Self-sufficient shopping: Wegmans launches app to guide blind, visually impaired

Imagine planning a quick grocery store run to pick up just a few items, only to have your trip more than double in time because the assistance you needed wasn’t available.

Until recently, a blind or visually impaired customer who wanted to do their grocery shopping at Wegmans might have had to wait as long as 30 minutes for assistance. Now, Wegmans Food Markets has launched a partnership with an on-demand technology service at all 97 of its locations. It provides blind or visually impaired customers support while navigating the store, whenever they need it.

On Aug. 28, Wegmans became the first supermarket chain in the U.S. to partner with Aira, a San Diego-based company named after the concepts of artificial intelligence and remote access. Aira is powered by AT&T and uses technology, artificial intelligence and human assistance to be a visual interpreter for people who are blind or low-vision.

“It is a tool that gives our blind and visually impaired shoppers … the flexibility to do their shopping on their own schedule,” said Evelyn Ingram, Wegmans’ Syracuse-area spokeswoman.

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