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Erik Weihenmayer, First Blind Person to Reach Summit of Mount Everest, Named to Aira Advisory Board

March 1st, 2015

Erik Weihenmayer, considered among the most accomplished blind athletes in the world, and perhaps best known for being the first person without sight to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, has been named to the Advisory Board of Aira.

Aira is an emerging firm dedicated to developing personalized new services and technology to enhance the independence of the blind and low-vision community.

Weihenmayer’s achievements as a blind extreme athlete, motivational speaker, author and co-founder of the No Barriers movement will play a key role in helping Aira reach out to the visually impaired community in dynamic ways to showcase and promote how Aira’s services and technology can assist them in a wide range of daily tasks and activities. These outreach and promotional duties include serving as a speaker or volunteer for Aira demonstrations at tradeshows, conferences and other major events for the visually impaired community, and being available for media interviews discussing Aira products.

He will also provide feedback to Aira and board members on the development of Aira products, including product features, agent and user interfaces, and human agent recruitment, training, recruitment and evaluation.

¨Throughout his career, Erik has been known as an outstanding athlete who is not afraid to face and tackle his own personal challenges, in addition, he is also widely respected for inspiring blind and non-blind individuals alike to reach their full potential,” says Suman Kanuganti, Founder of Aira.IO. ¨Erik especially demonstrates that the visually impaired can lead independent, rewarding lives despite obstacles, which is why he is also an excellent addition to the Aira Advisory Board,¨ Kanuganti adds.

Weihenmayer reached the summit of Mount Everest on May 25, 2001, a feat which landed him on the cover of Time magazine. Afterwards, his successful mountain climbing efforts included scaling the tallest peaks on all the continents, known as the Seven Summits.

In recent years he has also distinguished himself in other extreme sports, including ice climbing, solo sky-diving, paragliding, and kayaking.

His courage to attempt forays into such risky undertakings began during his teen years while growing up in Connecticut after he went blind from juvenile retinoschisis.

He recalls: ¨Shortly after going blind, I received a newsletter in Braille about a group taking blind kids rock climbing. I thought to myself, “who would be crazy enough to take a blind kid rock climbing?’ So I signed up! Although there was a lot of flailing and struggle in those early days,the freedom of attacking a challenge and problem solving my way through it invigorated me and helped me to feel less trapped by blindness.¨

Weihenmayer is a graduate of Boston College with a double major in English and Communications. Later he taught middle school in Phoenix where he also coached wrestling.

His outreach endeavors include No Barriers, a non-profit he co-founded In 2005 to help those with special challenges to live active and purposeful lives. The organization’s motto is “What’s Within You Is Stronger Than What’s In Your Way!” Injured soldiers are a major focus of No Barriers.

An in-demand speaker both nationally and internationally, Weihenmayer is author of Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man’s Journey to Climb Farther Than the Eye Can See (his memoir),and The Adversity Advantage, Turning Everyday Struggles into Everyday Greatness.

Aira is an innovative technological service that is designed to help blind and low-vision users gain independence — serving in essence as a visual interpreter and navigator for users. In doing so, Aira provides personalized assistance from a network of trained certified agents, plus family, friends, and volunteers. Aira agents use a real-time interactive cloud-based dashboard purpose-built to process live data streams from cameras, GPS, and other sensor systems from wearable platforms such as Google Glass and Vuzix.