A strong partnership between Aira and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has existed since the inception of Aira in 2015. Suman Kanuganti, Aira’s Founder and President, attended the NFB National Convention to gain an understanding of the National Federation of the Blind, its philosophy, and how its governing principles should shape the outlook and operations of Aira. Suman also used this time to meet blind people, learning from each of them. From these earliest days, Suman has made it a point every summer to attend the NFB National Convention to connect with the community that Aira serves.
Leaders of Aira and many members of the National Federation of the Blind have spent a significant amount of time together, the outcome of which is that Aira’s operating philosophy is in alignment with the National Federation of the Blind and its members’ views on blindness. This shared understanding of the capacity of blind people is reflected in Aira’s fundamental operating model. Aira is designed to be an information tool that allows Explorers and guests to make decisions after gathering interpreted data about the physical and digital world, on their own terms. This clear mission is shared Aira-wide among the company’s employees.
Built on a foundation of trust and common commitment to the well-being of blind people, Aira and the National Federation of the Blind have entered into a mutually beneficial partnership agreement, the impacts of which are still evident today. The National Federation of the Blind has invested in the long-term success of Aira and the value that the company brings to its Explorers. Together the National Federation of the Blind and Aira have launched multiple initiatives, including the Back-to-School Program; the Aira Employment Program; the development of Aira Access Sites; and the provision of Aira, for free, to guests and Explorers at the NFB’s national and state conventions as well as the organization’s headquarters in Baltimore. Throughout the growth of this relationship, Suman has come to regard NFB President Mark Riccobono as a personal and professional mentor and friend, and President Riccobono proudly serves as an advisor to Aira.
With common aims, Aira and the National Federation of the Blind work together as partners for the benefit of the blind community, on a relationship grounded in mutual trust; respect; and reciprocal, constructive give-and-take that acknowledges the value of the consumer voice and that makes Aira a better access technology company. These values will always inform the future partnership of the National Federation of the Blind and Aira.