BankRI introduces new service for visually impaired customers

PROVIDENCE – Bank Rhode Island is introducing a new technology designed to enhance accessibility to banking for blind and low-vision customers.

In joining the Aira Access Network, BankRI said it is the first bank in Rhode Island to offer the free service, available at all 20 of its branches. BankRI’s parent company, Boston-based Brookline Bancorp., is also offering the service.

This is how it works: Using the Aira app on their smartphones, which uses the phone’s camera, customers can connect with trained professionals who deliver information about a user’s surroundings.

Aira agents then work with each customer to complete any number of tasks, such as using an ATM, entering and moving throughout a bank branch, or navigating BankRI’s online and mobile banking systems, the bank said.

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Aira agents, the bank added, are “highly vetted, trained professionals” who have signed strict nondisclosure clauses to ensure users’ privacy is protected, with additional safeguards built into the app, such as “Privacy Mode.”

“While the Aira technology is designed to aid the visually impaired, the initiative reflects our commitment to being a leader in customer service and making banking easier for all,” BankRI CEO and President Mark J. Meiklejohn said in a statement.

“Aira not only expands accessibility at our physical bank locations but is also a tremendous resource for navigating our website and conducting online and mobile banking,” he added.

Suman Kanuganti, founder and president of Aira, said, “We are excited to have Brookline Bancorp and its subsidiaries be the first financial organizations in the Northeast to provide free Aira Access for its website, digital services and physical locations.”

Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Blake@PBN.com.

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