Technology seems to have answers to some of the very complex problems that we face as human beings, such as the case in Arlington where Ollie Cantos and his three sons walked three blocks from their home to the Pentagon City Whole Foods. Being a Tuesday evening, it was time for them to shop for Thanksgiving.
“You just have to plan through the menu,” says Cantos. Who reminded his 18-year-old triplets who were born blind, what they should buy and to stay on budget. “When you get back I need you to put everything away,” says Cantos.
Unfortunately, the father is also blind, but that did not stop him from attending a church meeting. He left Nick, Leo and Steven to figure out how to get through their first fully independent shopping experience: which was a milestone for the three triplets as they reach maturation as young adults.
“I don’t really like to dwell on having a disability that much. Not because I’m ashamed of it but because it doesn’t really matter,” says Leo.
Sometime last month, the three proved that disability is not inability after they attained the coveted rank of Eagle Scout. The remarkable achievement prompted Aira, a technology company, to give each of the triplets a year’s subscription to their innovative facility.
The service has an Aira agent who can see, in real time, what the teenagers cannot through a camera installed in glasses they wear. In their trip to the store, Leo’s job was to find carrots and celery for a stew. Fortunately, the Aira agent, a visual interpreter, aided him as he walked past aisles and around food displays so that he could locate what he was looking for.
Leo says, “He’s telling me that it’s on the upper shelf and I didn’t know that so he told me it was on the upper shelf and now I can actually know where it is.” The whole concept is based on Leo navigating life with much ease.
“The best way I can describe it it’s like having a sort of vision,” says Leo.
The other triplet, Steven, was very grateful after he was able to locate the perfect box of cake mix with an overwhelming number of options. “This is awesome. Just a really cool experience,” says Steven while grabbing his selection.
Lastly, Nick, who was buying ribeye and keeping the budget, Aira gave him quick access to pricing. “The ability for me to do this easier is going to monumentally change my life,” says Nick.
The three brothers pointed out that they normally rely heavily on employees whenever they are shopping. However, on the Thanksgiving shopping, they did not require much assistance.
In fact, they had a wonderful time working with Whole Food’s employees Jeanne and Gary who helped the brothers navigate the busy pre-Thanksgiving Day shopping environment. But now, with the assistance of Aira, they can be more independent.