George Library was a buzz of excitement last week when George became the first Mini-Library Service for Visually Impaired Persons to be activated in the pilot phase and was officially launched.
Members from Access Eden, an organisation that strives to get accessibility for people with disabilities and BATS (Blind and Trouble Sighted Society) members attended the launch of the Mini-library.
Mr Paul Thompson, Western Cape Project Coordinator: South African Library for the Blind, explained to the audience what equipment is available in the Mini-library and how it can be used by visually impaired individuals
He introduced the audience to a document reader, a device that scans a page and reads it back to the reader/listener. All interested individuals that want to make use of this machine are asked to bring their own earphones with for hygienic reasons.
There is also a computer available in the library for near-sighted individuals. It can zoom into screens and make it generally easier for near-sighted people.
Thompson said initially persons will need assistance with the devices but eventually they will get use to the systems. “We try and help the blind to be more participatory and be part of the community by providing them some independence. We know many blind people are isolated and don’t have access to services.
Librarians had training in the equipment and will assist the users.
All interested individuals are encouraged to visit George Library and to indicate to the library staff their reading needs and interest. Reading material will be available in audio and in braille. Tactile books will be provided for the pre-school child.
The Mini-Libraries are rolled out in seven provinces already and with seven Mini-Libraries all over the Western Cape. The South African Library for the Blind depends on the users and organisations to get the word out and get more individuals integrated into the system. They encourage individuals and organisations to register with the project to justify more material and equipment for the library.
Mr Cyril Williams, Chairperson of Access Eden, said they welcome the initiative to integrate and better equip people with sight difficulties. He said a lot of blind people are braille illiterate and the new technology is welcomed.
Ms Marion Ashmole, a founder member of BATS, said the equipment is great and is especially helpful to read documentaries and current news which is not possible with the normal audio book readers, the Victor and the Daisy. These audio readers works with CD’s.
Ms Rachel Williams: Manager: George Libraries, says this is all very exciting for the Libraries and the people of George. She urged people to register with the project.
It will be wonderful to see how this programme will serve the reading and information need of the visually and print-impaired community of George, Williams said. The primary objective of this project is to provide access to reading materials through assistive devices and the provision of necessary technology. Please visit George Library for more information regarding this service.