Library has many accessible services

Published 5:35 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Rotarians learned at this week’s meeting about the various accessible services available through the Southwest Georgia Library, for those who have visual, hearing or physical handicap conditions.

Catherine Vanstone, library assistant director for technology, training and development, brought some samples of the newer technology available and described how they are used.

Vanstone said their Accessible Services serves 22 counties, where 7685 people are eligible for the services, yet they serve only 39 percent of them.

Email newsletter signup

No longer are the sight impaired, or those unable to hold a book, required to listen to multiple cassettes in order to hear a book. It is now contained on one CD, no matter the length. Even the Bible is now on the one CD. It comes to the recipient via the U.S. mail and includes an envelope for return mail. The reader can use a device that regulates volume, hearing speed and other adjustments.

Materials are loaned free to eligible readers and include books and magazines.

Another system called “Be My Eyes,” is designed not only for those who are sight impaired, but also who have organic learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. “you don’t have to be legally blind,” said Vanstone.

The small piece of equipment can allow users to dial large city newspapers, such as the Atlantic Journal, which is no longer delivered in this region, and hear the news over the phone the day it comes out. These have been placed in assisted living and nursing homes.

Another device is one that a person must actually come to the library to use. It is a machine that reads printed (not hand written) material. It is used frequently by those at Georgia Industries for the Blind.

There is also a small, hand-held PC with a digital touch screen that magnifies and will even change colors if necessary for easier reading. You can even take a photo with it and save it to your computer.

A new large machine in the Genealogy Room at the library is a braille machine that can convert information in a word format to braille.

Vanstone said they are trying to raise awareness of the many resources available at the library through such methods as going to the Pre-K programs and schools, and using direct marketing to physicians and the Senior Center. They even took the Bookmobile to the Farmers’ Market this past Saturday.