2010 Conference: Libraries Building Communities: Accessibility needs partnerships by Tony Iezzi

This paper was presented at the 2010 conference of the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities. You can read the full paper below, download the Word version, flip through the slides or listen to an audio recording of the presentation.

Download this presentation

Word version of full paper

Audio recording of Tony Iezzi’s presentation (MP3, 41.6 MB)

Presenter’s bio

Tony Iezzi presenting about accessible library services

Tony Iezzi is the Manager Vision Australia Information Library Service (VAILS)

Tony has worked in libraries since the early 1980’s and performed many and varied roles including:

  • Dressing up as “Spot The Dog” for children’s activities
  • Seven years as 2IC of an inner city library service
  • Managing small service point branch libraries including a Book Mobile service
  • Media library management has complemented the work with accessibility of information and the i-access suite of projects currently being implemented by Vision Australia.

Tony has been responsible for a number of major projects at Vision Australia (VA), including: a national trial and rollout of DAISY technologies, implementation of a certified QMS for the library, development of the VAILS online services. These developments provide the basis for fruitful partnerships and collaborations with the wider library network, which is Tony’s current focus.

Tony regularly presents on the benefits of DAISY technologies, implementation projects and VAILS services.  Previous experience as production co-ordinator at VA has given Tony a unique understanding of library services to community and how downstream production considerations impact on service.

Abstract

The project is about engaging members of the print disability community with the public library experience by setting up book clubs and reading groups and to provide the playback devices used in the project. 280 devices were allocated for use of project partners.

This project links Victorian community based libraries with a specialized public library service, to provide greater participation in public libraries of people who are print disabled. Traditionally this connection is lost as older Victorians lose their sight, or when sighted assistance of family members or carers becomes no longer available. Often a house bound service is utilized in extreme cases; however this does not provide library borrowers with real connection to the library service which many use to provide a social outlet. In order to develop a rationale for visiting a print-based library, and to continue to develop familiarity with library and its staff, Bookclubs directed specifically towards, or incorporating audio-based content allow community members to participate fully and reaffirm connection with the library. As a new format, DAISY increases the range of collections available to the public library community.

Slides

Slide 1

“The future is already here – it is just unevenly distributed”

William Ford Gibson, Science fiction writer, 1948-

Presentation Subtitle: Partnerships and Social Inclusion in Victorian Public Libraries

Slide 2

The challenge or the biggest barrier to full participation: Lack of access to information: Only 5% of printed information is accessible

Slide 3

A person with a print disability is:

  • a person without sight; or
  • a person whose sight is severely impaired; or
  • a person unable to hold or manipulate books or to focus or move his or her eyes; or
  • a person with a perceptual disability

Slide 4

Image of the front page of ‘Radio for the Print Handicapped News’ (RPH) showing a number of newsprint type articles.

Slide 5

This slide shows the previous slide with many dark splotches over the page rendering the paper unreadable and the caption says: How someone with Diabetic retinopathy would see the same newspaper.

Slide 6

This slide shows the same newspaper with markings reflecting how someone with age related macular degeneration would see the same newspaper. Some text is visible but large black globules and murkey white spaces dominate.

Slide 7

This slide shows the same newspaper with markings reflecting how someone with cataracts would see the same newspaper. Nothing is visible except for large black splotches.

Slide 8

This slide shows the same newspaper with markings reflecting how someone with glaucoma would see the same newspaper. The centre has some visible text but this is surrounded by a vague circular white blankness punctuated with black splotches.

Slide 9

This slide shows the same newspaper with spelling variations reflecting how someone with Dyslexia would see the same newspaper. All the text is clear but everything is misspelled making the meaning of the content obscure.

Slide 10

The project objectives:

  • Establish book clubs and reading groups
  • Provide 280 playback devices
  • Library – the 2nd Place
  • Connect community based libraries with a specialized public library service
  • Engage the print disability community with the public library experience

Slide 11

Accessibility and Inclusiveness:

  • Yarra Plenty Regional Library 68
  • Eastern Regional Libraries 32
  • Goldfields Library Corporation 70
  • Whitehorse Manningham Regional Library Corporation 47
  • Vision Australia Information Library Service

Slide 12

This slide shows two hands holding a number of small DAISY Players – in all four CD players are shown and five handheld players. An insert image of a big pile of cassettes compares with the single CD next to the pile.

Slide text:

DAISY Technology

  • CD players & Software
  • Can be simple – use it without hi tech
  • Online devices provide amazing flexibility

Slide 13

Pictures is an example of a web page developed by Whitehorse Manningham Regional Library Corporation to promote the project. Picture shows a young boy relaxing next to his DAISY player next to a description of the project advertising it’s availability.

Slide 14

Lessons Learned:

  • Project launch is an involved affair
  • Early contact with operational people
  • Communicate and Engage
  • There is more collaboration and connectivity to be had.

Slide 15

The Challenge:

  • Estimated to be 300,000 vision impaired & 600,000 by 2021
  • 63% of people who are blind or have low vision are unemployed
  • The Digital Revolution has largely ignored the needs of people with a print disability

Slide 16

Member feedback:

  • “DAISY books have been an absolute joy for me. I have been an avid reader since I was nine years old. When I could still manage large print I read out the entire library of my hostel and now I am working my way through yours.”
  • “Thankyou very much for the help you give me. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it. That little machine [DAISY] is so good. I took it to Sydney on my holidays and told everyone that my motto is now ‘have books will travel’ “

Slide 17

Last slide:

The National Library for people with a print disability

[end of slides]

Full paper: Libraries Building Communities: Accessibility needs partnerships

The project

The project described in this paper is about engaging members of the print disability community with the public library experience through the establishment of book clubs and reading groups in local libraries.

It offers an example of how we can share the joy of reading and ideas with the print disability[1] community and how we can offer equal access to the same literature, and accordingly the same exciting possibilities as the sighted majority that public libraries serve so well. The project also demonstrates how libraries can collaborate to offer targeted services to print disabled members of the community.

In the project Vision Australia Information Library Service (VAILS) provided staff training and the playback devices for participants called DAISY players (Digital Accessible Information SYstem) that can play a range of audio files. The four partner library services facilitated the reading groups and clubs, their promotion, and the provision of a safe and inviting environment at a local level. It is this local access which is a major strength of this project, particularly in regard to ensuring ease of access for this community.

Project Funding Context

In late 2007, applications were invited from Victorian Public Libraries for funding of community building initiatives. The Victorian Government had identified Community Strengthening – the need to develop and nurture more resilient, active and confident communities – as one of its key strategic directions (Growing Victoria Together Framework 2003 and A Fairer Victoria Policy 2005).

In response to this, the Library Board of Victoria (LBV) and the Victorian Public Library Network (VPLN) jointly undertook groundbreaking research into the vital contribution made by public libraries to community building in Victoria. The research reports and recommendations were published in February 2005 as Libraries Building Communities (LBC).

Over the three years 2005–2008, the LBV and the VPLN continued to support the work of Libraries Building Communities through the ‘Statewide Public Library Development Projects’. Board funding was provided for ongoing advocacy and research, development of community engagement guidelines for public libraries, and a second edition of ‘Libraries Building Communities Report 4: Showcasing the Best’.

The purpose of this program was to provide funding to Victorian public library services to undertake significant strategic projects that enhance their ability to meet the needs of their communities in a way which builds community capacity. Ours was one such project. As the first partnership between VAILS and public libraries in Victoria, it is a significant collaboration with 4 large regional library corporations, spread across 12 local government municipalities, servicing a population over 1 million people in both urban and rural localities. The libraries; Yarra Plenty Regional Library, Eastern Regional Libraries, Goldfields Library Corporation, Whitehorse Manningham Regional Library Corporation, sought to establish library based accessible book clubs and reading groups.

Community building and social inclusiveness

The print disabled are underrepresented within the library user population. Print disability includes those individuals who have difficulty holding or manipulating books or have a perceptual disability. People with a whole range of conditions not related to sight limitation or blindness may be included as print disabled. This largely underrepresented group are not able to do a very simple thing such as read a newspaper, a magazine, a book or other printed materials that sighted people take for granted every day.

This project links four Victorian community libraries with a specialised accessible library service, to develop and deliver a public library based program for print disabled people. Traditionally this connection is lost as older readers lose their sight, or when sighted assistance of family members or carers becomes no longer available. Often a house bound service is utilised in extreme cases. Book clubs, incorporating audio-based content, allow community members to participate more fully and to reestablish contact with the library and of whom many use as a social outlet. As a new format, DAISY titles increase the range of collections available to the public library community.

There will be increasing need for these types of programs in the future as statistics show that around 292,700 Australians are blind or vision impaired (2004). This figure is set to increase to 421,600 by 2021 as ‘baby boomers’ reach retirement age. (Source: ABS: Ausstats, 2004.) The print disabled community is significantly greater, estimated at 10% of the Australian population. This group is underrepresented within the library community and will present an increasing challenge for organisations running community based services. This presents an opportunity for libraries to engage with a growing community that has clear needs in accessing information.

For many in this community, as for the wider population, the library could be the non discriminating and inviting ’second place’. 69% of people of working age who are blind or have low vision are not in paid employment (Results and Observations from Research into Employment Levels in Australia Overview Document). Market Research and Development. March 2007. Vision Australia). Interestingly, less than 5% of published material, that is books and less than 20% of websites are accessible to many people in the print disability community. [2]..

To address this situation, the project aimed to introduce a wider range of information sources and ways to access information. It also sought to support public libraries in delivering a seamless and integrated information service using the latest technologies that make content accessible.

The project created a cooperative service model for the delivery of DAISY books to Victorians who are blind, have low vision or have a print disability by enhancing their participation in public libraries and their activities. VAILS provided about 60 DAISY players per service and training to library staff and volunteers. The project commenced on 30 March 2008 and concluded on 30 March 2009.

Vision Australia Information Library Service is the only national library service supporting the needs of the print disabled community. The Library provides a range of digital content including a Reader’s Advisory Service and Player Support Desk Service.

Vision Australia currently provides library services to approximately 18,000 clients across Australia supplying specialised alternative format information in Braille, Audio and e-text. Approximately 17,000 clients have a DAISY CD player and over 900 have handheld online DAISY players. The library holds over 20,000 titles that cover a broad range of subjects and caters to adults, teenagers and children. Over 15,000 of these titles are in a DAISY format. The library also provides a large range of magazines and newspapers. Material is available on DAISY CD’s or download and Braille. The Feelix collection also provides a special collection for very young children or vision impaired parents of young children.

69% of VAILS members are over 70 years of age, many much older. The traditional wisdom would indicate that there would be reticence on the part of this community segment in taking up new technology. This is not our experience; over the five years VAILS has been transitioning members from analogue to digital library content. Since the inception of the project, VAILS staff have developed training materials and library member support mechanisms. This expertise was made available to participants in the project.

A good example of people’s ability to adapt was touched upon in feedback from one of the participating libraries:”All the patrons who have been issued with Daisy players have been very happy with them, never a complaint about “too hard to use”. Some who were a little dubious and kept their tape players as a fallback now use the daisy exclusively and have abandoned their old players completely“.

Project administration and activities

The project was formally administered through a project governance structure with the establishment of a steering committee, project manager, project team and facilitator. Both the project team and steering community represented project stakeholders. A formal reporting system was in place with the State Library of Victoria and the steering committee received monthly reports progress reports.

A program was developed with the project working team to implement the project with one library initially so that observations and lessons could inform the rest of the project process. Regular team meetings were held to maintain involvement and commitment of stakeholders and to identify any issues or concerns early on in the process. This also provided an opportunity for libraries to ‘share’ each other’s experiences.

Training and support was provided for library staff in the use of DAISY players, including training materials and DAISY books. Libraries were encouraged to make use of local media wherever possible, and a number of local presentations by VAILS staff also assisted in sparking local interest.

Here are some examples of activities included in monthly reports:

1. Whitehorse Manningham Regional Library Corporation established an Evening Book Circle at Doncaster Library which includes the attendance of a vision impaired member. The library service have also made arrangements with a local retirement village to provide players to residents currently using tape players for an existing book discussion group managed by the retirement village.

2. The Eastern Regional Library Service moved the Boronia Vision Book Club to Ringwood Branch who have added their first new member and issued a DAISY player. A Book club is commencing at Ferndale Gardens Aged Care Services, Croydon on Thursday 2 October – 6 members, several of whom are Vision Australia members. Our newest Book club will meet at Amaroo Gardens Aged Care Facility, Ferntree Gully on Thursday 9 October

3. At the Goldfields Library Corporation, initial DAISY player training was completed at the Eaglehawk Branch on 22nd July, with Vision Australia Library training seven staff. Goldfield Library Corporation Library service has visited Aged Care facilities to talk about the project and promote the use of the DAISY player. Support training has been given to those clients that have required it.

4. All DAISY Training sessions have taken place involving a combination of Volunteers and Staff with the final training session at Goldfields Library Corporation with 7 volunteers and staff members. 101 DAISY players have been allocated to libraries, of which 36 have been loaned to individuals.

At the completion of the project, participant staff and end users were surveyed. (The results are presented later in the paper). VAILS continues to support the participating libraries and members using the service as well as any new members. The service will continue to be supported by VAILS as new members are identified by the project partners.

Service delivery choices

While there are many service options available, this project focused on the physical DAISY CD and player. It was important to offer flexibility in the way the project was implemented as a way of being sensitive to the needs of each individual site. In some instances book clubs were established by the library service, both on and off site, while other services were just happy to offer their clients accessible content.

All libraries had the option of having a small ‘seeding’ collection from VAILS. In the main, staff ordered a few books at a time for each borrower. This was done either by phone directly to VAILS staff or reservations placed on the online catalogue. The books could be sent to the library so that library staff or volunteers could support the member directly. In some cases when the member became confident with the service, staff would arrange for VAILS to send books directly to the member’s house. Local staff or volunteers would continue to monitor the member’s situation on a less frequent basis, allowing staff on to move onto service other members.

Borrowers could talk to their local library staff or call the VAILS advisory service. In all cases, support in the use of the playback device was available to members. Overwhelmingly, the value of the project has not only been in setting up of formal groups or clubs, but also in the social connections and support that these formal arrangements offer.

Here are some samples of feedback from the participant libraries:

(Referring to new members of a book discussion group) “The Croydon Book chat group tried to include them in their monthly meetings, but because of the group’s life experiences they were happier to meet separately at Ringwood. They do come to library events especially author talks which they thoroughly enjoy.”

“Well we’ve had our first meeting and it was great! What a heartwarming thing to do. They are just so grateful, firstly for the chance to read current titles and secondly, for the social inclusion this group will provide. One of the younger ladies travelled from Sunbury and another from St Kilda!

I can already see some friendships developing and they will be a great support to each other. They have all been keen readers before losing their sight (for various reasons and some very recently) and very envious of their friends who belong to book groups. I’m really keen to follow this through. The long term plan is for them to be self-sufficient I suppose but they are such fun! Much good has come from the inaugural project!”

Survey findings

Staff and members were surveyed by telephone in late January 2009, surveying 65 members and 34 library staff. Survey results are as follows:

Member survey findings

Awareness and Participation

Local library staff emerged as the primary information source (45%) regarding the LBC demonstration project, with other sources less significant. Other ‘communication channels’ (29.5%) included: a mobile library; an age care facility; word of mouth; newsletter; and via radio. Vision Australia staff accounted for 15.9%.

30% of respondents accessed the DAISY books through a local library while another 40% received books directly from VAILS. 18% received books from both organisations.

DAISY Players, Training and Support

In terms of ease and convenience of use over three quarters (77.3%) of project participants rated the DAISY player as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, with the majority (56.8%) at the most positive end of the scale.

Only 6 participants rated the ease and convenience of using the DAISY Player as ‘average’, while one user rated it as poor. Encouragingly, among those who experienced difficulty using the DAISY player, no one indicated they had problems getting help or support to resolve their issue/s.

38.6% (17) of respondents are reading more with the DAISY player and 31.8% (14) are reading about same. Seven reported reading less. Overall, the provision of DAISY players appears to have positively impacted the reading behaviour of some participants, or at least, facilitated the continuation of reading behaviour in others (38.6% of participants reported they were ‘reading more’ than before they had their DAISY player, while 31.8% stated they were reading ‘about the same’ as before). The remaining 7 participants indicated they were actually reading less than before they received their playback device.

Books and Library Participation

56.8% (25) of participants were regular borrowers from their local library prior to being supplied with a DAISY player with 31.9% (14) being ‘occasional’ or ‘very rare’ local library borrowers.

Of those who were users (including regular, occasional & very rare) of local library services before being supplied with a DAISY player, nearly half (46.2 %) of these users reported that, they are no longer choosing books from their local library subsequent to receiving their DAISY player.

61.4% (27) of clients reported it was ‘very easy’ (9) or ‘quite easy’ (18) for them to access reading material (in their daily lives). Of those who found it less than easy, issues included:

  • Lack of (reading material) choice (3)
  • Difficulty reading print or small print (2)
  • DAISY player usage problems (1)
  • Lack of timeliness (waiting for particular books e.g. mystery; quality fiction; drama, adventure & comedy, authors e.g. Wilbur Smith to be returned and redistributed (1)
  • Would like to be able to download reading material in a shorter period of time (1)

Just over a third (36.4% or 16) of respondents was very satisfied/ satisfied with the variety and availability of DAISY books, while a further 29.5% (13) were ‘somewhat satisfied’. Only 6 participants were ‘somewhat’ or ‘very dissatisfied on this dimension.

Reading/book Discussion Group Participation

Just over 8 in 10 participants (81.8%) were not active members of a book discussion group prior to owning a DAISY player

Among these non-book discussion group members, only two joined such a forum after receiving their DAISY player

Of the small number of participants (8) who were discussion group members prior to the initiation of this project, only two joined other groups after owning a DAISY player

Of the 10 total book discussion group members, six agreed their participation in such forums was a direct result of having a DAISY player to access books.

Among this same group of book discussion members six said their level of contact, or the numbers of people met within their community had improved ‘moderately’ or ‘a lot’.

Staff/Volunteer Survey Findings

Availability of Client Publicity Material

11 of the 20 respondents said that it was ‘very’ or ‘quite easy’ to access publicity material for distribution to clients, while only one staff member indicated it was ‘quite difficult’.

Training and Support

A large majority of staff (17/20) reported the amount of training provided was ‘just right’. While there were no suggestions to improve the training, the information captured implied more practice is needed after the demonstration (staff need to apply what is learnt soon after the training; otherwise, they forget what was taught).

Just over half the staff (11/20) said it was ‘quite/very easy’ to get help when they had difficulties assisting clients. Four staff provided neutral ratings on this dimension of the project and another four offered ‘don’t know/ can’t say’ responses (perhaps suggesting that a larger roll-out of this project may require closer attention to staff support when/ if they encounter difficulties in assisting Clients with their DAISY players).

Twelve of the 20 staff rated the support they received regarding methods of selecting books for clients as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. Specifics regarding improvements to this aspect of the project were difficult to obtain; however, three more general comments were offered:

  • “The clientele are not happy with the selection of MP3s so they are turning back to us at the Library Outreach Services now”
  • “A lot of my clients that I’ve spoken to have done a lot themselves. Probably we need to get more involved with helping clients doing selection, because the profiles Vision Australia is (sic) setting are not enough”
  • “… I think more genre based identification (is needed)”

Staff interaction with clients during the project was primarily at a more moderate level (9/20 responses), with only 3 staff indicating they had a ‘high’/ ‘very high’ level of interaction with clients. A further 3 staff stated they achieved a ‘low’ level of client interaction during the project. Rather than pointing to a deficiency of the LBC initiative, this finding may simply indicate the equipment and processes associated with the project are relatively sound and do not lend themselves to high levels of staff interaction with clients. However, three-quarters of the staff said their training was ‘important’/ ‘very important’ to the level of interaction they achieved with clients.

A majority of staff (16/20) acknowledged the LBC initiative had served to improve their knowledge of event planning and development for the print disabled community, with most of these (11/20) at the ‘improved a lot’ level.

Awareness and Participation

Participants have a favourable view of the DAISY player and a significant proportion of these individuals (38.6%) are reading more than before they had access to this device. Hence, there is evidence that the project is making progress toward achieving the objective of “enabling more Victorians with print disabilities to have greater access to reading materials.”

Training

Although the survey did not reveal major flaws in the training, there is an indication from the participants and staff that training could be enhanced. Training of clients and library staff in the use of the DAISY player is one of the key components to the success of meeting the project’s objectives. Staff also revealed that training is important/very important to the level of interaction with clients.

The project relies on a ‘train the trainer’ approach, so both groups need to have a sound understanding of adult learning principles. These principles need to form the foundation of the training program and be applied in the delivery of the training to both staff and clients. Key principles include:

  • Active learning – hands on is always best.
  • Consider learning styles and materials/approaches that suit these styles.
  • Reinforcement and practise of newly acquired skills – activities during the training and follow-up activities.
  • Problem solving approach – how to find my place if I fall to sleep etc.
  • Meaningful support material – easy user guides to refer to after the training with a solution focus rather than a functionality focus.

Benefits to Staff

Indicative results of this research point to gains in staff knowledge of event planning and development for the print disabled community. This is an aspect of the project that could be used to encourage other community libraries toward partnering with Vision Australia.

Steering Committee Observations

Whitehorse Manningham Regional Library Corporation comments that they have enjoyed being involved in this project and look forward to providing more Daisy players to members of their local community. They are pleased to see a raised awareness of the services available at Vision Australia, which will in turn assist their borrowers to access these services as required.

The Yarra Plenty Regional Library Service expects continued increased participation in library events by members with vision impairment in the Library’s projects and activities.

In general the Steering Committee felt that library client reading levels were increased through the Libraries Building Communities Demonstration Project and it was a success as an inter Library participation project. Steering Committee members would like to see this type of project extended throughout the public library community.

The survey report brought up the comment “One of the cornerstones of the LBC initiative (i.e. the provision of a DAISY player to those with a print disability) appears to favour subsequent use of Vision Australia library services (only) by these individuals. While there are a proportion of individuals who access both Vision Australia and local library services, 40.9% of all those who used local library services before being supplied with DAISY players, are now not choosing library books from their local library. This is a concern given the project objective of ‘increasing community library participation by the print disabled community’”. It was felt by the Steering Committee that this move to Vision Australia Library was not a concern but rather a positive in that an appropriate type of Library service was being able to be provided to the Library clients even if it meant movements to another Library service. Clients can continue their reading and library experience, whilst being provided with books from another library service. Due to the possible move from one library service to another, all library services need to be cognisant of the client needs primarily and the best way to provide this service, using the resources available from all participating libraries.

Lessons drawn

A number of useful observations can be drawn from the project, including recognition of achievement and the need to identify areas to build upon to inform future projects.

Communication is an area that can never be underestimated. While communication around the project organisation went well, there is good evidence of a need to more clearly identify the range of VAILS support services. These include more detailed information about the range of books available for members, ways to request titles, and genres available. Improvement in this area will help in more effective book selection.

It is difficult to maintain the enthusiasm of a large group of people over time. More work could have been done in providing information for other staff in the respective libraries. Enlisting engagement from staff who may be temporarily replacing project team members can be difficult if there is not a wider awareness of the project objectives, organisational commitment and benefits for the end user. The lesson is to identify operational staff very early in the process and keep them informed and interested. This should include regular project newsletters and updates to all staff in participating libraries. This will save downtime as people come up to speed.

A detailed analysis of the survey results reflects the impact staff have on the satisfaction of end users. Where staff surveys reflected a high level of interest and engagement with the project, a similarly high level of satisfaction was noted when the end user was surveyed. It is a natural observation that people who are keen and interested more easily enthuse other people. It is important that this simple observation is clearly stated to future staff wishing to engage with members in a range of activities, including training.

The project made some positive steps towards accessibility in the community as just under half of the surveyed participants have begun using the DAISY formatted books in preference to other formats available from the local library. Clearly a degree of social connectedness did occur and for those people, it’s difficult to quantify the value.

Future
There is a growing range of ways in which collaboration around accessibility can take place involving community organisations and groups. Some of these may involve similar projects to this one using different technologies, but attempting to achieve the same general outcome.

There is a real and existing potential to use internet based technologies that deliver innovative accessible information to the community. The next step aims to introduce a wider range of information sources and ways to access information. These services are already available in the mainstream. The next project to be developed will support public libraries and community organisations in delivering a seamless and integrated information service using the latest technologies that make content accessible and deliverable online.

Libraries are well placed to increase the range of accessible content locally and continue to build on concepts of inclusiveness and social capital. One such concept is the library accessible kiosk. With this model the library member could attend the local library and download an accessible book, magazine or newspaper and ‘read’ the material on a PC in the library, while members of the sighted community sit nearby reading the print versions of the same books, magazines and newspapers.

The kiosk is an accessible computer with a range of adaptive technology programs to assist a print disabled user to search and access online content in the library.

The service could also act as a portal where host library staff could download content like books, magazines, community and regional newspapers onto a Secure Digital (SD) card or USB stick on behalf of the library member and deliver accessible content to the members house using one tiny SD card instead of the traditional cumbersome collection of multi CD packs with limited functionality. This model would simplify staff administration time as library staff could download a number of books, magazines or newspapers that could used to service multiple borrowers.

The library member at home would access the content with a portable or desktop playback device or use a simple program on the home PC to read the titles. All options offer a superior range of easy to use functions.

In addition to accessing specially designed content from Vision Australia such as books, magazines and newspapers, the technology can be used to access a wide range of other information sources such as web content, word format documents, E-text and a range of audio formats including mp3 and wave formats.

In closing, this LBC project is one very small example of we how we can share the joy of reading, make accessible content more readily available, and create opportunities for greater participation in the community,

Feedback from a participating library service speaks for the program and the positive difference it has made to the clients lives:

“Our most enduring legacy from the partnership is the Ringwood Audio Book Club. It is continuing and has added another member, with another one pending. There are 5 people altogether, and it has made a real difference to their lives.”

“Dorothy whose vision impairment came about through acquired brain injury has gained a new confidence to move around in the community. Brendan, blind since his teens and always very independent, has shared his confidence with Dorothy and has gained new friends from his relationship with Dorothy’s family.”

“Therese, our very first Daisy recipient has found a release for her enormous intellect. Amazing since she was raised in an institution, deprived of schooling due to being labelled ‘a moron’ (which was the actual word used on her papers). She has acquired the confidence to move on to other projects and a recent contact with her friend indicates that her world is opening up in leaps and bounds”.

[end]


[1] In Australia, the Copyright Act 1968 Interpretation part 2. section 10, page 13 defines a person with a print disability as being:

(a) a person without sight; or

(b) a person whose sight is severely impaired; or

(c) a person unable to hold or manipulate books or to focus or move his or her eyes; or

(d) a person with a perceptual disability

 

In practice this includes examples such as:

  • people with severe arthritis may have difficulty holding a book or turning pages
  • people suffering from MS may have functional eyesight but may be unable to read due to severe shaking of head, hands etc
  • other physical disabilities or injuries that inhibit the easy use of reading materials such as books, magazines or newspapers
  • dyslexia is an example of a perceptual disability

 

[2] Brazier, Helen An introduction to IFLA Libraries for the Blind Section presented to Libraries for the print disable conference Zagreb, Croatia February 2008

 



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s