Reading Made Easier with AT
February 2, 2012– Low vision can impact someone’s ability to cook, take medications, get around safely and read. Assistive Technology (AT) can help people with vision disabilities and libraries are at the forefront of using AT to help their patrons with disabilities participate fully.
Sandy Cohen, ADA Coordinator for the Nashville Public Library (NPL) comments, “NPL offers a wide range of accommodations–from a variety of hand-held magnification devices to computer software programs.” In addition to providing accommodations, Cohen recommends NPL’s large print collection that is up-to-date with new releases. Of course, the library also provides audio books free of charge.
With the ever increasing popularity of e-readers, library patrons can also check out their favorite books and read them directly on their e-reader. “All of the e-readers have adjustable print size, so that makes it even more convenient for people with vision disabilities to adjust the print on their e-reader to the most appropriate size for them,” explains Cohen.”
“It is great that libraries are using AT to help people with disabilities,” said Juli Gallup, AT Advocate at Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee (DLAC). “DLAC continuously works with the AT centers across the state to increase knowledge of AT among people with disabilities and how to use it in their daily life.”
Last year, 460 people attended the joint trainings and benefited from this partnership, including veterans, persons with traumatic brain injury, and people who have autism. DLAC continues to work with the AT centers to increase awareness of AT. “There is still a notion that all AT is high-tech,” Gallup shares, ”but as the libraries show a lot of it is low-tech. Also, the same piece of AT can be used at home, school, and work for a variety of purposes including leisure.”
Even with the increasing popularity and awareness of some forms of AT, many people need assistance to learn to use AT correctly. NPL has responded to this need by encouraging patrons to contact the library if they have any questions. “We are here to help all patrons access everything the library has to offer. The library even offers classes on how to use e-reader devices!” remarks Cohen.
Libraries across the state offer similar accommodations for persons with a visual disability. For a complete listing of accommodations you can request please visit your local libary’s website or call your local branch.