services to visually disabled library users

For example [and sorry for two essentially linkless posts, but it’s been a busy week here] yesterday I both learned to use an aggregator and went to a support group meeting for seniors with visual impairments. Most of these people used to be sighted and now can see very little, if at all. They meet once a month at a local library and swap tips, get some socializing in and sometimes have people like me come talk to them. I wanted to get their ideas on making the library more accessible to them and, in my dream world, maybe find someone who was using adaptive software to browse the web so I could have them beta-test the new site I am designing. The feedback they gave me was really interesting — they are a lively involved bunch who enjoys reading and are trying to find ways to keep reading in their lives even with bad vision — so I thought I’d drop it in here.

  • large print isn’t really large enough for these folks — many can read using a CCTV [which we have] and a large print book, with the CCTV set to reverse text, but not otherwise
  • Some said they’d like to be able to “read” books on tape/CD in the library at some sort of listening station
  • many are somewhat isolated and just having a book discussion group where the people can all read or listen to books on tape or, even better they said, having someone read to them a chapter or two a week, would be lovely
  • none of these people had a computer or were interested in computers too terribly much, though some said they’d like to be able to get some tutoring if it were available, one on one
  • all the nifty features of our OPAC were not worth much to them, though they said they’d like to be able to call [which they can] and ask people to put books on hold for them. They said they’d like to be able to get a list of new books on CD/tape via a phone message since even a print newsletter is a hassle for them
  • none of them read Braille
  • accessibility of the library keeps them out of the library. We are well located by car, but parking is erratic and on-street and the book drop is a few steps from even the closest parking space which still requires parallel parking to get to. Public transportation stops two blocks away but two blocks is way too far in the Winter.