New technologies make libraries accessible to everyone
By Mindstorms Mayhem Team, Special to the Telegraph
Published: Monday, Dec. 13, 2004
Photo by Nancy Streeter
Mindstorms Mayhem team members Nathan Streeter, left, and David Schunemann use a book magnifier at the Nashua Public Library.
NASHUA - Did you know your local library has a lot of technology and equipment to help you even if you have a disability?
should be able to use their local library, because the library is an
important source of information and enjoyment. Libraries have books,
public Internet access, books on tape and CD, DVDs and videos,
magazines, computers, museum passes and other resources available for
Many local libraries have sizable collections of
interesting large print books and magazines, and the larger libraries
may have some Braille books.
The Nashua Public Library and the
Wadleigh Memorial Library in Milford have computer programs like JAWS
for Windows which provides speech technology that works with the
Windows operating system to access popular software applications, the
Internet and e-mail.
Another program, MAGic, helps those with
low vision view information on their computer screen with magnification
up to 16 times, while hearing it through their speech synthesizer.
Additional book magnifiers are available for visually impaired patrons
that magnify the text on any printed material. At the Nashua Public
Library, Paul Lacroix is available Wednesdays through Fridays to
volunteer knowledge and training in learning JAWS and MAGic.
Public Library has other assistive technology like the Aladdin
Ambassador Book Reader. The Aladdin Ambassador assists the blind or
visually impaired by reading aloud to them. It uses character
recognition when it scans a book or other printed materials and can
keep the text in its memory for a long time. Because of this special
technology, the Aladdin Ambassador can read a book that was scanned
days ago. Nashua also has one TTY device for people who can’t speak and
some MP3 players for audio books.
Nashua Public Library has a
van for Outreach Services. This service brings books and other library
materials to the homebound, persons with disabilities, residents of
elderly housing, and others in the community who have difficulty
visiting the library on their own.
Mayhem is a FIRSTLEGOLeague team made up of homeschooled students from
the area. The article resulted from research they did while preparing
for the FIRST LEGO League New Hampshire State Tournament that took
place Saturday at Nashua High School North. The team is coached by Ken
Streeter and Bill Gray.
Another resource, the Talking Book Library, is a federally-funded
program that lends a wide variety of books and magazines, recorded by
professional actors. Most of these are produced by the Library of
Congress. A full catalog is available online. Librarians can assist
eligible patrons (those who are physically unable to see, handle or
process printed material comfortably) to fill out an application.
Photo by Nancy Streeter
Local libraries have added many new items that assist people with disabilities, including
the large-print books shown above from the Nashua Public Library.
majority of local libraries have ramps, elevators, automatic doors,
accessible water fountains, bathrooms and walkways. Some libraries have
specialized keyboards that can be borrowed to assist people with
Parkinson’s disease, shaky hands or paralysis. Stools and helpful
librarians are available to assist in reaching a book.
information was compiled by Mindstorms Mayhem, a FIRST LEGO League
Robotics team. In doing researching for this year’s challenge “No
Limits,” the team learned a lot about their local libraries and people
with disabilities. They would like to encourage people with
disabilities to “check out” their library and see what’s new.
For more information about the Nashua Public Library, go to www.nashua.lib.nh.us.
For more information about assistive technology at Nashua Public Library contact PLacroix@adelphia.net.
For more information on Nashua Public Library outreach services go to www.nashua.lib.nh.us/outreach.asp.
For information on the Talking Book Library in New Hampshire, call 800-491-4200.
For more information about Mindstorms Mayhem, go to www.mindstormsmayhem.org.