Access is vital

Today we would like to tell you a bit about a library on Cape Cod that has made a difference in the lives of the visually impaired.  Over the past two decades, the Brooks Free Library in Harwich has launched an impressive accessibility program for blind and low vision patrons.  Known as VITAL (Vision Impaired Technology Assistance at the Library), the program offers technology instruction, audiobook downloading assistance, and access to low vision equipment and software for reading, writing and research.  The program operates with the help of a team of volunteers who receive training from the library in assisting patrons with vision loss.

Technology equals access

The VITAL Program started in 2003 thanks to donations from a number of businesses and individuals.  Continued funding from the Friends of the Brooks Free Library ensures program sustainability.  VITAL offers a range of choices to suit different needs, and volunteers work one-to-one with patrons to help them find the right tools.  Some of the library’s resources include:

The library also helps connect patrons with other services for accessing print in alternative formats, such as the online audiobook database Bookshare.org, and the Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library.

According to program coordinator Carla Burke,

“The purpose of this program is to help patrons who have a vision loss or a different type of disability access printed material, whether it be a book, magazine, or a newspaper or the like. It’s using technology to access the printed word. We want people to be able to read and write independently.”

Learn more about the Brooks Free Library

We applaud Carla and the VITAL team for making it possible for blind and low vision patrons to enjoy the wealth of materials the Brooks Free Library has to offer.  If you are interested in learning more, please visit their website at https://www.brooksfreelibrary.org/services/library-services-for-people-with-disabilities/.

Author Information

By AdaptiVision staff. Reviewed by Stuart Flom.

A lighting industry specialist, Stu Flom worked at Dolan-Jenner, a leader in fiberoptic lighting, for 15 years before launching his own company in 1994. As product manager, Stu helped find lighting solutions for clients in such diverse areas as photography, microscopy, robotics and automotive manufacturing. He was also involved in supplying the fiberoptics illuminating the Hope Diamond exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. A member of the International Society for Optics & Photonics (SPIE), Stu was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and is the author of several publications, including Integrating Optical Fibers in Machine Vision (Proceedings), Designing Fiber Optic Lighting for Machine Vision (Society of Manufacturing Engineers), and Light Up with Fiber Optics (Vision). Prior to his work in lighting, Stu was a special education teacher. Stu’s expertise in lighting and background in education form the backbone of his company. As AdaptiVision’s founder and president, Stu is dedicated to applying advanced lighting technology to assist people struggling with low vision, teaching them how to use technology to achieve greater independence.

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