January 26, 2009

Begin Where You Are

Accessibility is like that journey of a thousand miles that begins with one step. Daunting, yes, but not impossible. Begin where you are and take small steps toward your destination.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the DC Public Library's orientation to their Adaptive Services Division. This is a great local resource with state-of-the-art assistive technology and friendly staff who were very willing to share their expertise. This division is home to many attractive and sophisticated devices that enable users with disabilities to use a computer, scan and read paper mail, check out Braille and audio books, and share literacy materials in all formats with friends and family members who have special needs.

First we had a tour of the division's newly renovated space on the second floor of the downtown (Martin Luther King, Jr.) branch. We learned about their training programs for users and librarians alike who would like to become proficient in using screen reader software, accessible keyboards, and many other important tools.

The Adaptive Services division is available to train you and your patrons on using assistive devices. They hope to eventually develop a curriculum to certify users of this technology. They are also always in need of volunteer readers for their audio books program. (As part of our tour we had the opportunity to see and enter a soundproof booth for recording audio materials for the blind.) More information on this volunteer opportunity is at http://home.earthlink.net/~ghendershot/index.html.

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