Making a Noise in Hampshire's Libraries
Thursday, 14 June 2012
Hampshire County Council's Library Service has something to shout about when it comes to providing services for residents who are blind and partially sighted.
As part of 'Making A Noise In Libraries' (MANIL) fortnight (11-24 June 2012) - an annual campaign from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Hampshire County Council is taking the opportunity to showcase the range of services and equipment that is available in libraries, for people with sight loss.
Every library in Hampshire provides facilities for disabled people, to ensure that they can make the most of their library with equal access to books and information. The same is true for those residents with sight impairments.
- All libraries in Hampshire have audio books available on CDs, cassettes, and even in MP3 format. There is also Playaway which gives library members the chance to borrow an MP3 player, on which a book has already been preloaded.
- You can download eBooks and audio books free from the library website and put in free requests for books in any of these formats.
- Hampshire libraries provide ClearVision books for children. These are picture books rebound with transparent Braille text pages which still allow the pictures and print to be easily visible for parents.
- For film lovers, there is an increasing number of DVDs with audio description (a discreet commentary inserted in between the dialogue which describes what is happening on the screen so that you can keep up with the action). These are free to hire from local libraries.
- If the small print in newspapers and magazines is a struggle, staff at Winchester Discovery Centre can download free audio versions of 200+ newspapers and magazines onto your own memory stick in a matter of minutes.
- Hampshire County Council has pioneered reading groups where books in large print and audio formats come as standard. This is a great opportunity to meet other people with shared interests and gives people the chance to take part in a hugely popular, reading group experience. There are reading groups for people with sight loss in many libraries across Hampshire.
- Some libraries also run IT classes for people who need help with computers due to sight loss. These are currently on offer at Basingstoke Discovery Centre, Eastleigh, New Milton and Winchester Discovery Centre. Using specialist software, tutors can help people to use computers, touch-type, email and browse the internet.
Hampshire County Council's Executive Member for Culture and Recreation, Councillor Keith Chapman, said:
"Hampshire County Council works hard to ensure that every resident is provided with the opportunity to make the most of Hampshire's libraries. Our range of services available to blind and partially sighted people, provides access to the vast collections of information, history and entertainment found in thousands of books, CDs, DVDs and more."
Keith Hatter has attended the Visually Impaired People's (VIP) Reading Group at Winchester Discovery Centre for over eight years, he explains why the group is so important to him:
"Novels are the most natural art form for those of us with sight loss. Unlike theatre, film or TV they create pictures wholly through words and it makes no difference whether the words are printed, spoken or in Braille. The VIP book group enhances the reading experience for us by enabling groups of visually impaired people to read the same book and then come together to share their views on it."
For more information about what services are available in Hampshire libraries for blind and partially sighted people, please visit the Hampshire Libraries website.
Don't forget - if you can't get out and about very easily, the library can also come to you. Arrangements can be made for library materials to be delivered direct to your home on a regular basis by a Home Library Service volunteer.