“With Different Eyes”: the final event of the Tech.Library project
On November 16, 2023, a presentation of the results of the Erasmus+ project “Tech.Library” was held in the conference hall of the “Wolmar” hotel in Valmiera, organized by the Mazsalaca City Library.
As part of the project, an internet platform TECH.LIBRARY has been created, where librarians and people with visual impairments have access to training videos on the use of various aids and technologies, as well as manuals with examples of good practice from the countries involved in the project (Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia and Latvia).
The target audience of the project multiplication event “With Different Eyes” were librarians of public libraries of Valmiera region and colleagues from public libraries of Limbaži, Cēsis and Valka regions. The event was attended by 57 participants representing 36 public libraries.
The event focused not only on improving library services for people with visual impairments, but also emphasized other problems and possible solutions of people with special needs, because library services are used by all groups of society, regardless of education level, health status, etc.
Ināra Lāce, head of the Latvian Library for the Blind Cēsis branch, shared her experience in librarian work with people who have vision problems. Jurģis Briedis, environmental accessibility expert of the “Apeirons” association, presented the best possible accessibility solutions / universal design, which means diversity of use, simple construction and room arrangement, as well as easy-to-understand information, so that it can be used not only by people with special needs, but also by every member of society. Afterwards, Inga Brente-Mieze, head of Vidzeme Social Services, spoke about the activities of the association “Latvian Samaritan Association” and the services provided to people with special needs.
Gatis Grīntāls, representative of LLC “Exceed”, presented aids and products suitable for people with visual impairments. During the practical workshops, the librarians were introduced to various video magnifiers, with the help of which the text can be enlarged up to 70 times, to the Zoom Text software, which, when installed on the computer, can enlarge the text to the size you need, and to the text reader Bruno, which provides the possibility to convert printed material in audio format and listen to it. In order to get a feel for how people with various visual impairments see the world around them, the librarians could also try on special glasses.
The Mazsalaca City Library implemented this project to improve library services for people with visual impairments. As part of the project, the library purchased two video magnifiers, several keyboards with enlarged letters and symbols, and Zoom Text Pro2 software with an attached speech synthesizer, which provides an opportunity for visually impaired computer users to work independently – to perform basic program management operations, to work with text in various ways, increasing it up to 60 sometimes, or converting text to savable audio, and more.
After this meeting, every librarian is invited to explore the TECH.LIBRARY platform – published information and examples of good practice in working with people who have vision problems. In turn, librarians who wish to share their good practices can contact the platform developer to receive access data and the opportunity to post their materials on the online platform. The event’s visitors also received the Practical Guide in Latvian in USB format, which is also available to anyone interested on the project’s website.