Saturday, June 02, 2007

Library program now offered to the visually impaired

Irmagene Staley isn’t completely blind, but she has had problems focusing her eyes for about two years. “Losing your vision is like being blocked out of the world,” the 73-year-old Hampton woman said. “When you are unable to focus it’s hard. My peripheral vision is OK, but I can’t focus so I can’t read or watch television.” Staley became a member of the Georgia Library for Accessible Services program two years ago.

She joined the program through Fortson Library in Hampton and she says it has helped her cope with her impairment. The GLASS program was created for Georgia residents who have a visual or physical disability. The free program loans large-print books, books on tape, Braille materials, music, magazines, catalogs and listening equipment to members of the program. “I’ve never been into television. I love historical novels,” said Staley, who listens to 10 to 15 books per week.

Fortson Library Branch Supervisor Janice Brown said members find the program convenient.“The program is great. They send the materials right to the patrons’ homes,” she said.In order to become apart of the program, an application and information from a physician has to be submitted to a GLASS office.Brown said the application encourages patrons to indicate the type of materials that are of interest to them.

“There is a wide variety of selections from romance to murder mysteries,” she said. Frances Stell, 84, of Hampton said her favorite type of book is fiction with a Christian blend. “I would recommend this program to anybody that has some sort of eye problem. It’s wonderful,” said Stell, a member of GLASS for one year.

The Fortson Library’s collection also includes large-print books, books in Braille and Playaways, said Brown. Playaways are recordings of books that can be listened to by plugging earphones into a MP3 player. “We all need some type of entertainment to escape into. This program helps me to keep my sanity,” said Staley.—On the net:GLASS:


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