For the second post in our series highlighting best practices in assistive technology, we’re focusing on the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled (OLBPD). OLBPD partners with the State Library of Ohio Talking Book Program to serve as a Regional Library for the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress. Through this partnership, eligible Ohio borrowers may receive braille and audio materials via postage-free mail. Their collection includes audio and Braille books and magazines, described DVDs and Blu-Rays, and Playaway pre-loaded digital products. Today’s interview is with Will Reed, OLBPD Manager, who shares more information about OLBPD’s resources and community impacts.
What is your library’s role within the disability community?
Will Reed: OLBPD serves as the regional library for the State of Ohio as part of the National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Print Disabled, providing free audio and braille library materials to eligible patrons. In addition to this role, OLBPD provides library services to patrons with print disabilities in the greater Cleveland area through our parent agency, Cleveland Public Library.
What assistive technologies do you have available at your library?
Will Reed: Information on our adaptive technology (AT) can be found at this link: https://cpl.org/aboutthelibrary/ohio-library-for-the-blind-physically-disabled/adaptive-technologies/.
What community impacts have you seen as a result?
Will Reed: Some of the notable impacts revolve around improving the quality of life for our patrons. For some, it’s just simply learning how to use adaptive technology; for others it’s learning important job skills or working on a resume or homework. For others it’s recreational, being able to interact with family and friends. What’s important is that OLBPD provides free access and training. These go hand-in-hand.
How do you determine your community’s specific needs and interests?
Will Reed: We ask them.
What recommendations do you have for libraries hoping to add or expand assistive technologies?
Will Reed: I’m an advocate of universal design, so my first recommendation is don’t just address adaptive technologies. Make it part of a larger initiative to create an accessible and inclusive experience for as many patrons as possible, those with or without disabilities. Have you heard patrons complain because some things are too easy to access? I haven’t and I’ve been working at OLBPD for 20 years. The point being that if a library is going to focus on placing adaptive technologies then they should also think about patrons with disabilities being able to get into the building, find them, and then use them. Most libraries are doing great programs already, and these should be accessible to patrons with disabilities. Nonetheless, going back to AT, work with your patrons, local disability consumer groups and community agencies, etc. Assess the needs and build a learning and using experience around that need.
To learn more about OLBPD and its services, visit their website at http://olbpd.cpl.org or follow @OLBPD (https://twitter.com/olbpd) on Twitter. Feel free to post any comments or questions, and stay tuned for another interview next month.
This post addresses ALSC Core Competencies I. Commitment to Client Group and II. Reference and User Services.
Jaime Eastman is a Public Services Librarian, Senior and the Family Place Coordinator at the Harrington Library, one of the Plano Public Libraries. She currently serves as the chair of the Children and Technology Committee. She can be reached at email@example.com.