Mbombela establishes library service for visually impaired

Sunday, November 17, 2013

By Dale Hes

Mbombela - A new library service dedicated completely to the visually impaired is now available at nine libraries across Mpumalanga's capital city.

The service, known as Mini-Lib, is a partnership between Mbombela Libraries and the National Library for the Blind, and provides a dedicated corner for visually impaired people.

“We established the service in October and are waiting for members of the public to come and sign up, so we can help them to get access to the information that they are often deprived of,” said Mbombela municipal spokesperson Joseph Ngala.

Those who register will receive free specialised playback machines known as DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) players, which act as complete audio substitutes for print material.

“The format has advanced features in addition to those of a traditional audiobook. Users can search, place bookmarks, precisely navigate line by line and regulate the speaking sound without distortion,” said Ria Greaves, Senior Librarian at the National Library for the Visually Impaired in Grahamstown.

Each DAISY player is valued at approximately R3 500.

Registered members will also be given Braille and tactile books, while quarterly newsletters, books, magazines and newspapers will be received on disc.

“Visually impaired people don’t have a library culture. Libraries are not always a friendly place for them, so we are encouraging them to come and stay a while at a peaceful place designed especially for them,” Greaves said.

Ngala encouraged members of the public to register their visually impaired friends and relatives.

The participating libraries include Hazyview, Masoyi, Matsulu, Kabokweni, Zwelisha Container, Valencia Park, Nelsville, Nelspruit and Msogwaba.

“Our Libraries must cater for all citizens. This type of project is part of local government’s goal to improve the level of service we give to people with disabilities in Mbombela,” Ngala added.

Mpumalanga has become a popular tourist attraction for the visually impaired, with a Braille Trail available at the Lowveld National Botanical Garden and exclusive tours for the visually impaired offered by Ntwanano Tours. - SAnews.gov.za


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