1st Aug, 2002
Karen J Zielinski
Real Living with Multiple Sclerosis
I've had MS for about 20 years. My primary symptom is fatigue, but sometimes my vision is affected so severely that I have trouble reading. I truly love reading and I'm very nervous about my vision difficulties.
I've recently retired and I'm concerned about what types of activities I can do on a fixed income. I know there are free things in my town, especially at the public parks. I just want to keep reading and finding out more about the world. Any suggestions?
Thanks for the E-mail. My advice to you is to contact your public library. Most libraries are supported by public funds and tend to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. I just visited my newly renovated library in downtown Toledo, Ohio. This is what I found.
The underground parking lot had plenty of disability parking. I took out my electric cart, entered the library, and was ready to roll. (Ha!)
Besides ample parking and automatic doors, the library offered lower counters where a person could check out videotapes. Many books and other items were visible at a seated level. Restrooms were clearly marked and accessible. In many areas, computers were set up at a level for use with a wheelchair or electric cart. Everything was well-marked and seemed readable for those with visual limitations, too. Elevators transported me to the rooftop rare book room. Ramps and curb cuts could be found outside the building.
Staff members at the library were probably the most important accessories for those with special needs. A friendly, helpful human touch overrides all the advantages of staying at home doing research on the Internet. Everyone I passed was friendly and helpful; they frequently asked me if I needed anything.
The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library provides special services for all those in need. The library even has an electric cart for those who have difficulty walking long distances. The library's bookmobiles are equipped with a hydraulic lift to accommodate patrons who use wheelchairs or walkers.
For the Hearing Impaired
The library is equipped to enhance communication for the hearing impaired through the use of audiovisual materials, including closed-- caption videos. Interpreters are available for all library-sponsored programs and can be requested by calling the library special services department 2 weeks before any event.
For Those Who Are Visually Impaired
Specially equipped personal computers are available to make reading easy for patrons with unique needs. These personal computers serve as the gateway to the library's catalog, the Internet, on-line book clubs, and reference databases. The computers have screens that magnify information 32 times its original size, headphones, and an automated voice. Braille over-- lays are available on computer keyboards.
The library is committed to offering technology designed to make information more accessible to the visually impaired. There are descriptive videos, books on tape, closedcircuit machines to magnify printed materials, large-print books for children and adults, hand magnifiers of various strengths, and Braille books for children and teens.
For the Elderly or Those with Disabilities
Individuals who are temporarily or permanently unable to visit the library can apply for homebound services. Librarians will select books and other materials according to each patron's interests and special needs. Private couriers can deliver the materials, or videos can be mailed to a patron's home. The bookmobile is equipped with a special book cart to transport library materials into apartments and long-term care facilities.
So, Marilyn, I would advise you to call your local library branch and see what they have to offer in the visually impaired section. Sometimes, when you get to know a librarian you can find your own personal "shopper" for books, information, materials, services, activities, and programs. Treat yourself and visit your library. Ask a librarian for a brochure on library services for people with special needs. The text is often large-print and written in language appropriate to persons with disabilities. The brochure clearly lists the services offered to those with special needs in your area.
I really love the library!
© 2002 Real Living with Multiple Sclerosis