Vision Australia Information Library Service (VAILS) will today launch a new online service to assist people who are blind, have low vision or a print disability.
The service, which is an Australian first, was launched by Minister for Disability Services and Reform, the Hon Mary Wooldridge.
“I would like to thank Vision Australia, its Board of Directors, staff and volunteers for their commitment and dedication to supporting and empowering people who are blind, have low vision or a print disability,” Ms Wooldridge said. “The work they do makes a real difference to the lives of people who are blind or have low vision, because they build people’s capacity to have choice and control over their lives and live independently in the community.”
The new VAILS online catalogue will make available a significant collection of accessible reading material for the print disability community. Print disability includes people who have a perceptual disability, amputees and people with chronic arthritis or quadriplegia. Blindness and Dyslexia are common forms of print disability.
“For the first time people registered with VAILS can access specially prepared audio books, newspapers and magazines that can be read by any print disabled person using appropriate software and technology,” said Tony Iezzi, National Manager Vision Australia Information Library Service. “Our titles use the latest technologies to enable people with a print disability to browse through a book, magazine or newspaper and easily use a table of contents, in much the same way as a sighted reader,” said Mr Iezzi.
This collection is downloadable and includes more than 26,000 audio books and about 300 newspapers and magazines. Many of these titles can be accessed at any local public library across Australia.
By working with VAILS, local governments can offer more sensitive attention to the information needs of people with a print disability through their public library services.
“The minimal cost involved to set up an accessible PC in the library provides direct access to the entire collection of books, newspapers and magazines,” Mr Iezzi said. VAILS freely works with libraries to provide staff development and to help staff become familiar with the unique needs of this group.”