Tuesday 7 June 2011

Navigators: enhancing leisure life for those with macular degeneration

Working in a small public library branch has given me the opportunity to get to know many of the borrowers on a personal level. It is also the perfect platform to promote services to meet the individual library needs of the borrower.

In today’s world where technology is racing ahead, I would like to share with you a story which has made me step back and reassess the impact of technology on groups of people who may need it most.

This is the story of an elderly lady who is a frequent visitor to the library I work in. She used to be an avid reader, however with the onset of macular degeneration she has been unable to indulge in her favourite past time, reading.  

Luckily, we are a participating library of the Navigator Library Access Project. This is a community based project that brings together libraries and people with macular degeneration with the aim of increasing quality of life and independence.

What is the Navigator?
“The navigator is a ‘low tech’, handheld portable technology that reads aloud books, magazines and daily newspapers chosen by the user. It can hold an average of five books and two newspapers in its memory or fifty hours of operation.”

Initially my borrower was a bit apprehensive about learning to use another piece of technology, however she has not looked back. She now comes back every fortnight with a list of titles that she would like loaded onto the navigator. Infact her next requests include A whistling woman by Byatt, A.S. and Her husband: Hughes and Plath – A marriage by Middlebrook, Diane.

She tells me often that though she lives alone in her apartment she has always got a story to listen to!

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