The Atlantic County Library System's Galloway Branch is one of 11 libraries in the state that have been selected to participate in a PILOT program to benefit the blind and physically handicapped, the New Jersey State Library Talking Book & Braille Center (TBBC) announced on Wednesday, Jan. 30.
Through the library, eligible residents will be able to access and download audio books and magazines from the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) web site, a national database made available by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
Eligible residents are any who are affected by a physical impairment, a reading disability, or a visual impairment. The goal is to assist them and their caretakers with the complicated BARD downloading process.
“This initiative will help us expand the services of the Talking Book and Braille Center to new, underserved populations in New Jersey,” TBBC Director Adam Szczepaniak said. “It will help to make a difference for those who, for whatever reason, have difficulty reading printed material. This is an important partnership for TBBC.”
The PILOT Program lasts for two months, but has received a strong response already, Szczepaniak said. He hopes to see the program expand to other parts of the state.
"Galloway's on the front line and they really know their patrons," Szczepaniak said.
A person doesn't have to be blind to qualify, as the designation covers all those with visual disabilities, including dyslexia, Szczepaniak said. According to statistics compiled by Cornell University, about 10 percent of the state's residents have visual disabilities of some kind. Stats are not available on a township-by-township basis.
Services currently available for TBBC members include digital audiobook players and audiobook cartridges, braille books, downloadable audiobooks and audio magazines, as well as access to news reading services such as Audiovision, TBBC’s own NJ newspaper reading service, and the National Federation for the Blind’s Newsline, which offers over 300 newspapers, magazines and wire services.
Other participating libraries include: East Brunswick Public Library; Jersey City Public Library; Johnson Public Library (Hackensack); Kenilworth Public Library; Monroe Township Public Library (Middlesex); Morris County (Whippany); Mount Laurel Library; Pequannock Township Public Library; Scotch Plains Public Library; and Somerset County Library, Bridgewater.
For more information about the BARD pilot project and other TBBC services, visit http://njsltbbc.org/.