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Libraries Add That Extra Touch For Blind People



Public Libraries Add That Extra Touch For Blind New Zealanders October 2009

The Aotearoa People's Network Kaharoa (APNK) and Gene Gibson of Stratford are recipients of this year's Extra Touch Award, presented by the Association of Blind Citizen's of New Zealand (ABC NZ) at its Conference on Saturday 10 October 2009.

The Extra Touch Award is aimed at recognising an outstanding contribution by an individual or organisation towards improvement in access or service to blind and vision impaired people living in New Zealand. It is the first time the Association has recognised two recipients at the same time.

APNK manages public library computers across New Zealand. Through Gene Gibson's initiative and APNK's commitment to deliver an excellent experience to anyone using the internet or digital services in the public libraries of New Zealand, blind and vision impaired New Zealanders can also access these computers. Gene uses a portable screen reader called NVDA which reads information to him aloud and it is this software which APNK has installed on over 500 computers in public libraries across the country. This means Gene and other blind and vision impaired people can use computers to access email and the internet, create documents and navigate around the computer and do just about anything a sighted person can on a public computer.

Clive Lansink, National President of the ABC NZ said "Blind people often find it difficult to get good information because most of it is in print. Public libraries are a wonderful source of information and this initiative means that blind people whose public library participates in this scheme can access a lot of information through these computers that might otherwise be off limits. This will be great for blind people doing research or who just want to find out more about a particular subject that really interests them."

About the Association
Founded in 1945, the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand is New Zealand's oldest advocacy organisation in the disability sector and the largest, generic, blindness consumer organisation. The ABC NZ's philosophy is "blind people speaking for ourselves". Its role is to advocate on behalf of its members to Government, providers of blindness and disability-specific services (including the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind) and providers of services where blind people have particular requirements that should be taken into account.


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