About 15,000 Virginia Beach residents with visual or physical impairments qualify to receive “talking books” and Braille items mailed to them free from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). Only 3 percent of these residents use the service.
Pamela Brown, senior and disability services librarian at Virginia Beach’s Bayside & Special Services Library, where the NLS program is administered locally, wants to rectify that. With help from the Hampton Roads Blind Lions Club and a grant from the Friends of the Virginia Beach Public Library, Brown is launching an awareness campaign this October. Her goal is to bring reading into the lives of children, veterans and seniors – residents of all ages – who don’t realize they have the option to read, much less to have free materials sent directly to them at home.
“The NLS service is life-changing for participants,” Brown said. “Our readers include people who were born blind, those who lost sight later in life due to disease and those who can’t hold a book because of effects from multiple sclerosis or other physical impairment. They appreciate being able to access books, magazines and other materials independently, and they are voracious readers. Our average NLS customer reads 66 books per year, compared to seven books a year for the typical American reader.”
The awareness campaign kicks off with a Low Vision Technology Expo, hosted by the Hampton Roads Blind Lions Club, Saturday, Oct. 1, 12:30 to 4 p.m. at Central Library, 4100 Virginia Beach Blvd. The event will showcase tools and technologies that make living with low vision easier, including a money identifier, a camera that works with computers to read printed text, NLS service and more.
Also in October, Brown will host tours of Bayside & Special Services Library, 936 Independence Blvd., to share information about NLS:
- Thursday, Oct. 6, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, Oct. 11, 1 to 2 p.m.
- Wednesday, Oct. 19, 11 a.m. to noon
- Thursday, Oct. 27, 1 to 2 p.m.
- Monday, Oct. 31, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Citizens may apply for NLS service at any of the October events or year-round at any Virginia Beach Public Library location. For more on the Low Vision Technology Expo, to register for a tour of Bayside & Special Services Library, or for more information about NLS, call Pamela Brown at (757) 385-2685.
About Virginia Beach Public Library
A community anchor for more than 50 years, Virginia Beach Public Library includes a central library, eight area libraries, a law library and a bookmobile. Services include workforce development and job-search support, small business resources, computer and technology classes, early childhood literacy classes and local history archives. In addition to books in a variety of formats (print, audio and downloadable), the library provides online research tools accessible from home or work, as well as movies, music, and a variety of specialty collections. In 2010, the library saw 1.9 million people through its doors and checked out more than 3.3 million items. Visit www.VBgov.com/libraries for more information.