A Sydney library has expanded its library services to include an accessible technology space.

The Liverpool City Library in South-West Sydney has made it easier for library visitors with mobility issues, vision impairment or learning difficulties to use library resources.

The accessible technology space offers electric height adjustable desks, two large screen PCs with Trackball mouse and BigKeys keyboards. PCs are equipped with assistive software including JAWS, ZoomText Fusion, Kurzweil 3000 and Read &Write TextHelp. The space also provides Merlin elite Pro, a high-performance desktop video magnifier with Full HD camera and Full Page Text-to-Speech.

The space was built with assistance from the State Library of NSW via a Public Library Grant.

Acting library coordinator Donna Edgar told F2L she put in a request for the grant for accessible technology, after noticing visitors in wheelchairs having difficulties using the library PCs on fixed height desks, and customers with low vision using the keyboards. Edgar said libraries can submit details for a grant request including costings, reasons for the project, etc. Census data supported the application, as Liverpool has a higher percentage of people living with a disability than most of Sydney.

“We want everybody to be comfortable using the library because many things we take for granted present challenges for other members of the community. I’m not aware of other public libraries with a similar space but Canada Bay and Sutherland Libraries have visited to see our accessible space, so I’m hoping other libraries take it up,” she said. “Our library was modelled on the NSW State Library that offers similar technology to what we have, but I also reached out to local disability groups, and educational institutions such as universities and TAFE for advice.”

The Liverpool Library space is also supported with its accessibility collection, that contains a range of books for people with disability, their families and friends and includes fiction and nonfiction books in Dyslexie font for all age groups.

And while the library has been promoted through social media, Edgar said there are people who could benefit from the technology who aren’t aware of its new accessible technology offerings.

The space is available during opening hours, Monday – Friday 9:30am – 8pm, Saturday 9:30 am – 4pm and Sunday 12-4pm and located at 170 George Street, Liverpool.

According to Edgar the area is not currently well utilised with only a handful of regular users. “The collection is being used, but the space is not.”

For those interested in the library space, tours can be arranged. Contact: 02 8711 7149 or email: edgarD@liverpool.nsw.gov.au

Photo Credit: Dave Duncombe