City libraries walk the talk

A new collaboration between the City of Cape Town’s Library Services and Tape Aids for the Avid Reader, will ensure visually impaired patrons and those struggling with learning disabilities such as dyslexia are able to access their audio books more readily.

Due to delays with the postal service, many members of Tape Aids are struggling to receive their talking books and libraries hope this new service will facilitate access to the material.

The pilot project between six of the City’s libraries and Tape Aids for the Avid Reader hopes to alleviate this problem by making facilities inclusive and accessible for patrons.

The Central, Rondebosch, Bellville, Bellville South, Strand and Grassy Park libraries have extended their services to include Tape Aids for the Avid Reader.

‘This means members of Tape Aids, as well as patrons to these libraries, will be able to access their talking books without having to wait for it to arrive via post. They will be able to take the CD or log onto the Tape Aids website and download the audio book to their smartphone,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Patricia van der Ross.

If a patron is not a member of Tape Aids, but a member of the library, they would be able to take out the audio books. Should you not be a member of a City library, staff will assist patrons in joining Tape Aids and/or the library.

Tape Aids for Avid Readers’ audio library shares the gift of reading with persons who have difficulty reading, opening whole new worlds by transforming the silent written page to the spoken word in English and the majority of South Africa’s indigenous languages.

The difference between the Tape Aids Hear-to-Read mini-libraries and all other libraries is that they produce all the accessible “Talking Books” available on their library shelves.

Their volunteer narrators and proof-readers throughout South Africa, have helped them transform over 40 000 book titles since 1958 when the non-profit organisation, Tape Aids for the Blind, was first established.

Since 2012, when they migrated from cassette tape formats to digital, Tape Aids has been paying it forward to benefit all persons who are visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled with conditions such as dyslexia (which affects more than 10% of our population), or autism or those with Parkinson’s or other physical or neurological disorders.

Tape Aids’ Talking Books are available to their members in the universal standard mp3 formats so they can be played back on any device including mobile phones. Their books have unique navigational encryption features to assist place finding by vision impaired users whilst also providing copyright protection to Publishers.

Working with policymakers, teachers, learners, and parents, Tape Aids is committed to building a nation of avid readers with good comprehension and pronunciation skills.

Tape Aids’ members can access the website by using screen-reader software that converts text to speech as well as other multi-layered accessibility features, applications and tools like audio prompts for the various functions, assisting visually impaired persons to easily navigate the website.

Tape Aids offers a Hear-to-Read Dual Reading Method and Talking Books where audible and visual (or tactile – Braille) inputs occur simultaneously.

‘The City’s LIS and Tape Aids are committed to raising literacy levels and building a new generation of readers. Books open up a world of escape, imagination and creativity and we will do all we can to ensure all our residents are included,’ said Councillor Van der Ross.

Caption 1: Tape Aids member Desmond Jacobs is happy the service is available at Bellville Library.

Caption 2: The display at Bellville Library.

Caption 3: Patron Alte Watkins, left, receives more information on the service at the Strand Library from assistant librarian Moeniera Gabier.

Source: City Of Cape Town

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