The New Jersey State Library and the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI) have joined forces to launch the Library Equal Access Program (LEAP), an initiative that will offer beginner level assistive technology software training for New Jersey residents at select public libraries across the state.
The LEAP program, sponsored by CBVI, targets adults 55 years of age and older, and will provide basic computer skills training on how to use assistive software, such as magnification and audio reading tools, to help vision impaired users with reading websites, emails and other documents. Training will also include an introduction to using assistive technology features now available on iPads.
LEAP represents a unique partnership between CBVI, the New Jersey State Library’s Talking Book & Braille Center (TBBC), Advancing Opportunities, and three selected public libraries in New Jersey: Atlantic County Library at Mays Landing, East Brunswick Public Library, and South Orange Public Library. Classes will begin in mid-November at these three public library locations, where computers and iPads equipped with assistive software have been installed. Training will be delivered by the Assistive Technology Services program of Advancing Opportunities, a leading provider of disability services in New Jersey.
“The ultimate goal of the LEAP program is to promote independence and to remove the digital divide for older adults with vision impairments,” said Dan Frye, executive director of CBVI. “LEAP places state-of-the-art technology and training in public libraries to serve people closer to where they live. These classes for those new to iPads or assistive software will expand skills and opportunities.”
“Public libraries are learning centers for new technology,” said Adam Szczepaniak, deputy state librarian and director of TBBC. “This partnership boosts that level of learning to include not only assistive software for those with vision impairments, but training, as well, which is much needed by those who need a better way to read.”
Fred Tchang, director of Assistive Technology Services at Advancing Opportunities, noted “there are many people who need assistance learning how to use an iPad, and who need help browsing the internet because their vision is changing. This unique partnership gives older clients with vision impairments the support they need to succeed in learning new technology.”
For more information and to register, contact Advancing Opportunities, Assistive Technology Services, at 888-322-1918, ext. 595.