The First Lady, Her Excellency, Dr. Jean Ramjohn-Richards, Patroness of the Trinidad and Tobago Blind Welfare Association handed over a photograph of the late James Alves, founder of the Trinidad and Tobago Blind Welfare Association to the National Library on Monday 2 June. Receiving the photograph was Pamella Benson, executive director of NALIS who, in her welcome spoke of the many services offered to the visually, hearing and mobility impaired at the National Library of Trinidad and Tobago.
Benson said that the NALIS lists as one of its functions the provision of a national information service for the benefit of the physically disadvantaged and persons in institutions. Starting in 2001 at the Carnegie Free Library in San Fernando, the JAWS (Job Access With Speech) voice synthesizer software was installed. This programme uses synthetic speech technology to verbalize screen output for computer users who are visually impaired. With the opening of the National Library, visually impaired persons now have access to this software as well as screen magnification, close circuit TV magnifiers, and Optical Character recognition (OCR) reading system, Braille Displayers, Braille Embossers and Braille Writers. In addition, for persons who are hearing impaired, there is Next Talk software which allows hearing impaired person to communicate with library staff via a computer system and telephone line.
Alicia Lalite of the Torres Foundation gave the First Lady and her entourage of officials from the Blind Welfare Association and students of the School for Blind Children a demonstration of the equipment for visually impaired persons. Lalite is also visually impaired. Also in attendance at the handing over was the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Blind Welfare Association, Herbert Dolsingh and past teacher of the School for the Blind, Maurice Connor.
The National Library and Information System Authority is committed to partnering with the Blind Welfare Association, the PAVI and the Torres Foundation in the improvement of library and information services to the differently-abled in Trinidad and Tobago.