by Bill Dougherty, Head, Assistive Technology Loan Program and Adam Szczepaniak, Jr., Director, New Jersey Library for the Blind and Handicapped

Each year, more than 100 blind or visually impaired citizens of New Jersey receive personalized computer literacy training on loaned computers as a result of a unique partnership between the New Jersey Library for the Blind and Handicapped (LBH) and The New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI).

In this partnership, the New Jersey Library for the Blind and Handicapped (LBH), a bureau of the New Jersey State Library,† delivers and sets up a fully accessible computer at the Commissionís clientís home or workplace anywhere in New Jersey. These systems are on loan for up to six months. When the Commissionís councilor has completed the training with the client, the library arranges to pick up the computer.

The state of the art computer systems includes monitors, printers and scanners. Library staff preloads each system with adaptive software to enable the user to access the various online and Windows applications. This includes internet access using screen reading (JAWS) and screen magnification (Zoom Text) software. Scanning and reading text is also accomplished with text to speech optical character recognition programs such as Kurzweil and Open Book.

The clients are identified in the Commissionís Vocational Rehabilitation Unit. This unit assists people in the development, acquisition or updating of skills that will enable them to secure and maintain employment. This may include working in the labor force, operating their own business, supportive employment, or managing their own home.