Our ability to communicate and learn through the written word is one of the keys to civilization. One of the key turning points in human development was when humankind began to write and thus preserve the thoughts of one generation for another. Have you ever thought what it might be like if you could not read?
This is not a column on the issue of literacy. That, too, is a critical key to the education of our young and the economic development of our community. And might be an issue for a future column. I love the bumper sticker I saw the other day, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” Today’s column is it about if for some physical reason someone is unable to read a book or magazine. What difference would that make in your life?
There is a program available for those who find themselves with this need. It is offered through the Georgia Libraries for Accessible Statewide Services (GLASS). Those eligible for the services offer includes anyone who is unable to read or handle standard printed material. Helen Keller, probably the best known of those who faced such a barrier, was a big supporter of this program. It is an outreach of the Library of Congress. The cost of program is a part of our federal government’s budget. It is free to those who need the services.
The services include books and magazines that you can listen to. The equipment is available to each person that needs the services. This is a device the disk can be played on. The equipment and the disks are all mailed to the address of the client. The client can keep the material and the equipment as long as needed. There are never any late fees. Now that’s a new way to run a library.
I might add the equipment is very user friendly. It is designed for use by the visibly challenged. Everything comes with a return envelope with prepaid postage. This equipment is lent to users free of charge as long as the individual is a part of the program. In addition to the standard equipment, accessories are available to help patrons with limited mobility and hearing issues. The batteries hold a charge for about 30 hours and can be charged in about two hours or so.
I have another thing I want you to give a thought to. Those who need the services of GLASS cannot read these words. You, who can, might be just the key to helping someone who needs these services. Share what is available. You can help get them registered by calling 1-800-248-6701 or contacting www.georgialibraries.org/glass.
In addition, for those who are blessed with good vision, there are no guarantees that we will always be so blessed. In encouraging such programs as GLASS we not only providing for those who need it today, but for those who might need it in the future.
In the political debate we will hear many cries for cutting governmental spending. And in my case I would agree. But before we merely cut, let’s make sure what we are eliminating. GLASS is a great example of the power of working together for the common good.
You might ask what is available through GLASS. Of course recorded and braille books from a collection of over 70,000 titles. You will find a variety of writings including bestsellers, classics, biographies, mysteries and westerns. Also available are children and young reader’s titles. Some even in languages other than English.
The GLASS patrons can also subscribe to over 70 popular magazines. Examples on the web site are Good Housekeeping, Sports Illustrated, and National Geographic. For both the books and magazines catalogs are available.
Think about who you might know that could use these services. Add to your potential list those who cannot see well enough or focus enough, even with glasses, to read standard print. Also persons who are unable to hold or turn pages of print books. The service is also available to anyone who is certified by a medical doctor as having a reading disability.
Remember all of us are already paying through our taxes to make this service available. And I think it is a great gift to offer. Compared to many tax-funded programs, it comes at a very modest cost. Be a good friend or family member or neighbor and pass the word about GLASS.