New Jersey Libraries LEAP into Action for Visually Impaired Patrons

library accessibility for the blind with assistive technology

It’s a wrap! In the early 20th century, special books for the blind were wrapped and sent to patrons. Nowadays, with more modern technology, blind library patrons have access to many books on site. Source: New York Public Library Digital Library, via Wikimedia Commons


Libraries have traditionally been associated with printed books. After all, the word “library” is derived from the Latin librarius, “of books” and liber, “book.” However, patrons who are blind or visually impaired are unable to pick up and read a book. Some libraries offer a selection of books in braille. A greater number have a selection of recorded books that many patrons long on literary interest but short on time have been able to borrow. Then, with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990–covered in an earlier piece in this space—there has been a considerable increase in public awareness of accessibility for people with disabilities. The recorded books have long been considered a form of assistive technology, with Learning Ally in Princeton, NJ, a pioneer in the field of books for the blind and people with learning disabilities such as dyslexia. (One of our consumers, Brian M., is a notable success story.) Enter the Library Equal Access Program (LEAP).


Apple iPad assistive technology for the blind and dyslexic dyslesia

The Apple iPad is an increasingly important device for people with disabilities who like to read. This is the 2017 model. Photo by Frmorrison, via Wikimedia Commons

LEAP is a project of the Commission of the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI), a division of the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS). (DHS is the state department that oversees the Division of Developmental Disabilities, which serves adults over age 21 who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.) LEAP provides free training in speech and magnification assistive technology to library patrons age 55 and older. At this time, LEAP is available at the following New Jersey libraries:


LEAP is sponsored by CBVI, in collaboration with Advancing Opportunities, and the New Jersey State Library. Persons interested in registering for this valuable service should contact Advancing Opportunities Assistive Technology Services, at 1-888-322-1918, extension 595.

The Library Equal Access Program LEAP offers assistive tech for blind New Jersey patrons.

The Library Equal Access Program LEAP offers assistive tech for blind New Jersey patrons.

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If you have questions about the services and supports available through Advancing Opportunities, please let us know and we'll get to you as soon as we are able.

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The LiveScribe Echo Smartpen enables students with learning disabilities to connect notes with audio text.Assistive technology in the form of smartphone apps helps woman with traumatic brain injury to remember everyday tasks for her children
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