Michigan VISIONS and MedlinePlus
By Anna Ercoli Schnitzer
Taubman Health Sciences Library
University of Michigan
Three staff members of the University of Michigan A. Alfred Taubman Health Sciences Library staffed a table at the biennial VISIONS Conference on May 12, 2010. Originally sponsored by the Washtenaw County Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled, this is an event currently organized and presented by the Ann Arbor District Library as an occasion for vendors to demonstrate technological advances that will be helpful to people who are visually impaired. The conference is held at Washtenaw Community College in Ypsilanti, Michigan and usually attracts about 500 or more participants and some of them travel considerable distances to attend.
Surrounded by guide dogs and booths promoting Braille literature, magnifiers and other devices related to visual topics, the Library staff members handed out MedlinePlus pens and pertinent material on the MedlinePlus database as well as brochures for NIH Senior Health and similar NLM material.
The participants seemed very interested in hearing about and taking away the information given to them at our Library table. Many of them expressed comfort with using a computer, while others said that they were just becoming familiar with online services and resources. In addition to factual questions that we could confidently answer, there were several queries pertaining to medical insurance coverage and whether MedlinePlus could tell them who are the “best doctors” in their area.
All in all, the VISIONS conference seemed quite successful both with respect to what the attendees could learn across a wide spectrum of topics, such as MedlinePlus, innovative computer mechanisms already or about to be on the market, and the availability of service dogs and of home assistance. Another very positive element was the spirit of camaraderie that prevailed among the participants.