Award Report – White Nights
The Swedish Institute accepts students with visual impairments and other disabilities. Our goal is to provide blind and visually impaired students access to today’s software applications and the Internet. By receiving a Technology award from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, we were able to purchase JAWS 8.0 (screen reading software for the blind) and ZOOMTEXT 9.1 (text magnifier for the visually impaired students).
Before the equipment was purchased, visually impaired and blind students did not use the library. JAWS 8.0 offers an audio alternative to the computer screen, allowing users to surf the Internet, communicate with the faculty and their peers via e-mail, type and edit documents using Microsoft Office applications. ZOOMTEXT 9.1 provids excellent magnification of the computer screen. Disabled students are now frequent visitors of our library.
This project touched me in a personal way, because my mother is visually impaired and I have experienced first hand the challenges a disabled person faces. The major challenges facing blind students in college today, center on an overwhelming amount of printed materials such as: textbooks, class outlines and bibliographies. Our goal was to supply tools necessary to succeed and overcome the challenges that they face in college.
Some years ago, a reporter asked a prominent blind woman, “What is it that blind people would want from society?” The woman replied, “The opportunity to be equal and the right to be different”. With the completion of the project we provided our blind and visually impaired students with the right “to be equal” to other students, the right to get access to all the resources they may need to get a good education, to succeed in life, and to reach the goals and dreams, which would never have been possible before.
Irina Meyman- Swedish Institute, College of Health Sciences. New York City, NY