Birmingham Public Library's Regional Library
Computer Center Upgrades For Visually Impaired

BIRMINGHAM, AL -- The Jefferson County Library Cooperative’s Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) has just acquired two workstations to aid visually impaired persons in using Microsoft Office applications, access to the Internet, and offers the ability to read any of the library’s print material. The Adaptive Technology Computer Stations include JAWS software, Open Book Ruby Edition, and ZoomText Xtra 7.1.

JAWS® for Windows is a screen reader application program that works with PCs to provide access to today’s software applications and the Internet. With its internal software speech synthesizer and the computer’s sound card, information from the screen is read aloud, providing technology to access a wide variety of information, education and job related applications.

Open Book Ruby Edition is a software program that enables patrons to use personal computers to scan and read text. Patrons may scan text and have Open Book read to them or they may simply open a text and read it using this program. Open Book allows the visually impaired to alter the way the page is read aloud to them or, to modify the way the page is presented on the screen.

ZoomText Xtra 7.1 is magnification and reading software consisting of two product levels. Level 1 allows for clear images, smooth navigation, ease of use and a high level of compatibility. Level 1 features include magnification for advanced edge-smoothing, multiple zoom windows, intelligent tracking, smooth panning for quick screen navigation, color filtering for improved contrast, and support for Java applications. Level 2 features synchronized magnification and screen reading. Designed for low-vision users, Level 2 speaks all on-screen text, echoes typing and automatically reads multi-page documents.

Funding for the Adaptive Technology Computer Stations was made possible due to grant monies received through the Library Services & Technology Act program under the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The visually impaired workstations have large 19” monitors, with large print/braille keyboards. The RLCC will also be having an Open House on April 30th, with onsite trainers available from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The Regional Library Computer Center was opened in January of 1998, as a result of the generous donation from Bill and Melinda Gates through the Gates Library Foundation. The RLCC is open daily to patrons throughout Jefferson County and offers various computer classes on Tuesday and Thursday of every week.

The Jefferson County Library Cooperative (JCLC) is a non-profit organization composed of the 41 public libraries throughout Jefferson County. These include the 19 municipal libraries, the 21 libraries in the Birmingham Public Library System along with the Birmingham Botanical Gardens Library. The mission behind JCLC is to link together the member libraries to provide better, more efficient, centralized services for all county residents. For more information about the JCLC, please visit www.jclc.org or call 205.226.3615.

The Birmingham Public Library and its 20 branch locations provide the public with the most current collections, as well as providing the most comprehensive research tools in the state. The Birmingham Public Library strives to inform visitors by hosting special programs year round, such as Brown Bag Lunch series and Alabama Bound, as well as children’s programs from toddlers to teenagers. These programs allow the public to meet and greet guest lecturers, musicians, authors and publishers. For more information regarding the Birmingham Public Library and a list of exciting, upcoming events, please visit www.bplonline.org or call 205.226.3600.