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A Library for the Ages

The city's new West Hollywood Library will be equipped with state-of-the-art tools to assist seniors and the disabled.

The term “senior-friendly” often refers to a community, a city or a building that is comfortable, accessible and welcoming for everyone, but with special amenities for folks who are over the age of 65. And so it will be with the , which officially opens on Saturday, Oct. 1.

“We wanted to provide state-of-the-art enhanced accessibility tools that are above and beyond those typically offered in public libraries,” said Linda Demmers, a consultant who has been involved with the project for over 13 years, “and we will be able to do that."

A $20,000 grant to the library in 2008 by the National Organization on Disability (NOD) will be used to provide enhanced services for the disabled, said Demmers.

Before deciding how to utilize the NOD grant, West Hollywood's Disabilities Advisory Board (DAB) reviewed the data on the numbers and types of disabilities in West Hollywood compared to national averages. They found a significantly older population with a higher percentage of disabled residents.

Visual impairment was identified as one of the greatest disabilities facing the community, so Optelec machines (a text enlarger for print and objects), audio books, large print materials, large keyboards, large monitors, and Closed Captioned TV for text and portable magnifiers were purchased.

The Disabilities Advisory Board (DAB) and the Senior Advisory Board (SAB) held joint meetings and attended equipment demonstrations before making their final decisions, Demmers said.  

“Dragon Naturally Speaking,” a program that makes it easier for anyone to use a computer, will be available. You talk, and it types. Using voice, the program creates and edits documents or emails, launches applications, opens files, controls the mouse, and more.

Another state-of-the-art software, “ZoomText Magnification,” will provide an advanced screen magnification program that enlarges and enhances everything on the computer screen, making it easier to see and use. The software can also change the contrast of dark on light to light on dark, which is more easily read by those with impaired vision.

The funds will also be used to purchase video telephone technology for the hearing impaired.

"The NOD funds will also enable us to provide training for staff in working with individuals with disabilities,” noted Demmers, “in addition to training for the public in how to use the new equipment with the accessories they have on their own computers."

"Many of these tools are already available on PCs and MACs. People just need training to use them,” Demmers added.

Clear aisles and ample space to pass between tables and chairs will make the space easier to navigate for individuals in wheelchairs or with other mobility disorders. Visitors can also make use of several rollators (walkers on wheels with baskets attached).       

This long-planned and greatly anticipated addition to the West Hollywood landscape promises to be a focal point for all ages, where residents and others will have the opportunity to pursue personal, professional or civic interests in a beautiful and stimulating state of the art setting.

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Larry-bob Roberts September 27, 2011 at 05:59 PM
Looking forward to checking out the library when I go to the West Hollywood Bookfair on Sunday.
Steve Ward September 27, 2011 at 06:05 PM
With conversation about caring for the aged on the table, what about preserving the Fickett Library built for our community in 1959? As the City celebrates the 'new', I say we also consider the 'old'. Please ask the City to re-use the old Fickett library in a new re-adaptive manner.

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