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Itasca Community Library's Vision Center

Webinar video

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Webinar Description

Does your library provide assistive technology for patrons who are blind or have low vision? Or is this a goal for the near future? Join this session to learn from the Itasca Community Library (IL), which provides special technology, services, materials and equipment for patrons with vision impairments. With generous support from the local Lions Club, a Vision Center was created in the library.

In this webinar, we talk with Adult Services Librarian Soon Har Tan about special technology, services, materials and training the library provides for patrons with vision impairments. We're also be joined by Tom Perski, senior vice president/rehabilitation services for The Chicago Lighthouse. He assisted Soon Har with planning the Vision Center.

This webinar is part of a series of webinars exploring the Edge Initiative Benchmarks. Benchmark 11 states, "Libraries ensure participation in digital technology for people with disabilities". A coalition of leading library and local government organizations are working on Edge, including The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Urban Libraries Council, American Library Association's OITP, International City/County Management Association, Lyrasis, Public Library Association, State Libraries of California, Oklahoma and Texas, TechSoup Global, Universities of Maryland and Washington, and WebJunction/OCLC. The Edge Initiative is a voluntary assessment program that provides libraries with benchmarks, best practices, tools and resources that support continuous improvement and reinvestment in public technology services. Edge helps libraries connect their services to community priorities. Edge will be available to public libraries nationwide in January 2014.

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Speaker Information

Soon Har Tan explored the options for how to make it happen at a small library, when the Itasca Lions Club gave the Itasca Community Library a grant to set up services for people with vision impairments. She has learned more about accessibility than she thought possible while a student at Dominican University. She is head of the Adult Services Department at the Itasca Community Library.

Thomas Perski is the Senior Vice President/Rehabilitation Services for The Chicago Lighthouse. Tom has been a pioneer in the field of low vision for over 25 years. He began many low vision support groups. He was instrumental in working with other agencies for the blind to help begin such programs as the Seeing Is Believing children's low vision program and the Discovery Low Vision Conference. Tom was Founder and Executive Director of Macular Degeneration International from 1994 to 2004.

Tom began losing his vision to Stargardt Macular Dystrophy while in college, giving up his hopes for a career as a commercial artist and giving up playing basketball and driving a car. He later returned to college as a legally blind student where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Family and Community Counseling both from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.

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