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Libraries help those with poor eye sight

Probably the worst disability that can strike a life-long avid reader is one that threatens eyesight and limits ability to read ordinary print. Like many other seniors (one estimate puts the number at one in three persons over the age of 80) I was diagnosed with AMD (age-related macular degeneration) several years ago.

I feel fortunate to have acquired this condition at a time when medical science has treatment options that at least will prevent me from becoming totally blind. I am also blessed with my local library ” a place that has become my lifeline to continued reading enjoyment.

Almost every good current book ” and most classics, too ” are available in a large-print edition at all branches of the Garfield County Library District. If the one you want is not in the local collection, your librarian can usually get it on loan from another library on Colorado’s Western Slope.



When my vision deteriorated to a point at which even large print was not legible, the Rifle Library opened a veritable treasure chest of other options. It has a large and rapidly increasing collection of books on cassette tapes and CDs to use in inexpensive portable players. You can also download CDs onto a computer and transfer them to an iPod or other MP3 player. Librarians can also tell you how to access a limited number of books you can download directly onto such a player.

But wait, there’s more good news! Have you heard of Playaways? They are self-contained electronic devices you can borrow like books. Each tiny Playaway contains a complete book. (The library even provides fresh batteries.) Each branch library has a limited number of Playaways, but your librarian can tell you what is available for loan from the other branches.



If you have a computer or use one at the library, you can access the catalog on their

website http://www.garfieldlibraries.com. The catalog covers a consortium of libraries all

over the Western Slope. On their website you can browse the catalog and order any

of the above-mentioned items to be delivered via courier to your library branch. An e-mail will even notify you when they arrive.

If you calculate the cost of purchasing these media from online stores and services,

you will realize the values your library offers free of charge. With their help, low vision can become an adventure in discovering new ways to continue learning and keep enjoying the world of books.

Doris Shettel is a patron of the Rifle Branch Library in the Garfield County Library District.


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