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In the US, public libraries have services for people with visual deficiencies

Translated from

The Dean Emerita at the University of New Mexico and Colorado, in the United States, Camila Alire, talked to Extra online newspaper about  the libraries, in her country, that are adapted for people with visual deficiencies.  She is the President of the American Library Association (ALA) and has come to Rio to participate in a seminar on Library Advocacy.  Camila says that American public libraries have specific collections for blind people.

EXTRA: How many libraries actually are adapted for people with visual deficiencies?

Camila Alire: I would be not able to say a precise number, but I can say that there are services in almost all the state public libraries across the country – and we have 50 state public libraries, one for each state.  I think that almost all of them, if not all of them, have services available for people with visual deficiencies.

E: Do you believe that people with visual deficiencies have access to culture in the United States?

C.A: I really believe that we do our best so that they do.  In the Library of Congress and in all state public libraries, or almost all of them, there are specialized services for people with visual deficiencies.  Recently I was in South Carolina and they gave a prize to retired people who volunteered to read books to be recorded and put in the library’s collection.  This enables people with visual deficiencies to have access to those books and borrow them from the library.   I think that in the United States, in general, we are very sensitive to all people with special needs;  I think we offer high-quality library services to those with  visual deficiencies.

E: How does the educational system in the United States stimulate people with visual deficiencies to access culture?

C.A.: I believe that, in general, we do a good job in the United States of providing services to those with visual deficiencies.  In the area of education, great efforts are made to offer everything necessary for our citizens with visual deficiencies. And we do that in elementary schools as well as in high schools and colleges.  Regarding libraries, none of them, whether public,  academic, or school libraries would refuse services to the blind; it wouldn’t matter if that blind person belonged to the school or the community.  Even if the library didn’t have the service in question, for instance a special audio book, someone from the library staff would request it through the inter-library loan system, for example.  We also have state and federal resources that allow us to offer services to people with visual deficiencies.  It’s very important for us to be able to help them as well as all American citizens with special needs.  In the US, there are federal laws saying that we have to offer equal access to all citizens and I think we do a good job of helping those who have visual deficiencies.


Copyright 2007-10 Camila Alire