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Firefly has supported the Internet for the blind in libraries

Firefly has supported the Internet for the blind in libraries What's the weather tomorrow? What do they write in today's newspapers? Who wrote me an email? - an easy thing for a searcher with free access to the Internet, often an insoluble problem for the blind or the visually impaired. Making the Internet accessible to blind and partially sighted people in libraries - this is the goal of the breakthrough Project FriendlyVox (NFFV), which last week was also supported by the Czech Radio Endowment Fund from the Světluška Collection.

The effort to make the online world available to public in public places for all who can not move around because of their disability, Svetluška valued 150,000 crowns. Money is used by FriendlyVox to cover the cost of library staff training.

"In order for the blind to function normally in life, they need to get the same information and have the same opportunities as people who see themselves well. Without a computer they are lost today, they do not read current news, they can not use the internet or mobile banking, they are practically cut off from things we consider to be commonplace. Supporting the FriendlyVox project, which enables people with visual impairments to use computers and the Internet in public libraries, is therefore logical, " says Přemysl Filip, director of the Czech Radio Endowment Fund, organizer of the Světluška collection.

FriendlyVox is a web portal designed specifically for the needs of users who can not use the screen and mouse while working with the computer. With the help of a few keys, visually impaired people read "news, emails, look at Wikipedia, take control of Youtube, get information on timetables for trains and buses, weather information, TV program, or play radio stations, and television shows. In the future, social networks could also be opened by FriendlyVox.

"Controlling the portal is so easy that people who do not normally work with the computer can do it after a while. You do not have to buy a special computer, just install the Google Chrome browser on your family computer. Thus, FriendlyVox is different from subtractable programs, which put considerable demands on its users. They are able to handle only some visual impairments, mostly from the younger generations with a positive relationship to computer technology, " says the author of the project, Vladimír Jareš, who was inspired by his blind son, Honza, to create a friendly portal. Part of the FriendlyVox project in libraries is also the training of librarians themselves so that they can help or direct them to service organizations such as TyfloCentra or SONS. The FriendlyVox service is free of charge, unlike a computer with a specialized reading program, which can also cost up to CZK 100,000. Moreover, such a computer can not be blind to sharing with the rest of the family.

According to Romano Giebische, chairman of the Union of Librarians and Information Staff (SKIP) of the Czech Republic, access to Internet content for visually impaired people is in line with the Standard Handicap Friendly Handbook for Libraries. It was prepared by the Section for Services for Persons with Special Needs SKIP and issued by the National Library of the Czech Republic with the support of the Ministry of Culture. This objective is also included in the document of the Czech Library Development Concept for the years 2017-2020. "There are 5,500 public libraries in the Czech Republic. Each of them is legally required to allow visitors access to information and Internet services. We are working to open up libraries to all people, with any disability. That is why we support the FriendlyVox solution that tries to do the same with one group of people, " adds Roman Giebisch.

There are over 100,000 people with visual impairment in the Czech Republic, with less than 10% of them being involved in the Unified Association of Blind and Sighty SONS. "There are no statistics on the use of the Internet among the visually impaired, we only know for sure that only a fraction of them can handle their needs in this area fully," adds Vladimír Jareš. "One of the goals of the FriendlyVox project for libraries is therefore to reach the widest circle of visually impaired people through the network of public libraries and show them that using the Internet may not be as complex as they may have thought."

Source: tz

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