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The portal for the blind will help libraries with surfing the internet

A library, a place to borrow a book, listen to music, use the internet. Common practice for most people, a big problem for those they do not see. Since April, the FriendlyVox Foundation has been teaching dozens of librarians on a system that helps blind people to use the internet easily.

The library serves an awareness-raising function to help other blind and visually impaired people take the first step on their way to online space. There are over 100,000 visually impaired people in the Czech Republic.

"A blind person has the right to access Internet services in similar or identical conditions as a person sees. Visually impaired, however, use the internet significantly less, even in the case of advanced services such as e-shops, social networks or internet banking even less often, " says Robert Štěrba of the FriendlyVox Foundation. In order to make it easier for people who can not see the world in the virtual world of the Internet, FriendVox has come up with an internet portal of the same name. It can be run on any computer and easily operated with several keys.

"What is commonplace for seeing a person, such as finding the nearest train, tram, bus, informing about traffic jams, purchasing food with home delivery, checking out your bank account status or making a transaction, is very complicated for most blind people. Accessing this information on the Internet would undoubtedly make life much easier. However, a computer with a standard reader program requires blind people to have extra knowledge of working with it. I very often encounter people who, while undergoing intensive training, are not able to work with such a computer. It's enough to change the look of the screen, for example by making some updates, and they can start learning again. Many blind and visually impaired people prefer to resign to the sound of the computer, " says the blind consultant Josef Konečný, a consultant for removing architectural barriers. "FriendlyVox is great in being simple and still the same as the blind one, it can work with it forever."

The Internet of Visually Impaired Internet Access through Public Libraries is welcomed by Roman Giebisch, Chairman of the Union of Librarians and Information Staff (SKIP) of the Czech Republic. Libraries should, according to him, become an information haven for all groups of citizens irrespective of their state of health. "Working with FriendlyVox helps open the library to visually impaired people," says Giebisch, who trains himself on the portal. There are 5,500 public libraries in the Czech Republic.

"The state declares its interest in bringing the Internet closer to disadvantaged groups of citizens, among whom the blind no doubt belongs. It is strange that in the case of libraries, the role of the state must be replaced by a private entity, " comments Vaclav Krasa, chairman of the National Council of People with Disabilities.

Portfolio extension in the network of public libraries and the training of librarians is realized by the FriendlyVox Foundation and financially supported by the Czech Radio Endowment Fund from the Světluška collection. The first people will start training in Brno at the Mahen Library, exactly on the day when the Run for Firefly starts, ie on 19 April. A month later, on 24 May, the librarians will be trained at the National Library in Prague's Klementinum.

Brno's Mahen Library has so far offered blind computers with software for the blind and partially sighted, where they could use the standard screen reader program. "However, programs for the blind are quite difficult to control, and they are undergoing demanding computer training, such as at TyfloCentrum. For this reason, the use of libraries is not a mass issue, " says Dagmar Čadova from the Library for the Blind and Blind at the Mahen Library in Brno. However, the potential is great, only in Brno there will be a library for blind and visually impaired 2200 visitors, whom now librarians can show an easier way to internet waves. "The friendly FriendlyVox portal is unique in that it is free of charge, we can install it on ordinary computers that we have in the library and the librarian will be able to teach the blind to work with the system after the training and take the first step to work with the Internet" added the spokesperson of the library Jana Kuncová.

Internet usage in the general population is growing rapidly, currently using over 75% of the population over 16 years of age. Its usage also increases among people aged 55-74 years. While in 2005 it used 10% of the population in this age category, it is 56% in 2015.

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About the FriendlyVox portal
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 several 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 selected radio stations and television shows. The portal is so simple that it will be dominated by people who do not normally work with the computer. They do not have to buy a special computer, just install the Google Chrome browser. The service is free for end-users.

Source: tz, edited editorially

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