Peng Yuying, 77, has been going to a library reading room for the blind in Lanzhou, Gansu province, every week for more than eight years. Recently, the library started enhancing its services for patrons.
"I love being here. I feel very full and complete," said Peng, a native of Lanzhou."It makes me happy to come to the library everyday to meet with friends."
To protect the reading rights of the disabled, provide self-improvement and fulfill their spiritual and cultural needs, the Disabled People's Federation in Gansu set up a reading room for the blind in the Gansu Provincial Library with the help of the Sunshine Project.
After the reading room was created, the library collected information about blind residents, contacted blind readers, registered their home addresses and invited them to participate in activities. It also set up a system of free book delivery.
In the reading room, patrons hunch over pages of Braille, passing sensitive fingertips over the raised bumps that stand for words and phrases. The pages rustle softly as they are turned.
In March 2011, the Sunshine Project was officially launched to provide the deliveries. Specialized staff at the library provide individual services. The staff is responsible for things such as equipment debugging, book borrowing, online information retrieval and downloading services. They also provide free lunch. When the blind patrons complete their visit, they are taken home safely on a shuttle bus provided by the library.
To improve the blind patrons' computer skills, the library also organizes computer training courses. Staff members take charge of the training, during which they not only explain basic computer concepts but also provide step-by-step directions in the use of screen-reading software designed for the blind. Mastery of basic skills includes surfing the internet, listening to music, sending emails, downloading, listening to a movie, creating documents and chatting online.
In this way, the library greatly enriches the cultural lives of the blind readers, giving them a new opportunity to understand and contact the world through a keyboard and airphone.
"In the future, we will be committed to offering better services for the blind by setting up supporting facilities,decreasing the cost of books and improving the structure of the collection," said Guo Xiangdong, a library director.