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Libraries Change Lives award - NEALIS project runner up

Thu, 23 Jun 2011

The North East Access Library and Information Services (NEALIS) project, led by Share the Vision, with funding from Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, was today announced as runner up in the CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award.

This award, now in its 20th year, is one of the leading accolades in the library and information world.

Mark Freeman, Chair of NEALIS and Libraries Manager, South Tyneside said: “In the past two years NEALIS has made great strides in developing library services to blind and partially sighted people throughout the North East of England. I am particularly pleased that the changes were made following consultation with blind and partially sighted people in the region and based on their feedback.”

The consultation revealed blind and partially sighted people often found it difficult to navigate their library and there was confusion amongst both readers and library staff about suitable reading equipment, and where to turn for information and advice.

Since the project started in 2009, teams of reading buddies, including young people working towards their Duke of Edinburgh Award, have been trained to help readers navigate around some of the libraries in the region, and to choose books and assist with technology. The project has also introduced RNIB's Penfriend as a tool to help blind and partially sighted people choose their own books.

This project has helped shaped Six Steps, a national commitment by public libraries to improve the delivery of services for blind and partially sighted people.

Helen Brazier added: "Along with all the project partners, RNIB is committed to improving access to reading for blind and partially sighted people and ensuring they continue to enjoy their love of reading.

"This project is an excellent example of how partnership working, between public libraries and specialist agencies can bring about real change to the lives of blind and partially sighted people."

Learning from the NEALIS project can now be rolled out across the country as a beacon of good practice.

A library customer using a Penfriend device

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