The Regional Library Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
2009 International Award Joint winner
The website publicises all access services provided by the Access Team under the banner “Visually and Hearing Impaired People – Come and Join Us”. The service was started fourteen year ago and the commitment was gradually extended. It is part of a comprehensive service for the disabled offered by the Regional Library at Karlovy Vary.
The library is one of the few in the Czech Republic and internationally to provide sign language information on its website. The website includes information about the library facilities for visually impaired users, a catalogue of the extensive collection of accessible materials, audio books, availability of loan equipment such as radio-cassette players and other assistive aids. It provides information on their collection aimed at hearing impaired users, information about regular meetings, virtual library excursions for both visually and hearing impaired visitors, Sign Interpreted lectures, interesting web links and many other services, such as Sign Language courses for hearing people. Six courses have already taken place in 2009. The website provides details of a contact person.
The project has been financed by grants in 2006 and 2008 from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and the Endowment Fund J&T. Many of the improvements in accessibility for disabled people have come about because of the reconstruction of the library in 2005 financed by European Funds.
The library is one in ten in the Czech Republic to have an Access Team. Services include activities for physically disabled people and people with learning difficulties.
The activities for visually impaired and hearing impaired people are developed in response to user requests. The library co-operates with not profit organisations like the Deaf and Deaf-and-Dumb People’s Club in Karlovy Vary. It listens to disabled people actively and makes efforts to offer interesting services. The popularity of the services offered is apparent in the visitor figures collected for the take up of services by the Access Team. The Library provides a unique and special service to the visually and hearing impaired community in Karlovy Vary, one which represents: …a real breakthrough in the services of Czech libraries (Zlata Houskova, MA).
Plans for the future include more interpreted lectures and meetings, the purchase of more audio books and assistive aids, a computer course, a memory training course and a Czech course for deaf people.
The Library is in close contact with the media and informs Czech TV, press and radio about all events. Czech TV regularly features library events in their ‘News for Deaf People’ and earlier this year made a programme about the cooperation of the Library with hearing impaired people.