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In 2004, the Torrance Public Library applied for and received an LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) grant, administered in California by the State Librarian, to improve services for individuals with disabilities. The Library used grant funds to create the ASSIST (Accessible Services for Seniors - Information, Systems, and Technology) program to serve older adults and others with sensory and physical/mobility disabilities. The program is intended to break down barriers to accessing community and library resources, services, and programs. To meet this goal, ASSIST provides computer hardware, software, and a range of assistive devices as well as new materials such as descriptive videos and Braille talking books.
The components of the ASSIST Program were selected with input from the Library's Planning Committee to help patrons with disabilites achieve greater independence in the use of information and community resources such as the library catalog and collections and the Internet. The program not only improved delivery of current services, but also added new library materials and increased awareness of library services and programs to people with disabilities.
ASSIST Program technology includes CCTV's (Closed Circuit Televisions), fully adaptive computer workstations, a scooter and other mobility devices, and a variety of hand-held magnifiers, adaptive keyboard joysticks and other input tools, a portable assistive listening device, and adaptive furniture required to make this technology as accessible as possible. Specialized lighting, reaching, and page-holding apparatus enable users with varying disabilities to use the new technology and services.
The Friends of the Torrance Library voted to supplement the LSTA grant and provided funding for the two completely adaptive workstations. The additional funding provided by the Friends covered the cost of computers, 19" flat screen monitors, operating systems software, and special text-to-speech software that enables individuals with sight disabilities to access the library's automated catalog and Internet resources. The Friends also provided funding for all Internet connection fees for the new workstations.
Through the ASSIST programs funded by LSTA grants and the assistance of the Friends of the Torrance Public Library, older adults and other with disabilities will find the library a "one stop" informational, cultural, and recreational resource for the City of Torrance.