This library is helping the blind and visually impaired gain independence

BY Raven Santana, Correspondent |

Assistive technology software and devices at a new learning center in Trenton are breaking down barriers and providing independence to people who are blind and visually impaired.

The Library Equal Access Program, also known as LEAP, provides free computer and iPad training classes to visually impaired adults 55 and older and teaches them to use reading magnification and text-to-speech software. The program is housed at the Talking Book & Braille Center at the New Jersey State Library.

“They can do their own shopping, which makes them totally independent,” said Ines Matos, chief of organization logistics at the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. “They don’t have to wait for one of their friends or a loved one to come into the house and to assist them. Groceries, every day they are doing their own banking online, so it becomes an independence tool.”

Each class lasts about an hour and a half, accommodates up to four students and is taught in multiple languages. Additionally, all classes are taught by blind or visually impaired individuals and will be offered two times a week starting in March.

Matos says they are looking to implement the program at the Bloomfield Library next.