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The North East Access Library and Information Services (NEALIS)

NEALIS is a cross sectoral project with the objective of improving the quality of library services for blind and partially sighted people in the North East of England. Its aims are to

  • Develop the core library offer for blind and partially sighted people, in consultation with users;
  • Communicate the library offer effectively to users, potential users and key intermediary organisations;
  • Ensure all new registered blind and partially sighted people are aware of the library offer;
  • Develop the library offer to integrate services for blind and partially sighted people into mainstream provision;
  • Develop sustainable models of service delivery;

The partners include Share the Vision, the Society of Chief Librarians, all 12 public library authorities in the North East of England, RNIB, Calibre Audio Library, ClearVision Project, National Talking Newspapers & Magazines, Visionary, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP).

Some of the activities that have taken place since the start of the project in 2009:

  • Two reader consultation days that helped to shape the project and evaluate progress;
  • Collected benchmark data;
  • Commissioned research into the ways that people find out about and choose which library services to use;
  • Identified core offer across regions;
  • Organised training day for 80 library staff;
  • Testing use of RNIB Penfriend as an aid to book selection;
  • Explored opportunities for collection sharing;
  • Offering volunteer reading and technology buddies;
  • Joint marketing and promotions;
  • Tested new tools such as Reading Sight, Your Reading Choices, ebooks guidelines;
  • Contributed to Six Steps;
  • Held a customer awareness week in Newcastle.

In July 2011, NEALIS was named as a finalist in CILIP’s Libraries Change Lives Award.

NEALIS has demonstrated that diverse partnerships, which utilise specialist knowledge and understanding of local communities, are able to produce models for working which are relevant in other areas of the country.

Reading Sight

Reading Sight was created by RNIB in collaboration with partners to be the single and authoritative place to find out about reading for people with sight loss and is now managed by Share the Vision.
It was launched in June 2009 at the Umbrella Conference.

Reading Sight is a free resource for library staff, teachers, rehabilitation workers and anyone who supports people with sight loss to continue reading.

Reading Sight is the place to find information on:

  •  Legislation and policy relating to reading with sight loss;
  • Organisations that provide reading resources and services for people with sight loss;
  • Accessible formats - what they are and where to find them;
  • Accessible buildings and equipment;
  • Staff and volunteer training and development.

Young Reading Lives

This is a new area about and for children and young people and their parents, teachers and carers. This part of the Reading Sight offering is overseen by the Children's Response Group.

The goal is to make video and audio recordings of young people, their parents, teachers, sighted friends, librarians and care workers. These are real life stories that show the range of opportunities for visually impaired children to enjoy reading and access the range of services to support them in that. The plan for 2011/12 is to create eight sections or “portraits”. Each portrait will have two or three short video clips and a single extended audio file. Media professionals have been commissioned to record and edit the sessions. This content will be available through Reading Sight and on wider networks such as Vimeo and YouTube.

Six Steps to library services for blind and partially sighted people

In a UK-wide effort to improve access for blind and partially sighted people, public libraries are adopting six important simple steps that will ensure everyone can use their library. For the two million blind and partially sighted people in the UK this will be a lifeline to the leisure, learning and information resources that public libraries offer.

Included in the six steps initiative are collections of large print and audio books, having a library champion for the reading needs of blind and partially sighted people, and making sure that technology in libraries is accessible to all.

Six steps to library services for blind and partially sighted people is a joint effort initiative by the Society of Chief Librarians, Scottish Library & Information Council and Share the Vision.


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