By Leon Gray-Lockhart
BUILDING on his early success of introducing NVDA screen readers to the Stratford District Library, Gene Gibson has now managed to get screen magnification software installed on the library's public computers.
The software has been supplied by an online company called Worker's Collection and allows users of the computer access to a 'magnifying glass' window. This window can be dragged over any part of the screen to make it appear much larger.
"Anybody who knows how to use a computer mouse can use this software," said Gene, "so it's not only useful for people who are print disabled, but older people and people who may have forgotten their glasses."
"It's adjustable too, so people can set it depending on what they need."
It was the Aotearoa People's Network (APN) who put computers into public libraries around New Zealand, and it was them Gene approached about magnification software.
"After the screen reader success, I approached APN again about seeing if magnifying software could be installed, and they thought the idea was great."
Gene was familiar with a range of different magnifying software products and, having tested the Worker's Collection product, felt it was the best one he'd come across.
"As well as being user-friendly, the software had to be inexpensive," said Narelle Gibson, Gene's wife and fellow supporter of the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind (RNZFB).
"A lot of available adaptive technology is expensive and so price was always going to be a big thing," she said.
Being free, easy to use and effective, APN installed the software remotely on Stratford District Library's four computers, making Stratford the first local authority in the country to have it installed.
"All the computers are managed by APN," said Jonet Moore, Stratford District Librarian, "and the installation of the software fits in well with their digital strategy."
"It's been great to have Gene come and test the software."
Because the magnifying software is available for all users of the library's computers, both Gene and Jonet are hopeful that a wide range of people will use it too.
"Library staff are always on hand to help people get what they want out of the software and all people need to do is ask," said Jonet.
"The software is for the use of all people in the community, and we're keen to let as many people know about it as possible," said Gene.