Press contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public contact: Robert E. Fistick, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (202) 707-9279;
e-mail: rfis@loc.gov

December 21, 2001

Library of Congress, Mystic Seaport Collaborate on Initiative for Blind and Physically Handicapped Library Users

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress and Mystic Seaport, the Museum of America and the Sea, in Mystic, Conn., jointly announce a group of major accessibility initiatives for America's blind and physically handicapped individuals.

Among the projects announced are the following collaborative efforts:

  • to conceive, develop and publish a nautical alphabet book in large print, braille and tactile formats;
  • issue a digital audio version of an existing Mystic Seaport cookbook for the NLS digital audio development program and for Mystic Seaport's Internet Web site;
  • provide analog audio versions of Mystic Seaport books for blind individuals and for sale by Mystic Seaport to the general public;
  • provide English, German, French, Italian and Spanish audio and braille versions of the Mystic Seaport general handout for museum visitors;
  • provide information on docent and interpreter training on awareness and accommodation issues for persons with disabilities, including development of a "hands-on artifact" package for blind visitors;
  • include NLS and libraries serving blind and physically handicapped individuals in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts in the Mystic Seaport library membership program for use by visiting NLS patrons;
  • develop several projects for blind children; and
  • create a working relationship between the Connecticut State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Rocky Hill and Mystic Seaport in areas of mutual interest, under the coordination of NLS.

Paul O'Pecko, director of the G.W. Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport, noted the museum's excitement in developing these projects with NLS. "Mystic Seaport is committed to developing awareness and extending its programs to all Americans. These joint initiatives with the Library of Congress will expand this, the Museum of America and the Sea, to a higher level of accessibility. We are pleased and honored to work with NLS on these important projects."

The Mystic Seaport project represents a continuing effort by NLS to make braille, audio, tactile and digital materials available to blind individuals in a variety of settings.

NLS Director Frank Kurt Cylke said, "NLS has made a number of efforts over the years to work with other national institutions to promulgate accessibility of these reading materials to blind individuals. NLS has worked with the National Park Service to provide tour and information guides in braille and audio formats to several of its national parks, including Shenandoah National Park. Working with Cornell University's Department of Ornithology, NLS helped develop a Birdsong Tutor on audiocassette that has become a popular book for blind individuals. And the current effort with Mystic Seaport will add to our commitment to reach out to other national institutions."

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PR 01-185
12/21/01
ISSN 0731-3527

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