Library tech offered for hearing, visual impaired

HARLINGEN — Lines of communication just became clearer for the hearing impaired at the Harlingen Public Library.

People who use sign language to communicate can call anyone whether they know sign language or not using equipment at the library.

The library now has a video relay service for the hearing impaired.

The location is on the second floor in the periodicals area. Use of the equipment is free to special needs patrons.

“It’s a great technology and not very many libraries have it,” said Mabel Hockaday, Harlingen’s reference services librarian. “Houston is the closest library that has one of these.”

The machine is the Sorenson Video Relay Services. It empowers the deaf community to communicate with both deaf and hearing family, friends and business contacts using the services.

The user signs to the interpreter digitally connected on screen. Next, the interpreter speaks to the hearing user. Then the interpreter signs to the deaf user to hold a conversation.

“It’s free of charge and free to us,” Hockaday said.

The services are paid for by the government’s telecommunications Relay Service fund.

The library also provides books on digital cartridge for the blind with the talking book program.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission provide library services to Texans who cannot read standard print due to a visual, physical or reading disability.

Texas Book Program readers can down load audio books from the Braille and Audio Reading down load service.

The services consist of a collection of more than 70 different magazines and 89,000 book titles, including best sellers (fiction and nonfiction), classics, mysteries, westerns, science fiction, children’s books, biographies and more.