Manchester City Council is launching a new partnership with the charity Henshaws to extend the support, advice and resources available within the city’s libraries for people with sight impairment.

Staff from Henshaws will be based on the second floor in Central Library, every Friday – offering specialist support, technology assessments, demonstrations and training to people with sight loss, on an appointment basis.

The charity will also offer training to volunteers wishing to support those who are visually impaired.

Henshaws support visually impaired people to make informed choices about their future and take the next step in life; whether that’s towards employment, accessing new technology, or meeting new people in social groups.  The charity works in over a dozen hubs across Greater Manchester and last year celebrated its 180th birthday with an exhibition, held at Central Library.

Assistive technology and adapted computer equipment is on offer at Central Library.  North City Library also offers adapted computers and assistive technology, while all Manchester libraries have SuperNova software, which is used to magnify text or convert it to speech, giving access to standard Microsoft products and the internet.

Henshaws offer training on how to use SuperNova, as well as a range of other products and solutions, including Apple products, JAWS, OrCam and much more.

Extended free computer time allowance is offered to people living with sight loss at Manchester’s libraries, while library staff are able to advise on stock which is available in an accessible format, such as spoken word, large print or e-book.

Executive Member for Schools, Culture and Leisure, Councillor Luthfur Rahman, said: “We’re determined to ensure that Manchester’s library services are accessible to all of our citizens, so extending our offer to people living with sightloss through this partnership with Henshaws is a natural step.  Their expertise will help more residents to find the information, advice and help they need to achieve their ambitions, develop new skills and build their confidence.”

Mark Belcher, Community Services Digital Manager for Henshaws, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity and true partnership between Henshaws and Manchester City Council; allowing us to support more and more visually impaired people in Greater Manchester to access life-changing technology, in a place that’s convenient for them.”

Henshaws staff will be available at Central Library from 10am – 4.30pm every Friday.  Those wishing to speak to an advisor will need to book a free appointment in advance.  To book, call 0300 222 5555.


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