A new computer in a Galway library is making the world of print accessible to blind and visually impaired people.

Paul Higgins who lost his sight at the age of eighteen is now a regular user of the text to speech reader at Galway City Library. Mobility is often the main issue to when someone loses their sight, but not being able to read is just as significant.

A member of the Irish Guide Dogs Association and Galway City Partnership Paul Higgins receives a high volume of correspondence which is now available to him by scanning documents and using the computer's software. He is also able to read any of the newspapers, books and magazines on the library shelves.

The technology has given the blind the ability to read, and that is absolutely phenomenal.

Funded by Galway Lions Club, the Arts Council and a donation from AT Cross Limited, the computer opens up the world to the blind and visually impaired. The importance of this innovation cannot be underestimated says current Galway Lions Club president Des Kenny,

To bring the world of print back to a person who has already lost it is a major step.

The monotone robotic voice may take a little while to get used to, but the functions of this text to speech reader have impressed Galway City Librarian John Fitzgibbon,

It's extraordinary to think that it can read a document back to you.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 28 October 1996. The reporter is Jim Fahy.