A NEW kind of pen is proving mightier than the sword for blind and partially-sighted people at a library in South Tyneside.
The PenFriend is a digital pen which scans a special label, triggering the unit into broadcasting a verbal synopsis of a talking book.
The aid is now available in Cleadon Park Library, South Shields, after volunteers attached labels to more than 200 audio books, recording the title, author and a brief summary of each.
South Tyneside Council’s lead member for leisure and community safety, Coun Tracey Dixon, said: “PenFriend was originally developed by the Royal National Institute for the Blind for labelling items such as tins in cupboards or CD collections, but the technology has all sorts of other uses.
“I’m sure its introduction will be welcomed by blind and partially-sighted visitors, as it will help them to retain their independence when choosing a talking book. Staff will be on hand to help people get to grips with the technology, and we are aiming to have the system in South Shields central library later this summer.”
The launch comes during the RNIB’S Make A Noise In Libraries Fortnight, and is part of the project being run by 12 local authorities in the region, led by South Tyneside Council.
Coun Dixon said: “This is brilliant news. The NEALIS project is a great example of how, by working in partnership with other councils, we can develop better services.
“We have been working closely with national charities such as Calibre, the RNIB and Clear Vision as well as Share the Vision, which brings together the voluntary and public sectors to improve library services.”