Victory for St Albans’ sight-impaired people after Herts county council promises to keep magnifier machine

Books lining a set of shelves. Picture: mazzzur

Books lining a set of shelves. Picture: mazzzur - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sight-impaired people in St Albans have scored a victory after Herts County Council promised to replace a magnifier machine in the library.

Dave Richardson, of Drakes Drive, struggles to see further than six feet in front of him and relies on a magnifier machine in St Albans library to read letters, newspapers and the blurbs of books.

He came and spoke to the Herts Advertiser this week after the library’s manager told him the machine had been removed from the library, which is based in The Maltings, and it would not be replaced.

He said: “They are taking away my little bit of independence.

“I called it my quiet friend. I could get a book and go have a read. I used it every Saturday and in the week when I get a book, I can take it to the machine so I can read the blurb and know if I am going to enjoy the story.”

The manager told him this was because no-one used the machine.

But Mr Richardson, who has to have injections into his eye to help him see, has been using it for four years and saw at least one other person using it.

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At home, he relies on a gadget attached to his TV, which he can scroll through text with, and he also uses a magnifying glass, but prefers using the machine when he is in the library.

He could not recall seeing any warning the machine would be going.

A Herts County Council spokesperson said: “Hertfordshire Libraries take feedback of this nature very seriously.

“The magnifier was removed from St Albans Library last year following a survey and equality impact assessment.

“However, in light of recent feedback from a customer, we have reviewed our provision and will be re-providing an electronic magnifier to support all of our visually impaired customers as soon as possible.”

Mr Richardson said after he heard the news: “I’m over the moon really because I was upset about it and I thought the little man was not going to win.”

After he found out the council planned to remove the machine, Mr Richardson spoke to county councillor Anthony Rowlands, and soon after, the library told Mr Richardson they would install a new one.

“I can go back to reading books and my papers,” he said.