Access Beyond the Stacks

Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology

The Chester County Library has been chosen as one of five libraries in the Southeastern PA region to participate in this program sponsored by Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT) at the Institute on Disabilities and provided through the generosity of the Albert B. Millett Memorial Fund, a BNY Mellon Mid-Atlantic Charitable Trust. 

In the digital age, libraries continue to be a valuable resource for information, entertainment, and community sharing. Unfortunately, many older adults, and others with vision loss, find it difficult to read standard print, locate material in a library, and master the use of mobile technology such as tablets. 

Access Beyond the Stacks has provided participating libraries with equipment to encourage and assist individuals with vision impairment to return to their local libraries and more effectively use and enjoy this valuable community resource. Several devices have been selected and provided to the participating libraries. Library patrons may use these devices in the Library and can request them at the Chester County Library Reference Desk. Staff members have received training on the devices and will be able to offer instruction.

The available devices are: Ruby Hand Held Electronic Magnifier - This light-weight, powerful magnifier can increase text and images up to 12 times its original size. It can change the appearance from full color to high contrast settings such as bright white with black text or black with white text, as well as other display options. A handy feature is the folding handle where a user can hold the electronic magnifier above objects and text and it will automatically adjust size depending upon distance from the object. The freeze image feature will temporarily hold the image so the user can bring the device closer for a better view, helpful when trying to read the spine of a book on a shelf or a CD label.  

The iPad Air will serve persons with vision loss in many ways: books downloaded in electronic format can be viewed using the built in magnification features of the device; apps are available that can take a photo of printed text, available that can take a photo of printed text, convert it into an alternative display and then read content aloud back to you; the standard magnifier apps can act as another electronic magnifier where text or objects can be viewed using the camera of the iPad.

The noise-canceling headphones will allow the user to listen to scanned texts or access already scanned books and magazines or read downloaded audio books in the library collection, without interruption from outside sound or without disturbing other patrons.  

iPad stands are available and are specially designed for the iPad. These stands will provide the user with optimum positioning for scanning and viewing.

PIAT strives to enhance the lives of all Pennsylvanians with disabilities, older Pennsylvanians, and their families, through access to and acquisition of assistive technology devices and services. For more information about PIAT and all of their projects visit their website at