BY CONNIE COUSINS
BELLEFONTE — Representatives of the North Central Sight Services (NCSS) presented $10,000 worth of technology devices to Bellefonte Library to assist library visitors with low vision on Feb. 28.
Bellefonte is the main branch of the Centre County Library System. The Centre County Library and Historical Museum comprises five locations: Holt Memorial Library in Philipsburg; Centre County Library in Bellefonte; the Centre Hall Area Branch Library in Centre Hall; the Historical Museum & Pennsylvania Room in Bellefonte; and the Bookmobile, with stops throughout Centre County. Call (814) 355-1516 or visit centrecountylibrary.org .
Any library patrons are invited to stop and learn about the new equipment for the visually impaired.
The devices donated included two desktop video magnifiers, five handheld devices, two high contrast/large print keyboards and one large monitor, as well as a Zoom-text magnifying software license.
This first-time technology gift was made possible through an anonymous donor’s grant presented to the nonprofit organization. As a result, these devices are available for any library patron to use.
In welcome remarks, Nicholas Struble, branch manager of the Bellefonte Library, said, “As a public library, we aim to make our collections and resources accessible to everyone in the community. Prior to this generous donation, our offerings for individuals who have low vision were limited to audiobooks and large-print books. Now a world of additional books and other library materials are accessible to them.”
That this was a substantial anonymous gesture is an understatement.
Denise Sticha, Centre County Library and Historical Museum executive director said, “I am completely blown away by this gift. So large segments of our population have been disenfranchised by their limited vision with little to help them. This equipment will make a huge difference to have the low visioned able to join in the activities and resources of our libraries.”
Brian Patchett, North Central Sight Services president and CEO, explained more about the NCSS and its work.
Founded in 1957, it is an inclusive notfor-profit agency with a threefold mission to prevent vision loss through exams and education, help children and adults adapt to low vision and employ people with low vision (from NCSS’s press release). NCSS serves six counties in northern Pennsylvania.
The driving force for NCSS is a passion for empowering blind or visually impaired persons to live independently and enjoy life to the fullest. To that end, the sight magnifiers boost independence among the visually impaired and blind.
Brandon DeArment, NCSS technology specialist, demonstrated the handheld and desktop video magnifiers. Then, Gary Hoover, executive director of the Bellefonte Intervalley Area Chamber, handed a pair of giant scissors to Denise Sticha, Centre County Library and Historical Museum executive director, to cut the ribbon.
Mark Higgins, Centre County commissioner; Amy Alexander, NCSS development director; Brian Patchett, NCSS president and CEO; and Brandon DeArment, NCSS technology specialist, also shared the ribbon-cutting moments.
The Centre County Library staff will be learning to operate the new equipment and be ready to help as more people hear about the visual aids and stop to try them out.
For more information about the North Central Sight Services, visit ncsight.org.

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