LEGO Homeschoolers Prepare for Tournament

By Mindstorms Mayhem
The Cabinet - December 9, 2004

Did you know that your local library has a lot of technology and equipment to help you even if you have a disability? Many local libraries have a large collections of interesting large print books and magazines, as well as books on tape and CD.

The Wadleigh Memorial Library in Milford has computer programs like JAWS® for Windows which provides speech technology that works with the Windows operating system to access popular software applications, the Internet and e-mail.

Tourney Saturday

The FIRST LEGO League state tournament is this Saturday, Dec. 11 at Nashua North High School, 8:30a.m.-5:30p.m. About 48 qualifying teams from across the state will be competing, including Mindstorms Mayhem.

Another program, MAGic, helps those with low vision view information on their computer screen with magnification up to 16x, while hearing it through their speech synthesizer. There will be instructions available for both of these programs. A book magnifier is available for visually impaired patrons. It magnifies the text on any printed material.

The Wadleigh Memorial Library also has Walkmans for in-house use. These are accessible to the public, including the blind or visually impared. If used, the patrons can listen to audio books in the library. These Walkmans are available by inquiry at the front desk.

Another resource, the Talking Book Library, is a federally-funded program that lends a wide variety of books and magazines, recorded by professional actors. Most of these are produced by the Library of Congress. A full catalog is available on-line. Librarians can assist eligible patrons (those who are physically unable to see, handle or process printed material comfortably) to fill out an application.

Other libraries, such as the Nashua Public Library, have other assistive technology, like the Aladdin Ambassador Book Reader. It assists the blind or visually impaired patrons by reading aloud to them. It uses character recognition when it scans a book and can keep the text in its memory for a long time. Because of this special technology, the Ambassador could read a book to you that was scanned days ago. The Nashua Public Library also possesses JAWS and MAGic.

The majority of local libraries have ramps, elevators, automatic doors, accessible water fountains, bathrooms and walkways. Some libraries have specialized keyboards that can be borrowed to assist people with shaky hands or paralysis. Stools and helpful librarians are available to assist in reaching a book.

Everyone should be able to use their local library because the library is an important source of information and enjoyment. Libraries have books, public Internet access, tapes and CDs, DVDs and videos, magazines, computers, museum passes, and other resources available for loan.

This information was compiled by Mindstorms Mayhem, a FIRST LEGO League Robotics team of homeschoolers from Milford, Wilton, Merrimack, Hollis, Lyndeborough, and Bedford. The students are ages 10-14 and include Katie and Nicholas Hammes, Milford; Melissa Gray, Milford; Victoria and Dan Umenhofer, Wilton; Amelia Jennings, Merrimack; Jean-Marc LeDoux; Hollis; David Schunemann, Hollis; Ryan Simard, Lyndeborough; Nathan Streeter, Bedford. Coaches are Bill Gray, Milford and Ken Streeter, Bedford. Mentors are Christopher Jennings, Merrimack; Nathan Gray, Milford; Ben Streeter, Bedford.

In researching for this years challenge, "No Limits," the team learned a lot about thier local libraries and people with disabilities. They would like to encourage people with disabilities to "check out" their library and see what's new. For more information: or