Access to Library Resources by Visually Impaired Students at Institutions of Higher learning, Zimbabwe

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International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS) | Volume V, Issue VIII, August 2021 | ISSN 2454–6186

Access to Library Resources by Visually Impaired Students at Institutions of Higher learning, Zimbabwe

Trymore Museke1, Alex Sibanda2
1Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences, Library Administrative Assistant, Stair Guthrie Road P.Bag 7001 Fernhill,Mutare Zimbabwe.
2Zimbabwe Open University, Lecturer Department of Information Science and Records Management, Chinhoyi Public Service Training Centre, P.O Box 285 Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe.

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Abstract: Library patrons with special disabilities have often faced many challenges in making optimum use of the resources that are provided by academic libraries, in Zimbabwe. This study focused on the visually impaired (blind) students in particular, who have for a very long time faced challenges in accessing information in most African countries. The aim of the study was to investigate the establishment of Disability Resource Centres (DRCs) and the assistive technologies that are currently being used by visually impaired students in academic libraries in Zimbabwe. The study used the qualitative research design and survey strategy of research. The study population included (9) nine librarians and (30) thirty visually impaired (blind) students. The libraries under study included Midlands State University Library, National University of Science and Technology Library and The Dorothy Duncan Centre. The researchers decided to carry out this study at these three institutions because they are located in different regions of the country. Therefore, the results obtained from participants in these different geographic areas may vary which gives an accurate situation of the provision and use of assistive technologies in these institutions. Questionnaires, interviews and observation methods were used for data collection. The collected data was presented in form of graphs, tables, pie charts and qualitative statements which depicts responses from participants during interviews. The Social Model of Disability was used, for guiding the research. The study findings revealed that Zimbabwe is still lagging behind in terms of establishing Disability Resource Centres as well as provision of assistive technologies in these Centres. The study also established that there is inadequate assistive technologies in the few established Disability Resource Centres in Zimbabwe. Academic libraries are not receiving funding from authorities for them to be able to establish DRCs. The study recommends that, Universities in Zimbabwe ought to establish Disability Resource Centres (DRCs) as well as setting aside funds for purchasing of assistive technologies to be used by visually impaired students. In addition staff in DRCs and students with blindness or visual impairment should be trained in the use of assistive technologies for them to be able to make optimum use of the technologies. There is also need for promoting inclusivity in academic libraries in Zimbabwe, this can be achieved if university authorities, lecturers and librarians change their attitude towards disabled students.

Key words : Disability, Assistive technologies, Disability Resource Centre.

I.INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this study was to find out the extent to which Academic Libraries in Zimbabwe have established Disability Resource Centres. As well as to ascertain the various types of assistive technologies that can be used by the visually impaired (blind) patrons in Academic libraries which have Disability Resource Centres. This study aimed at contributing to theory, research, practice and policy. Thus, by identifying and analysing the existing assistive technologies being used by visually impaired (blind) students in academic libraries in Zimbabwe. The study hoped to sensitise relevant authorities such as,