Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Information Literacy Skills, Alternative Format Availability and Information Sources Utilization by Visually Impaired Secondary School Students in South-West, Nigeria

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Information Literacy Skills, Alternative Format Availability and Information Sources Utilization by Visually Impaired Secondary School Students in South-West, Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

Information plays an indispensable role in the survival of an individual in the society irrespective of status. In that regards, equality in information sources provision is required to meet the needs of the visually impaired users of information since they constitute an integral part of every society. Visual Impaired refers to someone who is blind or partially sighted (NHS, 2006). According to Kirk, Gallagher & Anastasiow (2006), visual impairment is regarded as a disability that falls along a continuum ranging from near normal vision to profound visual impairments (blindness). Obani (2002) defines visual impairment as a collective term describing an aggregation of various forms and varying degrees of visual handicaps, visual dysfunction and vision loss, which range from slight visual and refractive errors, defect in colour blindness, partial sightedness, and low vision to blindness. The Royal National Institute for the Blind (2002) describes persons with visual impairment as people with irretrievable loss of sight. Arditi and Rosenthal (1998) added that persons with visual impairment include persons with partial sightedness, low vision and total blindness.

The World Health Organization WHO (2009) estimates that there are 314 million people worldwide who are visually impaired. Of these, 45 million are blind, of whom 90% live in low-income countries. These figures were justified by Veal & Maj, (2010) who also points out that "globally there are over 314 million visually impaired people: 45 million of them are totally blind". Visual impairment is a worldwide disability problem, which has been seen as a "global public health problem". Various researchers in Nigeria had reported blindness prevalence rates of between 0.9 and 1.3% (Adeoye, 1996; Gilbert, 2001; Gilbert & Foster, 2001; Rabiu, 2001; Farber, 2003) in different regions of the country.

The students with visual impairment are characterized with inability to use traditional print materials and as such they are forced to locate alternative means of accessing academic information. A study on the use of alternative formats by Canadian college students with print disabilities (Anne, 2000) revealed that 56% of the students use tape recording frequently, 31% use large prints and 19% use braille frequently. Taped books were the most popular for students. There has always been a small but important demand for braille by borrower or buyers from other agencies (National Library of Canada, 1996). Gatz (2003) envisaged that majority of users of talking books, are visually impaired people who generally have no other way to read unless they read braille; even though not many people do read braille. Adetoro (2009) posits that persons with visual impairment just like the sighted need to acquire information, but such information will only be useful when they come in alternative formats or reading materials that have been converted into useful formats for those with print disabilities. Nielsen and Irvall (2005) declare that students with disabilities must have equitable access to the library and its facilities. To this end, Suamure and Given (2004) were of the view that blind and partially sighted post-secondary students must access the materials that they need for their studies in the context of their disability. Pansida (1991) in his survey on the condition in Thailand reported that most textbooks in braille and other formats are produced for primary and secondary schools according to the curriculum of the Mini stry of Educati on.

Libraries and librarians provide access to essential information that people need to participate in the emerging information society. Therefore, they have a moral obligation to make information available to all categories of users regardless of their gender, age, race, political affiliation or disability. Such inclusive, non discriminatory service however still remains the ideal rather than the norm as some people remain underserved in terms of access to information (Babalola and Haliso, 2011). …

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