Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

Characteristics of Visually Impaired Information Users in Nigeria

Academic journal article African Research & Documentation

Characteristics of Visually Impaired Information Users in Nigeria

Article excerpt

Introduction

Persons with visual impairment have been known to experience functional loss of vision or visual incapability which cannot be rectified by refractive corrections, medications or surgery (Adetoro, 2009). Visually impaired persons experience eye disorders which include retina degeneration, albinism, cataracts, glaucoma, muscular problems that result in visual disturbances, cornea disorders, diabetic retinopathy, congenital disorders and infection (Arditi and Rosenthal, 1998). They contend with visual system defects which affect their individual ability to perform activities of daily living. These conditions include partial sightedness, low vision and total blindness.

The visually impaired rely on alternative formats such as Braille, large prints and talking book or audio recordings to meet their reading needs.

In Nigeria, the population of the visually impaired is estimated at 3 million (Atinmo, 2002). Very few of these have received formal education and are capable of reading or writing Braille. The majority resort to begging on the streets as a means of livelihood (Adetoro, 2009). Those who are educated depend on the goodness of charities, non-governmental organisations, (NGOs) or philanthropists to provide them with information materials. Many are provided with information materials via libraries in schools, public libraries and institutions servicing the visually impaired in Nigeria.

Relative to the population of the visually impaired in Nigeria, those who use information materials via libraries (private or government owned) are very few. This study is therefore focused on the visually impaired who are educated and capable of using information materials in libraries. Libraries providing information materials for the visually impaired in Nigeria are public libraries, NGO libraries and libraries in educational institutions (primary, secondary and tertiary institutions).

Libraries servicing the visually impaired in Nigeria are faced with problems of meeting the high demand for information materials in alternative formats. They are perceived to have inadequate alternative formats, and obsolete facilities for the transcription and provision of information material for use. The consequence is that visually impaired people who seek information are provided with what is available and not what they want to read (Adetoro, 2009).

To put the situation of the visually impaired information users into proper perspective, it is pertinent to dig into some relevant characteristics of the visually impaired themselves. This could lead to a more realistic understanding of visually impaired people in Nigeria.

Statement of the problem

Persons with visual impairment are faced with the challenges of inclusion and the perception of society with regard to their personal characteristics, which has not been encouraging. Indeed, these perceptions have led to their exclusion from all forms of social participation including, to a great extent, the use of information in libraries.

There is need for a proper understanding of the characteristics of visually impaired people generally, and particularly of those who are capable of information use through libraries. A good knowledge of their demographic and personal characteristics will assist society to better appreciate the situation of the visually impaired and better provide information material for their use through libraries.

Objective of the study

The general objective of the study is to investigate some characteristics of the visually impaired information users through libraries in Nigeria.

The specific objectives of the study are to:

1.Find out the demographic characteristics (Age, Sex, Marital Status, Educational Qualification and Nature of Visual Impairment) of visually impaired information users via libraries in Nigeria.

2. Find out the occupation of visually impaired information users in Nigeria. …

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