Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Provision of Library Services for Users in Wheelchairs at Ardhi University and University of Dar Es Salaam Libraries

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Provision of Library Services for Users in Wheelchairs at Ardhi University and University of Dar Es Salaam Libraries

Article excerpt

Introduction

Access to information is one of fundamental human rights which is incorporated in the freedom of expressions in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR). Library as one of institutions responsible for acquisition, processing and dissemination of information are supposed to provide its services to patrons without any form of discrimination. Information is vital to all human beings regardless of their religion, race, nationality, tribe, and age (Majinge and Stilwell, 2013). This also includes providing information to people with disabilities. Provision of information to persons with disabilities is further emphasized by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that came into play in 2015 after the completion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In 2015, countries adopted the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development together with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations, 2017). Goal number 4 is about ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning and its 8th target is to "build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all" (United Nations, 2017).

Phukubje and Ngoepe (2017) noted that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) of 2006 is one of the legally binding instruments that address the rights of persons with disabilities to inclusive education. In this convention, article 24 focused on access of persons with disabilities to the general education system and aimed at eliminating disability based discrimination in educational settings together with providing inclusive education at all levels. The United Republic of Tanzania has two major Laws on disability. The Persons with Disabilities (Rights and Privileges) Act Number 9 of 2006 of Zanzibar and the Persons with Disabilities Act Number 9 of 2010 of Tanzania mainland. Both laws give emphasis to accessibility of persons with disabilities to buildings and information as a basic requirement. Employers and owners of institutions and schools should take into account the special needs of persons with disabilities.

Accessibility of library services to students and library users with disabilities cannot be overstressed. Provision of library services for students and other users with disabilities is an ever-increasing phenomenon speeded up by innovative community as well as the day to day advances of new technologies. Information professionals are supposed to have moral responsibility by making sure that information resources in their libraries are available to all patrons regardless of their disability, age and gender (Eskay and Chima, 2013). In the similar vein, Majinge and Stillwell (2013) insisted that libraries should not offer discriminatory services against patrons on grounds of disability and should make sure that every patron has equal access to library information materials. However, according to personal experience, services that are not discriminatory still remains an ideal rather than the norm to some of libraries as some patrons with disabilities are still underserved in terms of access to library information resources. Environmental, physical, legal and institutional barriers are some of the factors that limit people with disabilities from social inclusion and these together with negative attitudes are the hardest to overcome. In order for people with disabilities to receive equal treatment these barriers and factors need to be removed and this should go hand in hand with a change in attitudes.

Objectives of the Study

The general purpose of the study was to examine the provision of access to information to persons with disabilities particularly those in wheelchairs in Ardhi University and University of Dar es Salaam Libraries.

The specific objectives were;

1. To identify the services offered to students with disabilities at the two identified universities in Tanzania;

2. …

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