n Mousaion - 'I don't want to be carried like luggage' : disability and physical access to Tanzanian academic libraries

Volume 33, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



This article reports on an empirical study which investigated access for people in wheelchairs and/or with visual impairments to Tanzanian academic libraries. A pragmatism paradigm and Oliver's (1990) social model of disability were employed as well as the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). Using quantitative and qualitative methods, questionnaires, interview schedules and an observation checklist were used to collect data. The study sample from the libraries of five Tanzanian higher education institutions (HEIs) totalled 196 respondents. The respondents were library directors, other professional library and disability unit staff, Ministry of Education's Special Needs Unit staff, and people in wheelchairs and/or with visual impairments. The study found that there were no functioning lifts and/or ramps in the academic libraries studied which could have enabled these users to reach the upper floors where the information resources or services were located. For academic libraries to provide services which are inclusive, as well as certain special services for users with disabilities, various guidelines need to be implemented. Examples include library buildings having working lifts and/or ramps, and signage and location devices appropriate for people with visual impairments. The study findings could be used to improve physical access to these academic libraries.

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