This study was to examine the available adaptive technologies and the role they play in supporting PWDs in public academic libraries in Ghana. University of Cape Coast library and University of Ghana library were purposively selected for the study since these institutions were known public universities that practice inclusive education. Interview guides were used as data collection tool. A total of 20 respondents were selected and the interviews targeted 16 students with disabilities, the 2 librarians and the 2 heads of the unit in the library that catered for the needs of the students with special needs. The library environment and services were assessed considering the adaptive technologies that are present in the selected cases to support PWDs to be independent users of the library. The thematic content analysis was used in analysing the data. On the constructive side, the study revealed that the two selected cases had some form of adaptive technologies that aided PWDs to access some services in the library, there was a special unit dedicated to serving the needs of PWDs and there were dedicated staff that served their needs. Nonetheless, the adaptive technologies that were needed to access the libraries built environment as well as library services were woefully inadequate to afford the students with disabilities independent life in the library environment. Elevators and ramps were missing, computers were often faulty, alternative format of information were in most cases not available, internet connectivity were often poor, and all these together with the financial challenge faced by the libraries and the lack of formal library policy that targeted service provision for PWDs made it difficult for the libraries to serve the students with disability. In view of these recommendations to improve on the provision of adaptive technologies included: changing some of the disabling factors in the built environment like providing ramps and elevators, increasing the number of adaptive technologies like computers with all the necessary software and ensuring that the available adaptive
technologies are in a good working condition.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that over a billion people; representing about 15% of the world's population has some form of disability (WHO, 2013). Out of this number, roughly 80% live in poor and developing countries (Mensah, 2008). Oye-Lithur, Stickney and Nathan (2007) estimated that 10% of Ghana's citizens were “Persons with Disabilities” (PWDs.).
This large minority group are socially excluded as they are deprived of their basic rights to access information. All citizens should have access to information as that permit's self- development and active participation in a democratic society (Todaro, 2005). Unfortunately, this important right eludes most PWDs. Cosequently there was a need for global, regional and national legislative interventions like the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the African Charter on Human and People's Rights and among others that strived to include the rights of PWDs.
Ghana in a bid to uphold the rights of PWDs passed the Disability Act 2006 (Act 715). The section 6 of the Act urges owners or occupiers of public place to provide apt facilities that make it open and available for use by PWDs and also obliges public service providers to ensure that such services are accessible to PWDs. However, national and private information and communication service providers exempt the hearing impaired from public information access and many newspapers, books and educative materials are offered in inaccessible format to the blind. (Mensah, 2008).
Library is a collection of information materials; organised for studying, research and recreation. Eberhart, (2010) defines a library as: ” a collection of resources in a variety of formats that is organized by information professionals or other experts who provide convenient physical, digital, bibliographic, or intellectual access and offer targeted services and programs (4) with the mission of educating, informing, or entertaining a variety of audiences and the goal of stimulating individual learning and advancing society as a whole.”Environment is the setting or conditions in which a particular activity is carried on. According to Clee and Maguire, (1993) the total library environment encompass many factors like layout and distribution of stock and equipment, furniture provision, lighting and heating levels, atmosphere and decor any one of which can change a user's view of the library and all have their own impact, and being part of a cumulative effect.
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