Deterrent libraries: Denying persons with disability
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which aims at the eradication of poverty by 2030 has as its fourth goal the need to ensure inclusive and equitable education for all. Nonetheless, less than two per cent of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Ghana are able to attain higher education. The purpose of this study was to ascertain whether libraries, which are major components of Higher Education Institutions, are physically accessible to even the limited number of PWDs in such Institutions. This study was undertaken in 2015 using the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi (KNUST) in Ghana as a case study. A mixed method approach was used that involved a desk study, interviews and a physical audit of the KNUST Library System using a checklist developed from international accessibility standards. In all, 16 libraries were assessed. The study concluded that the libraries at KNUST were generally not physically accessible and this served as a deterrent to PWDs in their academic pursuits. Recommendations which include the need for retrofitting the libraries were made to help make the libraries accessible and in consequence help toward the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with respect to Ghana.
Keywords: Accessibility; Higher Education Institutions; Libraries; Persons with disabilities (PWDs); Universal design principles