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Towards A User Friendly Library for Students with Disabilities: Opportunities and Challenges at Teachers’ Colleges in Zimbabwe
This study sought to explore the usability of library facilities to students with disabilities at Zimbabwe’s teacher education colleges. The study intended to find ways of establishing user friendly libraries at these institutions. The study focused on one of the thirteen national teacher education colleges in Zimbabwe, that is, United College of Education (UCE). A qualitative research design in the form of a case study was adopted where the use of semi-structured questionnaires and interview guides enabled the researchers to gather views of the participants about the phenomenon under study. The purposive sampling technique was used to target the library staff and the students with disabilities as the information-rich participants for the study. The entire studied sample was 30 participants. Some of the critical findings included lack of adequate infrastructural and physical development to promote a user friendly library for students with disabilities, lack of expertise within the library staff and inadequate computer software for students with disabilities. Negative attitudes by some of the library staff members and fellow non-disabled students towards students with disabilities also threaten the user-friendliness of the library. It is therefore recommended that periodical staff development sessions for the library staff be conducted. The study also recommends for the college’s administration to consider the refurbishment of the library’s infrastructure and information system in its strategic plans. A reserve section in the library for students with disabilities will also be a progressive move.