Accessibility and provision of digital library resources to the visually impaired students in academic libraries: A case study of University of Oslo Library


Publication date



Oslo University College of Applied Sciences

Document type


Joint Master Degree in Digital Library Learning (DILL)


The study explored the accessibility and provision of digital library resources to the visually impaired (VI) students in academic libraries, and it used the library of university of Oslo as a case institution. This study sought to gather data about the visually impaired students‟ experiences in accessing digital library resources on the one hand, while on the other, the library staff‟s experiences in serving these students. By gathering data directly from real users (students) of the digital library resources / services, and the facilitators (library staff), the study intended to contribute to an understanding of, and help inform improved service delivery in this area. The study sample comprised six (6) respondents. Four (4) visually impaired students (one PhD and three Master‟s programme students). These were considered to have experience of using digital library resources during the period of doing course requirements including examinations and also during the time of conducting research and writing their theses. Two (2) library staff of the University of Oslo were also part of the sample. One was directly involved in serving the visually impaired students while the other works in the department of providing digital library services. Student respondents were selected by use of snowball sampling technique while the library staff were purposively selected. The study employed a qualitative research design, and data was collected by use of in-depth interviews. The study was premised in the models of disability - medical and social model but much emphasis was put on the social model which seemed more relevant in explaining the phenomenon under study. Findings indicate that the visually impaired students largely depend on intermediaries like library staff, fellow students, friends, and reading assistants to access the digital library resources. However, findings indicate that majority of the student respondents are not satisfied with the assistance from intermediaries especially the library staff, although some of the respondents expressed some appreciation of the assistance they receive from these intermediaries. Furthermore, because the university does not adequately guarantee full access to the digital resources, it was found out that the visually impaired students seek for study literature and digital resources from other alternative sources notably, the Norwegian Library for talking books and Braille (NLB), Google scholar and Huseby resource center. The study findings however, indicate that these alternative sources do not also meet most of the information needs of the visually impaired students. Nevertheless, the study findings indicate benefits the visually impaired students have gained from accessing the digital library resources. Findings also indicate various challenges/obstacles faced by the visually impaired students to access digital library services as well as challenges faced by the library staff to provide digital library services to the visually impaired students. Obstacles identified include; the design of the library interface, document format delivery, administrative challenge, lack of competence, inadequate library facilities and staff services, work overload, among others, By looking into the highlighted obstacles faced by both students the situation of the VI will likely to be improved.




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