The information needs and information seeking behaviours of persons with blindness and visual impairment in Lusaka, Zambia
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This study was carried out to examine the information needs and information seeking behaviors of persons with blindness and visual impairment in Lusaka, Zambia. The study looked at the kinds of information persons with blindness and visual impairment require in their daily lives, the formats in which they access information, sources of information preferred, the barriers to information use and access faced when seeking information. This study was both qualitative and quantitative in nature. 50 persons with blindness and visual impairment conveniently selected participated in the study. Semi-structured interviews were used to gather primary data. Results from the field reveal that persons with blindness and visual impairment have information needs similar to those people who live normal lives ranging from health (80%), education (70%), income (74%), agriculture (30%), finance (40%), recreation (18%), government (80%) and legal (36%). The study also reveals that the blind and VIP have additional information needs (12%) that are specific to them as blind and VIP and these include information on their position as disabled people, rights and entitlements, political consciousness and coping with life situations i.e. information about their condition, the aids, equipment and services that are available, as well as self-help groups. Persons with blindness and visual impairment in this study access information in oral (40%) as well as in other formats such as audio cassettes (30%), print (20%) and electronic (10%). The results further reveal that the sources of information for persons with blindness and visual impairment include family members (40%), mass media (16%), friends (30%), Internet (4%) and libraries and information centers (10%). The main barriers persons with blindness and visual impairment face to access and use information include lack of skills (76%), distance (72%), illiteracy (70%), lack of assistance from the community to get the needed information (64%), discrimination (62%), cost (58%), inadequate libraries & information centers with suitable facilities (52%), inadequate equipment (30%) and age (20%). The study recommends for enactment of a policy to address the educational needs of persons with blindness and visual impairment in terms of information infrastructure, expertise and equipments. Also recommended in the study is the need for library and information centers to design and develop accessible facilities and provide inclusive information services.
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