Equity of Access to Information: A Comparative Exploration of Library Accessibility and Information Access From Differently-Able Patrons' Perspectives
Date of Award
Campus Access Dissertation
School of Library and information Science
Samantha K Hastings
The government and information agencies designed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and statements of Intellectual Freedom to help ensure the inalienable right to access information. While these documents were not designed with physical access in mind, they establish the principle of equity of access to information, an imperative factor for all library patrons, and especially for diverse patrons and patrons who are differently-able or have disabilities.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the 1980s "Decade of the Disabled," and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 stimulated increased awareness regarding rights of patrons who are differently-able for improved access to education, employment, and information (United Nations, 1982). While diversity remains a critical focus for libraries, many remain inaccessible for their patrons who are differently-able (Murray, 2000, 2001; Wojahn, 2006). In recent years, few studies have investigated how accessibility, physical and virtual or digital, might be improved.
Published research studies investigating library accessibility and services from the perspectives of people who are differently-able are virtually non-existent. This study conducted a multi-dimensional investigation of library accessibility and services. A mixed-methods approach utilizing a nationally distributed survey and in-depth qualitative inquiry, offered comparative analyses of library accessibility for library patrons who self-identify as being differently-able or as having a disability and those who are typically-able or who do not self-identify as having a disability. Study methods offered analysis for fit to the problem of equity of access to information, an issue that with differently-able populations through distinct, observable, and measurable manifestations. Findings indicated statistically significant differences in library accessibility and information access between patrons who self-identify as being differently-able and those who identify as being typically-able. Findings further that social constructions directly influence library and information access.
Copeland, C. A.(2012). Equity of Access to Information: A Comparative Exploration of Library Accessibility and Information Access From Differently-Able Patrons' Perspectives. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/1519