Analyzing Service Divide in Academic Libraries for Better Serving Disabled Patrons Using Assistive Technologies

Devendra Potnis, Kevin Mallary

Abstract

Academic libraries invest thousands of dollars in assistive technologies (AT) for enhancing the delivery of information services to disabled patrons. However, offering AT might not result in their use by the patrons who need them, thereby leading to a service divide. The analysis of qualitative responses, including more than 1,400 quotations, elicited from academic library administrators and librarians in 186 public universities across the United States, reveals that academic libraries encounter 51 challenges related to the knowledge and skills of librarians, hardware and software concerns, institutional factors, finances, and external actors, when serving disabled patrons with AT. Finally, the researchers propose 15 solutions for bridging this service divide.

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