Access to Information Resource and Opportunities for Social In inclusiveness: Perceptions of Visually Impaired Students of Higher Education Institutions in Lagos, Nigeria
The challenges of access to educational resources (including print information resource, and learning materials) and the problems of social inclusion facing visually impaired students are well documented. The aim of this study is to explore the scope of such challenges among visually impaired students from their perspectives in order to grasp an in-depth understanding of how visually impaired students experience education. This study employed a qualitative research approach; interviewing 20 visually impaired students who attended higher education institutions and were present at a workshop organised for blind and partially sighted individuals. The students were aged between 19 and 45. Their visual impairment conditions ranged from partial sight to total blindness. They were interviewed using unstructured open-ended questions exploring their perceptions of information access as well as inclusion. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and a thematic analysis conducted using Nvivo (version 12). The four main themes that emerged included: Access to lecture notes, Access to published books and print materials, having a sense of inclusion, and possible solutions. Results showed that the participants generally felt that strategies and interventions for access to information have not been carefully considered. A negative cycle of exclusion was also identified based on discrepancies with access to opportunities appertaining to them and to their sighted peers. Recommendations to tackle the negative feelings of social exclusion, as well as challenges to equal access to information and educational resources, are discussed.