The provision of archival reference services to persons with disabilities at Botswana National Archives and Records Services
Jenkins, Mmamfi Bess
PublisherUniversity of Botswana, www.ub.bw
MetadataShow full item record
Principle No.5 of the International Council on Archives states that archives should be available to all users on equal and fair terms (ICA,2012:9). Hence this study sought to assess the provision of archival reference services to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) at Botswana National Archives and Records Services (BNARS), with the aim of determining BNARS preparedness in meeting the needs of PWDs in accessing archival reference services. The study was guided by pragmatism paradigm which allowed the use of mixed methods as a way of triangulating findings from other methods with the other method. The study sample comprised thirteen purposefully selected respondents from BNARSthat included the Deputy Director, the Principal Archivist, Archivists and Records Management Officers, who are directlyinvolved with the provision of archival reference services, and eight persons with disability, who were referred by others through snowballing method. Data for the study was collected through the use of questionnaires, interviews and an observation checklist based on theInternational Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Access to Libraries for Persons with Disabilities Checklist. The findings of the study indicate that, despite the existence of legal instruments both locally and internationally, which speak against discrimination of PWDs, the current legal and policy framework in use at BNARS does not explicitly address how the needs of PWDsin archival reference services can be met. Secondly, in terms of the type of services offered to PWDs, the findings from the study revealed that BNARS does not fully accommodate the needs of PWDs in terms of the physical layout of the building and the lack of specialised material such as Braille. The findings further revealed that while BNARS staff is trained in the provision of archival reference services, none of them has been trained specifically in the provision of reference services to PWDs. The key recommendations arising from the study include the need to lobby for the amendment of the NARS‟s Act to accommodate provision of archival services to PWDs and involvement of PWDs in policy formulation, through liaising with different organisations which deal with disability issues, such as Botswana Council for the Disabled and Botswana Federation of the Disabled, ensuring that the physical layout of the archives reading rooms and the format of archival records are accommodative of PWDs. Finally, the study recommends the training of archival reference staff on how to service PWDs.