Blind User Experiences of US Academic Libraries can be Improved by More Proactive Reference Service Delivery
A Review of:
Mulliken, A. (2017). There is nothing inherently mysterious about assistive technology: A qualitative study about blind user experiences in US academic libraries. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 57(2), 115-126. https://doi.org/10.5860/rusq.57.2.6528
Objective – To explore blind users’ experiences with academic libraries.
Design – Qualitative questionnaire.
Setting – Academic libraries within the United States of America.
Subjects – 18 individuals who are legally blind, have experience relying on a screen reader to access the internet, and have used an academic library either online or in person within the previous two years.
Methods – An open-ended questionnaire was administered via telephone interview. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and analysed using an inductive approach to identify themes using Hill et al.’s (2005) approach.
Main Results – The author found seven themes in the interview data: experiences working with reference librarians in person, difficulty with library websites, screen reader use during reference transactions, preferences for independence, using chat, interactions with disability officers, and challenges of working with citation styles.
Conclusion – The study concluded that academic libraries and librarians should be more proactive when approaching reference services for blind users. The author offered suggestions for practice about how to improve blind user experiences of academic libraries.
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