April 20, 2024

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Librarian Decries Lack of Inclusion for Visually Impaired

By Daniel Kelechi and Ayomide Adegboro

Professor Yetunde Zaid, The University of Lagos Librarian

The University of Lagos (UNILAG) Librarian, Professor Yetunde Zaid, CLN, has lamented the non-inclusion of the visually impaired in having access to University learning materials.

Zaid stated this on Wednesday, 14 February, 2024 while delivering her inaugural lecture themed, “What is Good For The Goose is Good For The Gander”.

Zaid, who is the first Professor of Library and Information Science in UNILAG, spoke vehemently on the need to create and implement policies that will ensure that students living with disability especially the visually impaired are not denied of the necessary knowledge which accrued to them from making use of the University library.

“From my viewpoint, the literary expression of ‘what is good for the goose is good for the gander’ connotes the fact that the library should be more proactive and deliberate about making its facilities, collections and services more equitable, accessible and inclusive for people living with any form of disability”, Zaid said.

Speaking on the rationale behind delivering such an inspiring topic that advocates for inclusivity for the disabled, she said that she has participated in a series of international training on library and information management so the experiences she has garnered in those trainings inspired the lecture.

She also noted that having been appointed as the Librarian of UNILAG, her quest for inclusion of the disabled in the use of the library grew in neeps and bounds.

“It is because of my experience and professional interaction with students with disabilities. I discovered that they’re marginalised and they’re not maximising all the facilities on campus because society has created hindrances that’ll not allow them to have equitable access like the sighted students”, the Prof said.

She went ahead to make recommendations that universities should have offices of disability services and schools should create inclusive policies.

She added that the school should ensure that from the library school, services for persons with disability are taken by students as a course.

The Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, UNILAG, Prof. Adelaja Odukoya, under whose faculty the lecturer emerged commended the Librarian for her wonderful lecture. “We’re proud of her and the inaugural lecture, particularly her contributions to the development of UNILAG library”, Odukoya said.

He also spoke about the new department of Library and Information Science and what should be expected from the department which is under his faculty. “It can only get better with the quality of staff that we have and with people like her (the Librarian) and the commitment of the university administration to this inclusive agenda and knowing that what is good for the goose is good for the gander, we can only hope for the best and I’m sure that the university is up to it and this is a major challenge for the government and policymakers to make hay while the sun shines because there are a lot to be done”, he said.

The President of the Nigerian National Association of Visually Impaired Students, Felix Ayotope who is also a 500-level student of Law, UNILAG, said, “I am so grateful to God that I attended University of Lagos and I can say as a fact that UNILAG is a pioneer in terms of technology, inclusion of People With Disabilities in general as far as Nigeria and West African Countries are concerned”.

UNILAG Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Folasade Tolulope Ogunsola thanked the lecturer for her unwavering commitment towards the improvement of the university library and for always advocating for the inclusion of the visually impaired in particular. She also appreciated the Managing Director of Alpha Morgan Capital, Ade Buraimo for coming for the lecture and also for his unwavering support and funding of the renovation of the university’s library.

Prof. Yetunde was appointed as the Librarian of UNILAG in 2019. She holds a Masters and PhD in Library Science from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. She has over 19 years of professional practice of managing information services to both students and faculty at the University of Lagos. She is a Fulbright Scholar. She won the African Research Fulbright Scholar program and completed the nine months fellowship at the James S. Coleman Africa Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles in May 2017. She is a member of various professional bodies and currently the Secretary of the Lagos Studies Association, an interdisciplinary and international association of academic and non-academic. Her research interests include information service structures, Public services, information literacy, and knowledge management.

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