Moving forward in library service provision for people with an invisible disability
Over four million people in Australia reported having a disability in 2015. Disability has been described as the “all-inclusive minority”, occurring at any stage of the lifespan. A review of the literature indicates that disability incorporates biological, psychological, and social elements. However, when a disability is invisible, or not immediately apparent to an outsider, an individual may need to self-identify to access services, or may never be identified at all. Further, in Australia there is a very limited literature which features the voices and input of people with an invisible disability. There are also no official or widely used guidelines on library services for people with a disability, which means that each library may provide different levels of services or resources.
The study will address a literature gap on the experiences of people with an invisible disability as current, or prospective, library service users. An interpretive paradigm is proposed, utilising an exploratory mixed method design with qualitative interviews and a quantitative survey. Participants will include people with an invisible disability and public library staff. Participants will be recruited from rural, regional, urban, and remote Victoria. The two principal research questions for the proposed study are: What are the information, access, services, and resource needs of people with an invisible disability in relation to public libraries in Victoria? How do public library staff define, understand, experience, and extend library service provision with people with invisible disabilities?
I completed my Masters of Information Studies at Charles Sturt and, when the time came to do my Doctorate, Charles Sturt was the obvious choice! I moved into the library sector just over eight and half years ago after working with the federal government in rehabilitation, counselling, and employment services with people with multiple presenting issues including disability. I wanted to combine my interest in disability services, public libraries, and service provision in a supportive and engaged environment – and I wanted the opportunity to learn more from the experienced staff at Charles Sturt.