Objectives: As an under-served population, the functionally diverse often struggle to get assistance that takes their needs into account. The Research Services for People with Disabilities Pilot Project sought to improve services via training of reference specialists in order to more holistically assist patrons with disabilities (the functionally diverse) and engaging in an ongoing dialogue with users to further refine services.
Methods: A previous project that interviewed patrons with different kinds of disabilities indicated the need for more focused assistance. Once the need for a more robust assistance model was defined, the pilot project took shape. We began by exploring the policies of other institutions, identifying current gaps in services and training, and conversing with disability access specialists about the needs of current students, faculty, and staff. Next, we engaged in reflection about the project: lessons learned and impact.
Results: The project has had very mixed results - some of it positive and some of it negative. Regardless, it's been a learning experience in what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong.
Conclusion: The project is transitioning and broadening into a more sustainable and ongoing model which includes continued use of the program as a test bed for ideas as well as a cycle of reflection and growth.
Keywords: disability, pilot project, reference, user services, training, interviews, accessibility
Assistant Professor and Applied Health Sciences Librarian
Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library at UIUC
JJ Pionke, MA, MSI is the Applied Health Sciences Librarian and Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on disability in the library.
Tuesday, May 30
3:35 PM – 3:50 PM
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