REAL – Resource for Equitable Access to Libraries eLearning

Copyright State Library of Victoria 2014

The REAL eLearning modules are published in Flash. This is an accessible text only version of the module content for people who cannot access Flash. This module contains a branching scenario in which you choose the outcome of the story.

After each scene you will be presented with options for what to do next. Click on the hyperlink make a selection for the next action in the story.Please note this is not a linear story and it will only make sense by using the hyperlinks to navigate thought it.

To help or not to help module

Scene One.

It is daytime in the public library. A middle aged man approaches a self check out machine with three DVD’s. He stares at the computer screen blankly for a few seconds, then swipes his library card in the machine. He presses a few commands on the computer screen but nothing happens. He looks confused. Another person approaches an opposite self check out machine. She quickly and effortlessly checks out her book while the middle aged man tries to watch her and see what she is doing. She leaves, and the middle aged man picks up his DVDs and moves to the machine the woman just used. He swipes his membership card again, and stares at the computer screen. He starts to hesitantly press some commands. The librarian at the desk notices the man at the self check out machine.


Offer Assistance to the patron

Wait for the patron to ask for help

Please make a choice from above.

Scene Two.

The man continues to try and make the machine work, but nothing is happening. He looks very confused. The man looks at his DVD’s, then the machine, and sighs. He puts the DVD’s down, leaving them behind as he quickly leaves the library frustrated.

Hmm, not a happy ending! How will this experience affect how he feels about the library? Will he come back again? Could a different decision have a different outcome?


Try again!

Advice from co-worker Lee

Advice from co-worker Paul

Please make a choice from above.

Scene Three.

Jane, the librarian, approaches the man and says, “Hi sir, how are you going? I’m Jane, I work here. I was just wondering if you needed a hand with our machines at all?”

The man replies, “ No I’m okay thanks.”

“Okay you sure? Because I can show you,” Jane offers.

The man waves her off. “Yeah I just want to be sure that I’m sure that I’ve got it right, that’s all. Thanks,” he says.

“No worries, “replies Jane.


Allow him to figure it out

Offer to demonstrate the machine

Suggest the machine may not be working

Please make a choice from above.

Scene Four.

Jane offers her help again. “ Look, “ she says, “it will only take me a moment to demonstrate it if you like”

The man becomes irritated and puts his hands up to wave her away. “ Look I’ll be okay. Thanks, “ states firmly

Jane, taken aback, retreats. “Okay, sorry just trying to help,” she says meekly before leaving him alone.


Allow him to figure it out

Consult a colleague

Please make a choice from above.

Scene Five.

Jane decides to take a different approach to and focus on the self check out machine instead if the man’s ability to operate it.

“Sir we’ve actually been experiencing quite a few difficulties with these machines,” she tells him. “Would you mind if I just grabbed your membership card and see if it’s just the computer?”

The man agrees. “Okay,” hre replies as he hands her his card.

Jane starts to operate the checkout machine, making sure she slowly demonstrates the functions of the machine for him to watch her actions. . “Excellent, okay. Okay let’s just see, swipe it, it’ll start then we’ll just swipe the card,” she says as she swipes the card. The screen shows the next functions. “”Excellent, that’s gone through,”” Janes says, looking over his borrowing record. “Okay you’ve got some other items on loan, but that’s okay. Just pop those DVDs up there, “ she says as she indicates the scanner. The man places his DVD’s on the scanner””

“We’ll just borrow, “ comments Jane as she pushes the borrow fuction. They observe the scanner results. “Aall scanning’s working so that’s great, “ she comments. “ We’ll just press next. Okay, would you like a receipt?”

“Yes please”, the man replies>

Jane pushes the print receipt function.” We’ll just print this receipt out. There’s your card, excellent.” She hands the card and DVDs to the man.

“Alrighty, well you enjoy those DVDs. Have a lovely day.

“Thank you””, the man replies. “ I thought it was the machine. Bye, bye.”

Title Card: Success! Jane was able to show the customer how the machine worked without embarrassing him - she focused on the machine, taking the focus off him personally.


Scene Six.

Jane feels there is some reason the man is having difficulty with the machine that she cannot detech. She approaches one of her co-workers.

“Hey Paul, I was just wondering if could help me. There’s a guy that’s been at the checkout for ages; I’ve tried to help him. He doesn’t seem to want my help and I just don’t know what to do.”

Paul glances over at the man and reassures Jane, “ Sure let me take care of it.”

“Thank you,” says Jane.

Paul approaches the man and decides to use a diversion tactic to take the focus off the man’s ability but still allow him to complete his check out.

“Good day mate, “ Paul greets the man while he looks over the self check out machine. “It’s been playing up a little bit recently. Would you like me to check you out at the counter?”

The man pauses then accepts, “Yeah okay.”

“Perfect,” replies Paul.

The man points at the machine, “I think it’s faulty.”

Paul smiles and point the way to the counter. “Follow me.” Together, they head for the circulation desk.

Title Card: Sometimes using a different approach, even using a different staff member is a good way to assist a customer.

However, the customer really wanted to figure how to use the machine by himself, but seems reluctant to ask for or accept help. Why do you think that is?

Could a different decision have a different outcome?


Try again!

Advice from co-worker Lee

Please make a choice from above.

Scene Seven.

Advice from Paul: Sometimes it can be a little bit confusing when you offer your assistance and the person doesn’t need it. But it’s not to worry; just make sure you’re attentive and receptive to their needs and their body language. Make sure you’re in the area and always be there and available for them when they need your help.


Scene Eight.

So we get all different types of people coming in here, so what I suggest that you do is maybe try and approach them a different way to find out how you can help them because sometimes people have a hidden disability that we don’t know about or an undiagnosed disability, or just they’ve left their glasses at home and perhaps are too proud to tell us that. So we need to approach them in a way that they can relate to us and we can help them.



- Why might the customer be having difficulty with the self-check out machine?

Take a moment to think or write your reply before reading on.

Some suggested reasons (though not exhaustive)

may not know how the machine works/low computer literacy
low reading literacy
cognitive difficulties
low vision
difficulties following a sequence of written instructions

- What are some ideas for how the self-check out can be made more accessible to assist a customer with a disability?

Take a moment to think or write your reply before reading on.

Some suggested responses (though not exhaustive)

learning disabilities (e.g. dyslexia, visual processing disorder)
acquired brain injury
intellectual/developmental disability
low vision
mental illness
chronic fatigue syndrome
multiple sclerosis
attention deficit disorder

- What are some ideas for how the self-check out can be made more accessible to assist a customer with a disability?

Take a moment to think or write your reply before reading on.

Some ideas (though not exhaustive)

have audio instructions
have picture illustrated instructions
use colour coding of functions and buttons on the screen
have a video tutorial/demonstration available on the screen
have instructions available on printed handouts in a range of formats

Hopefully, this scenario has challenged some assumptions you may make about customers when you see them in your library. We can't always immediately see the reason or cause of someone's behaviour,But we can be flexible in our approach to them, as well as consider multiple points of view to make our services more accessible.

End Module