Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is REAL?
The Resource for Equitable Access to Libraries (REAL) is an online resource designed to raise awareness and provide practical advice on how to approach and communicate with people with disabilities in a library. Key Australian disability organisations are linked to the site for people to locate more detailed authoritative information on particular types of disabilities.  This site also features an eLearning suite of six interactive modules, designed to challenge people to reflect on their own assumptions, behaviours and beliefs about serving customers with disabilities.

Who is REAL for?
REAL was designed primarily for staff who work in public libraries in Victoria. However the resource is not restricted to that audience. It is a public site which can be accessed and used by anyone anywhere world-wide. Staff in other libraries, such as university or school libraries, people working in customer service positions such as hospitality, the arts, or reception, and people in other geographic locations outside of Victoria can get as much out of the resource as Victorian public library staff. However, the content was designed with an English speaking, mostly Westernised audience in mind as advice about disability sensitivity may differ greatly in non-English, non-Western cultures. Some of this is addressed on the page about Disability and Cultural Difference.

Why is it called REAL?
A group of approximately 25 public library staff from across Victoria were consulted throughout the project via email. This group was asked what they wanted to call the resource with the stipulation that the word “disability” not be used in the title and that the title could be shortened to a catchy and memorable acronym. 30 suggestions for names were submitted from the group, which were vetted down to five through the steering committee and public libraries team. The top five were put to a vote with the email consultation group and Resource for Equitable Access to Libraries – REAL was the clear winner by a landslide. Dawn Bird, formerly of Darebin Libraries, submitted the name.

The name also works well, as a key principle of the resource is giving real advice, treating others as real people, and featuring real people in the eLearning interviews as testimonials as well as in photos on the website.

What does the logo mean?
The five multi-coloured bars, forming a hexagon was created by Andrew Chin at Squarewave, the company contracted to create the look and feel of the website. The logo represents “difference” and “universality” at the same time. The bars are all different colours and lengths (different abilities, different experiences) but they are all still bars (just as we are all still people, no matter our differences). The bars also come together to create a unified shape without losing their own distinctive shapes, suggesting the integration of individuality and community at the same time. We all come together to form our communities.

Is there a recommended age to use REAL?
REAL was developed by adults, with adults as the target audience, but there is no reason younger people cannot use it to gain information or complete the eLearning. The language and eLearning is not geared towards very young children. The eLearning focuses on self-reflection and assumes the eLearner has a degree of life experience and capacity to be introspective and self-reflective. High schoolers may benefit from using resource, but any younger than that may not be interested in this material or may lack the capacity to absorb the information at the level for which it has been designed.  As the primary target audience is Victorian public library staff, it is expected most people who use the resource will be of working age.

Who made REAL?
REAL was initiated as a joint project between the Public Libraries team of the State Library of Victoria, Vision Australia, and the Public Libraries Network of Victoria. These three collaborators had previously produced the Disability Awareness Kit in 1999, and agreed to collaborate again to transform and update the DAK into an online resource. More information about this is on the About REAL page of the website.

Who owns REAL?
The written content on the main site is creative commons licensed by all three collaborators. This information can be used by anyone with proper attribution. See the creative commons information on the website for further detail.

The photos on the website (aside from the Library pictures) and the eLearning is licensed solely to the State Library of Victoria and cannot be used or reproduced without written permission from the State Library of Victoria.

The pictures of library branches on the home page were submitted by library services which participated in the building of the resource, and are credited on each picture.

Who manages REAL?
The REAL website and eLearning are managed by the Public Libraries team at the State Library of Victoria. A part time staff member monitors the site three times a week. You can contact the administrator at

Is it free?
Yes, it is free to access the website and complete the eLearning. The eLearning does require you to create an account so your progress in the eLearning can be monitored and you can receive recognition of completion, but there is no charge.

How was the web content created?
REAL has been partially based on source material from the Disability Awareness Kit. The project coordinator has previously worked in the disability sector for over 20 years as a support worker, allied health professional, disability educator and as a disability studies academic, and thus brought a wealth of knowledge about accessibility and disability best practice to the project. The project coordinator also interviewed several people from public libraries and disability advocacy/service organisations to research topics for content. Some new content not previously addressed in the DAK was created based on these discussions. Content was tailored to address the kinds of issues and questions public library staff said they wanted guidance on.

The content was deliberately written about practical and applicable advice on customer service with a focus on how staff can alter their own behaviours and communication to create a more accessible environment. Once drafted, the content was sent to representatives from Scope, Vision Australia, Action on Disability and Ethnic Communities (ADEC), and the Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with a Disability (VALID) to review, comment, and make alterations. With the content checkers feedback and approval of the content, the final content of the website was published.

How was the eLearning created?
As part of the project scoping process, the project coordinator looked at existing kinds of eLearning for disability education, interviewed library staff about their experiences with both eLearning in general and face to face disability education, and contemporary theory about best eLearning practice. From this information, the approach to use an interactive style eLearning with branching scenarios and interviews with library staff and patrons with disabilities, was designed. The content was developed through an iterative process with public library staff and people with disabilities consulting and offering ideas and feedback for narratives and information they were interested in.

The modules were created in Articulate Storyline by the project coordinator. The Learning Management System (LMS) is Moodle 2.6.

Is the information relevant to children with disabilities and adults with disabilities?
The information provided is general and broad.  It is largely applicable to both adults and children, although the intention is not generalise people’s experience of disability. Good judgement must always be exercised when interacting with others, and advice should be considered a guideline rather than absolute instruction. As we repeatedly emphasise on the website, you should always ask the person you are serving what is the best way for you to assist them and how they prefer to be treated.

How authoritative is the information?
The content was written by, checked and approved by people with extensive experience in the disability services/education sector, including people with disabilities.

I don’t agree with some of the advice/information given. How can I trust your information?
As mentioned before, the content was written with and reviewed by people with disabilities and their advocates, and has been published with their approval.  Part of the intention of the content on the site and the eLearning is to challenge learners with information they may not have known, or think they knew but actually were incorrect or outdated in their thinking.   Some people may not realise they have limited views of what “accessible” means, or unknowingly hold stereotyped views of people with disabilities, which leads them to act in charitable but unintentionally patronising ways . We welcome differing views and encourage discussion with your peers about why you may feel that way. If REAL has made you pause and think, or review your own beliefs, then we have succeeded in our intentions to help start change the conversation about disability in our society.

What will I get out of the eLearning?
The REAL eLearning is designed to create a safe, private space for you to reflect on your own behaviour, attitudes, and assumptions related to disability. Your responses and choices are not recorded or monitored. The administrator can only see if you have attempted or completed the modules . We hope what you will get out of it is a self-assessment of your attitudes towards disability and more insight into your own reactions when faced with situations involving someone with a disability. We hope you will get new, practical ideas of what you can do at your library to make the environment more accessible. We also hope you will be engaged and interested in the eLearning itself, as it has been designed using various techniques to suit various learning styles: from game play, to listening to testimonials, to self-quizzes, and prompts to reflect on the material in your own words.

How long does it take to complete the eLearning?
It takes approximately and hour and 40 minutes to complete all six modules. At the start of each module, the length of time to complete that particular on is mentioned in the description. It may take some people more time or less time, depending on how much time each person chooses to spend in each module.

Do I have to do the eLearning in one sitting?
No. You can exit the activity at any time in a module and when you restart it, it will ask you if you want to resume where you left off. You can also log out of the system completely, come back to it days later, and still be offered a prompt to pick up where you left off.

Can I redo the eLearning again at a later date?
Yes. At this time, once you make an account and enrol, there is no time limit to your account on the eLearning site. You will be advised if this is to change at a future date.

Can I do the eLearning on an iPad?
There are known display issues between the software used and the LMS platform on tablets and mobiles. The eLearning has been designed for a target audience that mostly uses desktops and laptops in their work. You can use a tablet but you may encounter display issues, depending on the kind of device and browser you use. We are currently exploring Moodle apps to see if we can further optimise the learning for tablet computers. The eLearning is not intended to be completed on a mobile phone.

The REAL main website has been created with a responsive design and should display properly on any mobile device.

Is the website and eLearning accessible for people with disabilities?
Yes. The REAL main website was designed using WCAG AA standards. It has been colour contrast checked, and has been reviewed by people who use screen reading software.

The REAL eLearning modules are HTML5 enabled, and their features have been optimised for screen reader use. All video content has all been closed captioned with transcripts. There is also an alternate HTML text only site containing the same eLearning content as the multi-media modules. The eLearning and HTML have also been reviewed by individuals who use screen readers.

I have to create an account. Are my details safe?
Yes. Your details will remain in the Moodle system. If your library service has committed to its staff completing the eLearning, your email will only be used to contact you to either notify you of the status of your completion, or to send you a certificate of completion after you finish the eLearning.

I’m not a staff member of a Victorian library service. Can I still get a certificate if I complete the eLearning?
Yes, you can. Just email to notify the administrator you wish for your completion to be formally recognised, and they will email you a certificate when you complete the modules. You can notify them before you start the eLearning, during, or after you finish. The administrator will be able to see your account and completion status in the Moodle LMS and be able to verify when you have completed the suite of modules.

How often it is REAL updated?
As of this writing, this REAL website and eLearning content are established and static. There is no intention to alter the existing information at any time in the near future.  There may be capacity in the future to expand the information on the website under new topics, or to create new eLearning modules based on other topics. This expansion will be contingent on interest and the availability of resources to develop and implement new content.

How do I report an error or give feedback?
Email the REAL administrator at

Can I use REAL for training my staff?
Yes, anyone can access the REAL website and eLearning for free.

Can I use REAL in a commercial training package?
No. Information on the REAL can be freely shared and replicated under creative commons with proper attribution to the three collaborators (State Library of Victoria, Vision Australia, and the Public Libraries Victorian Network). It cannot be used for commercial purposes or distributed in a modified form. See the Creative Commons licensing information on the REAL website (linked via the CC logo in the footer).

The REAL eLearning is licensed exclusively to the State Library of Victoria. It cannot be copied, redistributed or used for commercial purposes. People wishing to use the eLearning must do so thought the REAL eLearning site.