Media Use To Change Attitudes toward People with Disabilities and Knowledge of Independent Living Services


Human service providers and the public often do not understand what centers for independent living are and what services they offer.

Purpose and anticipated benefits

Media shows, such as the slide show method in this project can effectively share information about independent living issues and help shape public opinion.


Mark Mathews worked with Glen White and P. Mrdjenovich-Hanks to study and promote slide show use in this Research and Training Center for Independent Living at the University of Kansas project.



To prepare a slide presentation, staff and volunteers need to:

  • Conduct interviews to gather information for a script
  • Write a script that describes local services and concerns
  • Prepare a slide program
  • Deliver the slide presentation with help from the script
  • Arrange public speaking engagements
  • Evaluate the presentation’s impact on an audience
  • Update the presentation, if needed


When the Southeastern Minnesota Center for Independent Living (SEMCIL) made a show of 60 slides with a one-minute synchronized audiotape, it focused on its mission and philosophy, clientele, services, advocacy efforts, consumer descriptions of impact, and future goals. The message throughout the show was that people with disabilities can help others with disabilities gain control over their lives. To see how effective the show was, the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas researchers presented it to 135 individuals from 16 civic, fraternal, and human service organizations during their meetings. Of those individuals, 82 said they had regular contact with a person with disability.

Half the people were given a questionnaire about their attitudes toward people with disabilities as a group and another five-question survey about SEMCIL services before the slide show. The other half answered both sets of questions after the show.


Results showed that those first viewing the slide show had more knowledge about SEMCIL services and more positive attitudes toward people with disabilities. Being in contact with a person with a disability did not influence test scores.


Because this testing was done only once, it is not known how long the participants’ attitude and knowledge will last.


Mathews, R. M., White, G. W., & Mrdjenovich-Hanks, P. (1990). Using a slide presentation to change attitudes toward people with disabilities and knowledge of independent living services. RehabilitationCounseling Bulletin 33(4), 301-306

Mathews, R. M., White, G. W., & Mrdjenovich-Hanks, P. (1989). How to create a slide show presentation. Independent Living Conference, Bethesda, MD.

Mathews, R.M. (1989). The slide show manual. Lawrence, KS: Research and Training Center on Independent Living, University of Kansas.