Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Joseph, Rigaud


The present study explored common themes and barriers associated with mental health service utilization among people with sensory impairments. The ultimate goal is to promote social workers’ preparedness to serve individuals with sensory disabilities. This study is significant considering that (1) a large proportion of people with sensory disabilities do not receive mental health services and (2) there is a paucity of studies within the field of social work that examine barriers to mental health services for the aforementioned population. In this qualitative study, the researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with 14 professional social workers (N =14) who have direct experience with sensory challenged individuals. Among the major themes that emerged for the data, there was (a) lack of interest in the studied population, (b) communication difficulties, (c) stigma, (d) social construction of disability, and (e) social workers’ lack of preparedness/readiness to serve sensory challenged individuals. These findings hold major implications for theory, research, social work practice, and social work education.

Keywords: sensory impairment, social construction of mental health services, critical disability theory, social work practitioner, qualitative research

Included in

Social Work Commons