Understanding invisible disabilities has become a more consistent conversation in recent years. While this conversation has included developing better medical treatment and legislative progress for accessibility requirements, there remains progress to be made in comprehending how these invisible disabilities impact a person's daily life. This dissertation research focuses on how informal learning tools such as interactive narratives could be developed to provide insight into the ways an invisible disability influences a person's day that otherwise goes unnoticed by the mainstream population. To provide this insight, an advanced prototype of an interactive story titled Under the Rock was developed and based upon the researcher's experiences growing up and living with advanced hearing loss. The narrative used for Under the Rock was drafted using an autoethnography methodology to capture key moments from the researcher's memories and translate them into a game narrative. Following a choose-your-own-adventure story format, users are asked to guide the main character through a series of situations that are directly influenced by her hearing loss and learn about the impact of each choice. To test the efficacy of Under the Rock, a survey study was conducted to determine what users most commonly took away from the game experience. This survey study found that a majority of users began with an expected baseline of minimal knowledge about hearing loss, and after completing the study many reported a deeper understanding of hearing loss within the context of everyday life. While there is a great deal of work to build upon within this research, this advanced prototype of Under the Rock and accompanying survey study show promising initial results in developing effective informal learning resources for educating mainstream populations about invisible disabilities and their impact on daily life.


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Graduation Date





Underberg-Goode, Natalie


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Arts and Humanities

Degree Program

Texts and Technology




CFE0009036; DP0026369





Release Date

May 2022

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)