Trinity is to be granted €482,364 for Trinity Disability Service under new government funding announced today.
This morning, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris announced several new initiatives to support those with disabilities in higher education. The aim of the initiatives is to help those with disabilities “better engage with higher education”, granting “better access” to it.
The announcement included the dedication of €5.4 million in services across 23 Higher Education Institutions (HEI) in Ireland. The initiatives introduced are intended to improve college campuses for those with disabilities, assisting staff with training and development.
Of the 5.4 million, Trinity itself will receive €482,364 for Trinity Disability Service. This funding will go to projects such as the Sensory Processing Project, which will aim to create a further inclusive campus by focusing on supports and services for students with sensory processing issues.
Among the projects intended for initiation, numerous among them will seek to target problems affecting those with autism in higher education, including the introduction of assistive technologies for students, the establishment of ‘autism friendly rooms’ in nine different campuses and the introduction of an app to assist students with visual/hearing impairments navigate their way through college campus.
The ‘Inclusive Online Technology Project’ will seek to create an online learning environment, suitable for the diversity of the student body, enhancing the learning experience in the virtual learning format.
The ‘Global Safety & Security Solution’ will seek to improve communications between students and staff, targeting communications from students with disabilities.
Finally, the ‘Physical Access Improvements’ will likewise be introduced, aiming to provide unobstructed access to all strategic buildings.
Speaking today, Harris expressed that “College can be an overwhelming experience, but for people with disabilities, it can be extremely daunting”.
Minister Harris likewise was adamant that the projects introduced “will make a transformational difference to people’s lives”, with the introduction of “funding for training staff” to help students with additional needs.
The announcement was welcomed by Dr Alan Wall, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Authority (HEA). In response to the announcement, Wall said that “the announcement today not only gives HEIs the opportunity to further develop and enhance these supports but also allows them to focus on the strategic development of disability supports and services”.
Wall added that “this is critical when we bear in mind the particular impact Covid-19 has had on vulnerable and disadvantaged learners”.
Trinity Disability Services said that it was delighted to announce they had managed to secure the funding and that extensive planning of projects was underway. Meanwhile, Trinity Disability Services announced that they would strive to make sure that students were kept updated with the various projects throughout 2021.
Other colleges were also granted funding under this initiative, including University College Dublin(UCD), University College Cork (UCC), Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT), Athlone Institute of Technology and Maynooth University.
Speaking to Trinity News, the Department of Further and Higher Education and Research stated that the Department “hopes this funding will enable further progress on the National Access Plan, which has set targets to increase participation in higher education by people with disabilities and support student success”.
The statement continued: “This dedicated funding will enable HEI’s to develop innovation and inclusion support for a student with a disability.”
This article was updated at 18:32 on Friday 29 January 2021, to reflect a statement received from the Department of Higher and Further Education to Trinity News.