The Disability Service (henceforward DS) was formally set up in June 2000 with the employment of a Disability Service Co-ordinator (the present Director). Service delivery within the DS utilises a multi-disciplinary approach, and is comprised of an experienced team of individuals who work to support the disabled student. They include one full time Disability Officer, four Occupational Therapists, a half time Disability Officer and half time Assistive Technology Officer, one full time and one half time administrative staff, all of whom seek to offer a quality support based on individual need, as identified using a needs assessment process.
DS Mission: To create an accessible, transformational, educational environment in an interdependent University community and provide a platform for innovation and inclusion.
DS Vision: Engage the wider University community in empowering students with disabilities.
DS Values: Inclusive, Advocating, Collaborative, Inquisitive, Pioneering, Positive disruptors, Dynamic.
The Disability Service (DS) has two principle functions, firstly is to provide supports to Trinity’s disabled community (which comprises of students and staff, and indirectly; visitors) and to recommend policy and procedural changes as required. Secondly, DS ensure Trinity is compliant with the Disability Act 2005 and other relevant legislation and codes of practice. The DS has evolved and developed since the last quality review in 2005, this evolution and description of the functions is outlined below.
The ethos of the Trinity College Dublin Disability Service is to move from a transactional model of provision - where students are passive recipients of supports - to a transformational model of resource usage, where students take an active part in planning their educational journey.
Timeline on the development of the Disability Service in Trinity College Dublin.
- 1995 Special Needs Committee established.
- 1996 Disability Liaison Officer, part-time academic, appointed to support students with disabilities in College.
- 2000 Full time Disability Officer appointed 1st June 2000, an office in the Arts Building, Room 2054 (previously a respite room) was provided for the Service.
- 2001 HEA Strategic Initiative funding granted to develop assistive technology and information services. Assistive Technology and Information Centre (ATIC) was founded, a partnership between DS, the Library and Information Service Systems (ISS) in College.
- 2002 Provision of 9 accessible residence rooms in 3 houses in Botany Bay.
- 2003 The Assistive Technology and Information Centre (ATIC) opened in the new Ussher Library.
- 2004 The University’s Strategic Plan 2004-2007 stated that ‘Disabled students will find the College more friendly and supportive and they will have access to a learning and social environment which will be more appropriate to their needs’.
- 2004 Unilink - An Occupational Therapy support service was established in 2004 and was a unique collaboration with the Discipline of Occupational Therapy.
- 2005 The first external Disability Service Quality Review took place in May 2005. Recommendations included; increased staffing; the need for a new reporting structure for the Disability Service; College needs to continue its inclusivity; universal access principles need to be implemented in teaching, learning, and assessment and the physical environment and whole institution approach to disability.
- 2005 Disability Act 2005 enacted on September 1st 2005 resulting in a number of positive measures in College, including the appointment of an Access Officer and two Inquiry Officers, and a comprehensive Disability Act 2005 complaints procedure.
- 2006 The Pavilion bar was made fully accessible.
- 2007 A Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Disability Needs Assessment) was developed by the Disability Service with the School of Education; 22 students graduated from this programme.
- 2008 College received Strategic Innovation (SIF 2) funding for Trinity Inclusive Curriculum (TIC). The development of TIC was a partnership between CAPSL, access initiatives and the academic community, and ran from October 1st 2008 to 2012. The objective of TIC was to mainstream inclusive principles within the entire College curricula so as to enable all students, particularly those from non-traditional backgrounds, to participate more fully in the academic life of College.
- 2008 College wide physical access audit conducted in mid-to-late 2008.
- 2009 College Board approved the College Accessible Information Policy
- 2009 An eGovernment Web Accessibility Award was presented to the Disability Service for its efforts to make the website accessible to disabled users.
- 2009 02 Ability Awards - Trinity College was selected as an Ability Company at the 02 Ability Awards in 2010. Trinity achieved the status of Ability Company in all six categories of the awards: Leadership, Customer Service, Environmental Accessibility, Recruitment and Selection, Learning Development and Progression and Retention and Wellbeing.
- 2010 Tenth Anniversary of the Disability Service. The Disability Service held its first symposium with the launch of a student experience book.
- 2010 The pathways in Front Square were completed, allowing a full accessible journey through the main square of the campus.
- 2010 The Unilink Service launched the Self-Management Programme for students with mental health difficulties.
- 2011 The Asperger’s Syndrome Support Service website was officially launched by the Minister for Health, Dr. James O’Reilly in November 2011
- 2011 Unilink, in collaboration with TCD Equality Fund, the TCD Staff Office and the Student's Union, developed the '5 A Day for Mental Health' booklet, leaflet and website.
- 2011 Trinity received the UK JISC TechDis OASES Award for Institutional Progress on Equality using Technology. Trinity was chosen as one of six institutions that have an exemplary approach to embedding accessibility into institutional policy, thereby ensuring equality of access to teaching and learning for all students.
- 2011 The Pathways to Trinity website was launched on 11th April 2011 to community groups, second level students, professionals / practitioner bodies, schools and guidance counsellors.
- 2011 Launch of the first DS Strategic Plan 2011- 2014; which aimed to develop clear and effective support systems at all stages in the student journey, from college entrance to graduation to employment was developed.
- 2012 The Disability Service held its 2nd Annual Symposium in June 2012.
- 2012 The Transition to employment website and booklet for students with disabilities was launched.
- 2012 The Unilink Service developed a shared service with Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology, and University College Dublin. Tenders were awarded for each institution.
- 2013 DS received a significant grant from the Genio Trust to develop a Transition to Employment project supporting college students and recent graduates experiencing mental health difficulties, in their transition to employment.
- 2013 The Professional Placement Planning Process and Guide for students with disabilities on professional courses was launched at the Disability Service 3rd Annual Symposium.
- 2014 The Fatigue management booklet was launched in April 2014 by the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences; Prof. Mary McCarron.
- 2014 The Third Annual Disability Service Symposium is due to take place in September 2014 which will officially see the launch of the Genio funded project- entitled ‘Career Pathways’.
- 2014 College committed significant funding of €1 million Euro to ensure compliance with the Disability Act deadline of December 2015, physical access priority works outlined and work plan agreed.
- 2014 The Pathways Volunteer Programme was launched in June 2014, with 48 students signing up to participate in this ambassador programme.
- 2015 Disability Service Student Ambassador Programme was established.
- 2015 Association of Higher Education Careers Services Employability Award presented for the Career Pathways project.
- 2016 National Ann Beckett Occupational Therapy Award was presented for the Career Pathways Service.
- 2016 Ambassador Accelerator Programme was established and rolled out with 12 Ambassadors over a 5 week period in the Summer of 2016.
- 2016 One week Summer Programme for students with Asperger's Syndrome (Autistic Spectrum Disorder / Condition).
- 2016 Occupational Therapy Service formerly known as Unilink is changed to Occupational Therapy Support.
- 2017 Trinity Disability Service hosted the Ready, Steady Go Summer Camp for twenty secondary school students with disabilities.
- 2017 The Trinity Students with Disabilities Ambassador Programme expanded and recruited 15 new Ambassadors.
- 2018 The Trinity College Board adopted the Reasonable Accommodation Policy.
- 2018 Concealed wheelchair lifts installed in front of entrances to the Exam Hall and the Chapel on Front Square.
- 2018 Not So Different Creative Ability Programme launched in Trinity.
- 2019 The Disability Service launched a new website www.autism-uni.org to help students with autism to make the transition from school to university.
- 2019 Trinity became the first Irish university to install a disabled cycle parking facility.
- 2020 In response to the COVID-19 pandemic the Disability Service moved online in March.Disability Service staff were available to meet with students remotely via MS Teams, phone and email. Online resources, including a Blackboard module, were developed to support students while the DS Director worked closely College staff to ensure that alternative assessment modalities were inclusive.
- 2020 The Trinity Ability Co_op, a collaborative initiative between students, staff and other stakeholders working towards inclusion in Trinity, was established in May.
- 2020 The TCD Forum for Staff & Ph.D Students with Disabilities was established in May.
- 2020 The Disability Service launched its own instance of the Student Information Desk currently used within Trinity in July. The Disability Service will also utilise the case management functionality of this tool, ensuring GDPR compliance in the way that it records, stores and shares sensitive information.
- 2020 The Trinity Disability Service Strategic Plan 2020-2025 'Empowering Students with Disabilities was launched in December'.