The Disability Service places quality of support at the heart of service provision and delivery, a key principle which underpins our strategic plan. The Disability Service is committed to maintaining the highest possible standards and to promoting a culture of inclusiveness, openness and accountability in the work that we do. Since the creation of our service in June 2000, we have continued to develop the expertise required to deliver a high quality, person-centred service.
The Disability Service’s mission, vision and values are identified in the Disability Service Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan serves a five-year term. The objectives contained within link to the Trinity College Strategic Plan, are student-focused, and are reflective of the evolving needs of students with disabilities within Higher Education.
Disability Officers have particular responsibility for the Trinity Needs Assessment Process for all students applying to the Disability Service, and for ensuring that the needs of students with disabilities are communicated to Schools to ensure implementation of reasonable accommodations requirements. This includes oversight of supports for students with disabilities on professional courses in Trinity. These activities are informed by consultation with relevant staff and students and aligned to the Trinity Reasonable Accommodations Policy.
The work of the Disability Service is evidence based and is also guided by relevant legislation; Equality Employment Act 1998, Equal Status Acts 2000-20018, Disability Act 2005 and the Data Protection Act 2018. Disability Officers regularly present at conferences and seminars on the work and impact of the Disability Service, including publication of articles on outcomes for students with disabilities. Qualifications that support this work are relevant undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology, Coaching, Teaching, Health Sciences and Education, such as the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Disability Needs Assessment), the Certificate of Competence in Educational Testing (BPS), the Certificate in Data Protection through the IPA, and PhD research with the Schools of Education and Medicine investigating the relationship between reasonable accommodations and academic outcomes, transition pathways, and disability specific interventions.
Quality of Assistive Technology (AT) support is maintained though membership of the Community Hub for Accessible Technology (CHAT) forum and via direct consultation with working assistive technologists in third level institutions. Assistive technology provides person to person interventions through technological solutions, to enable the student to access an academic curriculum independently, that is without additional human interventions. This is delivered in line with evidence-based research from a wide range of resources such as conferences, journals and discussion lists, and independent research into matching AT to students. Additionally, service-based strategies are also shared with peers within third level institutions via the Association for Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and also disseminated publicly through the Trinity College Disability Service website.
Maintaining high quality standards for academic support is assured through membership of professional bodies including the British Psychological Society, the Psychological Society of Ireland, the Association of Educational Psychologists, the Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, International Coach Federation and the Register of Qualified Test Users. Academic support provides person-centred strategies and interventions which are delivered in line with evidence-based practice, determined by consulting a wide range of professional resources (e.g. conferences, journals, discussion lists), and research specific to disability, neurodiversity, cognitive factors such as Executive Function, and learning theory. Additionally, service-based strategies are also shared with peers, for example, AHEAD and internationally at relevant conferences in the form of webinars and journal articles, and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities such as the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Facilitators Badge accredited by AHEAD. In addition, staff in the Trinity Disability Service sit on University and national committee, such as the Department of Education National Access Plan Committee. Participation in numerous European projects such as CHARM-EU and Erasmus projects allowing for sharing of knowledge and expertise.
Occupational Therapy Support is provided by professionally qualified Occupational Therapists, who are registered with the Occupational Therapists Registration Board at CORU and adhere to Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics and standards of performance for Occupational Therapists. Occupational Therapists are also members of the Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland and World Federation of Occupational Therapists. The Occupational Therapy Support is a collaboration between the Disability Service and the Discipline of Occupational Therapy in Trinity, with Dr Clodagh Nolan, Assist. Professor in the Discipline of Occupational Therapy in TCD.
Occupational Therapists in the service must engage in clinical supervision and participate in CPD; through postgraduate study, independent research, and attendance at monthly journal clubs with Occupational Therapists from other Dublin Based HEIs as well as from the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities. The approach within Occupational Therapy Support is underpinned by the Person-Environment-Occupation Model (Law et al,1996), client-centred practice and recovery. Assessments and Interventions used within the service are evidence-based, with a number of tools such as the Trinity Student Profile / Electronic Trinity Student Profile and the Unilink Self-Management Programme developed within the service, and the subject of previous and current PhD level research.
The operational and administration of the Disability Service includes financial management of the ESF Fund for Students with Disabilities, management of Educational Support Workers, and strategy and policy development. The administrative function within the Disability Service ensures that each of the specific activities or processes it engages with are accurately defined, that the standard of quality expected for each activity is stated, and that metrics to measure these standards are operational. Disability Service staff report weekly, at the end of each Semester, and at the end of each Academic year on Key Performance Indicators specific to the activities they engage with. Weekly reports feed into bi-annual reviews that, in turn, form the basis of the Disability Service Annual Report. Issues emerging are continuously reviewed and form the basis of changes implemented to processes in a solution-focused approach. Procedures and workflows are operational to ensure that reports required by the College or by external bodies (HEA, AHEAD) are prepared accurately, on time, and to the standard required.