Embracing Sensory Diversity – Trinity Unveils a Ground-breaking Tool during TCDSU Disability Week
Date: 29th November 2023
As part of TCDSU Disability Week on November 29th, 2023, TCD Sense, an initiative of the Trinity disAbility Hub, is thrilled to unveil the TCD Sense Map. This innovative tool, collaboratively created by neurodivergent student interns from the Trinity disAbility Service and Trinity engineering graduate Dan O'Reilly, goes beyond traditional navigation, offering a beacon of inclusivity that caters to the sensory needs of the entire campus community.
Dr. Kieran Lewis, Occupational Therapy Manager in the Trinity disAbility Hub, expressed his enthusiasm for the project:
"We are extremely excited about the TCD Sense Map. It is not just a tool; it is a new way for us to imagine and think about the needs of our diverse population. This map is a significant step towards creating an inclusive environment that recognizes and respects everyone's sensory experiences."
Faolan Doeck-Launders, Chair of the Trinity Neurodiversity Society and TCD Sense Lead, also a student of geosciences, shared his insights on the project:
"Working on the TCD Sense Map has been a remarkable journey. As someone deeply involved in the neurodiversity community, it is fulfilling to see our ideas come to life in such a tangible way. This map is not just about helping people find their way around campus; it is about redefining how we view and cater to the diverse sensory needs of our community. It's a testament to what we can achieve when we listen to and collaborate with those who experience the world differently."
What Sets the TCD Sense Map Apart?
The TCD Sense Map goes beyond traditional navigation, addressing the sensory intricacies of the campus environment. Each building is detailed with icons indicating various sensory spaces, making the map a personalised guide for individuals with sensory sensitivities and the wider campus community. From identifying quiet zones for relaxation to highlighting areas suitable for focused study, the map ensures everyone's sensory needs are respected. TCD Sense is different from many neurodiverse projects that aim to separate neurodivergent people and not give them opportunities to have many sensory space or opportunities to develop understanding of typical spaces and find a way to manage their individual needs. Ben, an Autistic Student at Trinity College Dublin when asked about the useful of the map said:
"I've found the TCD Sense Map to be incredibly helpful. It is more than just a tool for getting around; it is a guide that helps me navigate real spaces in a way that respects my sensory needs. What really sets it apart is how it does not just lump neurodivergent people into one category but recognises the diversity within our community. It provides opportunities for me to explore the campus with confidence, knowing I can find spaces that are comfortable and conducive to my way of learning and interacting. This map has made a significant difference in my daily life at Trinity, making the campus feel more inclusive and accessible."
Utility at Its Core
Practicality is woven into the fabric of the TCD Sense Map. It effortlessly pinpoints essential amenities like electric outlets, eating zones, microwave stations, accessible restrooms, and water refilling points. This feature-rich map thus becomes an indispensable tool for daily campus life, ensuring comfort and efficiency for all. Paul Flynn Digital Transformation lead for Trinty says, ‘I think this is a fantastic opportunity to showcase how digital experience can have a meaningful impact.’
A New Chapter in Campus Navigation
The launch of the TCD Sense Map marks a new chapter in campus navigation. It reflects a deeper comprehension of sensory needs, fostering an environment where everyone, irrespective of their sensory profile, can find harmony in their surroundings. This initiative is not just about finding your way; it is about finding your space.
Invitation to the Launch
The launch event in TCDSU Disability Week (27th November – 1st December 2023) promises to be a significant milestone in Trinity's journey towards inclusivity. We warmly invite the Trinity community to join us in celebrating this innovation. The presence of the President of TCDSU, who is scheduled to inaugurate the event, will underscore the collaborative spirit that has driven this project.
As we gear up for the launch of the TCD Sense Map, we stand on the cusp of a transformative journey. This tool is more than a map; it is a symbol of Trinity's dedication to creating an inclusive, empathetic, and understanding campus environment. Join us on November 29th as we embark on this new path, illuminating the way for a more inclusive future.
- Diverse Space Identification: The TCD Sense project map goes beyond traditional campus maps by categorising distinct types of spaces based on sensory needs. It includes sensory-friendly seating areas in libraries and student spaces, quiet zones, respite rooms, and flexible seating options. This detailed categorization helps neurodivergent students to easily identify spaces that cater to their specific sensory preferences.
- Customisable Icons and Layers: One of the most innovative aspects of the map is its use of customizable icons and layers. Students and staff can filter the map to display only the types of spaces they need, such as quiet areas or areas with adjustable lighting. This customisation enhances the user experience by simplifying the process of finding the right space for their needs.
Respite Space Quiet Space
- Visual Guides and Building Details: The map provides visual representations of each building, including information on the type of sensory accommodations available. This feature is particularly helpful for new students or visitors who are not familiar with the campus layout.
- User Feedback Integration: A unique feature of the TCD Sense map is the ability for users to leave tips and feedback about different spaces. This crowdsourced information can be incredibly valuable for other users, providing real-life insights into how each space functions in practice.
- Accessibility and Wayfinding: The map is not just about sensory needs; it also focuses on overall accessibility. This includes information on wheelchair access, elevator locations, and the most accessible routes to navigate the campus. The integration of wayfinding features makes it easier for all students and staff, especially those with mobility challenges, to move around the campus.
- Potential for Future Integration and Updates: There are plans to integrate this map into the main college maps and include it in future developmental plans. This integration signifies a long-term commitment to sensory inclusivity and accessibility, ensuring that the map remains a relevant and useful tool for the Trinity College Dublin community.
- Inclusive Design Philosophy: The map’s design reflects a broader commitment to inclusivity. By providing detailed, user-friendly information on sensory-friendly spaces, the map acknowledges the diversity of student needs and preferences, helping to create a more inclusive and supportive campus environment.
The development of the TCD Sense project map at Trinity College Dublin represents a significant step forward in promoting sensory inclusivity and accessibility on campus. By providing detailed, customizable information about several types of spaces, the map is an invaluable tool for neurodivergent students and staff, as well as the wider college community. Its innovative features, including user feedback integration and focus on accessibility, set a precedent for other institutions looking to enhance their support for neurodivergent individuals. This map is not just a navigational aid; it is a testament to Trinity College Dublin’s ongoing commitment to creating an environment that is welcoming and accommodating to all.
The TCD Sense Map is not just a culmination of innovative thought and collaborative effort; it is a beacon leading us towards a more inclusive and understanding future. As Trinity College Dublin continues to break new ground, the TCD Sense Map stands as a shining example of what we can achieve when we come together to understand and support the diverse needs of our community.