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HEA Strategic Initiatives 2021

Introduction

Trinity Disability Service are delighted to announce that we have been successful in a funding application to develop strategic initiatives which aim to provide additional supports to Trinity's students with disabilities and to make Trinity a more inclusive and accessible University. Minister for Higher Education, Simon Harries, today announced €5.4m in extra supports for college students with disabilities and Trinity will receive €482,364. Total cost of these Trinity projects is €1,061,917.

Project:

HEA funding

Trinity funding

1. Sensory Processing Project

€233,934

€184,340

2. Inclusive Technology Project

€67,956

€28,400

3. Global Safety & Security Solution (Disability Functionality)

€52,250

€232,750

4. Physical Access Improvements

€128,224

€134,063

Total: €1,061,917
 

€482,364

€579,553

Alignment with the strategic development of Trinity Disability Service

All projects are in line with the Trinity Strategic Plan, 2020-2025 which sets out clear targets for increasing access, ensuring inclusivity and empowering students with disabilities.

  • Objective 1.5: Increase access and ensure inclusivity. Students who have entered Trinity via the Trinity Access Programmes or the national HEAR and DARE schemes and other under-represented groups will make up 25% of our undergraduate population.
  • Objective 1.9: Engage the wider university community in empowering students with disabilities.
  • Objective 2.4: Grow the quality and capacity of student services in line with the growth of the student body and increase health and well-being services for students.
  • Objective 7.11: Ensure that our built structures accommodate staff and students in an inclusive manner.

Value for Money

Each project has clearly stated outcomes (outlined in the Appendices) designed to positively impact on students with disabilities and the wider community. These projects have been carefully selected and prioritised as they meet the strategic objectives of Trinity College Dublin and the Disability Service and meets the stated needs of the students. The delivery of these projects will benefit the students over their full academic careers. The benefits from these initiatives will be long term and last well into the future and will benefit students with disabilities for many years to come.

In terms of value for money the working definition used here focuses on the four E’s:

  • Economy
  • Efficiency
  • Effectiveness
  • Equity

Economy: All projects are designed to minimize cost to FSD and show significant contribution by Trinity to ensure resources are used to the best possible manner to improve services to students with disabilities.

Efficiency: The outputs of these projects will evidence an improving environment for students with disabilities allowing them to move around and remain in college.

Effectiveness: The overall effectiveness of the projects will be evident in the impact of their delivery on the students with disabilities. The effectiveness will be further evidenced as these projects all have visible, tangible and when implemented, immediate positive impacts on the services used by students with disabilities. All four projects have clearly defined objectives and are included in the appendices.

Equity: The projects proposed under this funding application are all intended to positively impact students with disabilities. Each project focusses on tangible improvements for students with disabilities. Each project will positively impact the student with disabilities they are designed to reach, thus contributing to a more diverse population.

The projects that will be funded by this grant are:

1. Sensory Processing Project

Project Aims:

The project has the following three key strategic aims:

  1. To enable students with sensory processing issues to more fully participate in student life.
  2. To develop inclusive venues on the college campus from a sensory perspective.
  3. To conduct research into the experiences of college students with sensory processing issues and to underpin developments throughout project.

Activities:

Activities have been planned across four strands as outlined below with key activities outlined under each strand:

Strand One: Student Approaches with the Disability Service (August, September 2020 & and revised June-August 2021)

  • 1. Revise Needs Assessment Process to incorporate initial assessment of sensory processing issues. (August, September 2020)
  • 2. Individualised Sensory Based Occupational Therapy Approach for College Students. (August, September 2020)
  • 3. Connection of approaches to other resources within student services such as TCD Sports. (August-December 2020)

Strand Two: College Environment (June 2020-December 2021)

  • 4. Follow up on Previous audit actions with the Science Faculty (May 2020 – August 2021)
  • 5. Follow up on previous audit actions with the library in developing low distraction study spaces, improving acoustics of student common areas and stairways within library, and signage to improve wayfinding. (May 2020 – August 2021)
  • 6. Additional Audits with the following collaborators: Students Union, Trinity Sports, Trinity Careers Service, and Global Room. (Sept 2020-May 2021)
  • 7. Development Sensory spaces/rooms across the college campus. (August 2020-December 2021)
  • 8. Sensory App development with TU Dublin. (May 2020-December 2021)

Strand Three: Staff Awareness and Training (June 2020-August 2021)

  • 9. Development of Workshops / Modules for Academic Staff on sensory processing and inclusive design & practice. (August, September 2020)
  • 10. Coordinate additional training opportunities for key stakeholders with college (Library, Estates and Facilities, Accommodation, Student Services). (January 2021-May 2021)
  • 11. Guidelines for inclusive design of new student spaces in Trinity to include sensory processing (December 2020)

Strand Four: Research (August 2020-December 2021)

  • 12. Connection to the Discipline of Occupational Therapy (In place)
  • 13. Connection to International Researchers / Networks (May, June 2020)
  • 14. Research into the experiences of college students with sensory processing issues and to underpin developments throughout project (September 2020-December 2021).

Outcomes & Benefits of the Project:

  • 15. Development of Sensory Rooms across the college campus and inclusion of sensory design in informal student spaces (qual. & quan.).
  • 16. improve the acoustics of student spaces within library, to improve the sensory experience for all students, but particularly for those students with sensory processing issues, who are particularly sensitive to auditory sensation (qual. & quan.).
  • 17. Development of evidence-based needs assessment and Occupational Therapy approaches within the Disability Service (qual. & quan.).
  • 18. Provide Improved signage to improve wayfinding through the library environment (qual. & quan.).
  • 19. Development of group and individual low distraction study spaces within TCD Libraries (qual. & quan.).
  • 20. Completion of audit process within ten areas within Trinity (qual. & quan.).
  • 21. Improved facilities for students who avail of reasonable accommodations of low distraction exam venues (currently 247 students) (qual. & quan.).
  • 22. Development of clearly defined and evidence-based Sensory Audit Process of college environments (qual. & quan.).
  • 23. Collaborative development of a Sensory Environment Evaluation App with TU Dublin (qual. & quan.).
  • 24. Development of Guidelines for inclusive design from a sensory perspective (qual. & quan.).
  • 25. Development of training resources for Trinity academic and administrative staff on sensory processing (qual. & quan.).
  • 26. Dissemination of the research findings nationally and internationally (qual. & quan.).

Staff Lead: Kieran Lewis, email klewis@tcd.ie

Staff Involved: Kieran Lewis (Senior Occupational Therapist), Jessica K Doyle (Project Officer), Declan Treanor (Disability Service Director), Aisling Claffey (Occupational Therapist) and Dr Clodagh Nolan (Discipline of Occupational Therapy, School of Medicine), Library staff (Peter Dudley, Siobhan Dunne & Geraldine Fitzgerald), Professor Aine Kelly Dean of Undergraduate Science, President of the TCD Student Union (Led on Student Spaces – Zon Mac Leinn). Students from the Trinity Ability Co-op, will also actively engage in developments within the initiative.

2. Inclusive Online Technology Project

As College reimagines the curriculum for 2020-21 in the blended online and/or face-to-face environment, it is critical to ensure that no students are left behind. The COVID-19 challenge provides us with a timely opportunity to embed inclusive principles and practices which value the diversity of the student body and enhance the learning experience in the virtual learning environment, thereby enabling all students to access and engage with modules, programmes and courses, participate fully in learning activities and demonstrate their knowledge and strengths through a varied suite of inclusive assessment tasks.

Project Aims:

To promote and develop mainstreaming of inclusive technological practice to ensure that the curriculum is accessible to all students, in particular students with disabilities.

Objectives:

  1. To acquire enabling technology solutions for mainstreaming across the college virtual learning environment.
  2. To embed good quality formatting of curriculum materials in an accessible format as an inclusive practice.
  3. Provides an institution-wide course content accessibility report that allows for deep insight and understanding into how the institution is performing and evolving and what the problem areas.

Qualitative Benefits:

Availability of accessible curriculum materials and support for academics as they move to being more inclusive in teaching and assessment.

Quantitative Benefits:

  • Reporting on accessibility of the academic materials uploaded by academics will be easily available.
  • Allow for targeted supports to areas low on accessibility.

Staff Lead: Andrew Costello, email acostel@tcd.ie

Staff involved: Andrew Costello (Assistive Technology Officer, Disability Service), Alison Doyle (Specialist Learning Support), Information Technology Services, IT Services, the Trinity Centre for Academic Practice and eLearning (CAPSL) & Trinity INC – Inclusive Curriculum Project.

3. Global Safety & Security Solutions (Disability Functionality)

Trinity College Dublin is planning on implementing a new Global Safety and Security Solution which will significantly contribute to improving communications to/from students and staff to/from the University. Having investigated the possibilities of this product and its functional possibilities for students with disabilities, the planned aims and benefits are outlined below:

  • Send targeted communication to students with disabilities, in particular mobility impaired users that a specific lift is out of order and subsequent communications to advise when it has been repaired.
  • Sensory assistance reporting will allows disabled users to report something that is having a sensory impact on them, e.g. acoustics in a room could too loud. Such incidents will be reported by category and will then be work-flowed to our disability services to respond to.
  • Hearing impaired assistance – it is possible to send notifications to deaf users in the event of an emergency as they may not be able to hear a fire alarm and in such instances it is possible to send visual alerts to these users.
  • Mobility impaired assistance – if the user remains checked in when onsite, it is always possible for the locations of these users to be identified which will provide assistance in a timely manner if an incident should occur. This will greatly enhance our Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEPs) procedure.
  • Alerts: If a member of our disabled community needs immediate assistance, they can trigger an alert which will pinpoint their location and will enable the responders to respond/provide assistance in a timely manner.
  • Assistance: Our disabled community can also send requests for First Aid or to contact our College Health Services through the click of a button.
  • Emergency devices worn by our disabled community can also be utilised to trigger alerts.
  • Working/studying abroad: It is possible for our disabled community to directly contact the local emergency services in the country they are studying/working in if they trigger an alert.

Staff lead: Declan Reilly, email reillyde@tcd.ie

Staff involved: Katharine Murray, Head of Safety, Esther Hoban, Estates and Facilities, Brendan Leahy, Head of Facilities and Services, Dr. Declan Reilly, Disability Service.

4. Physical Access Improvements

This is a joint project with associate college – Marino Institute of Education (M.I.E.) Trinity & M.I.E. are committed to the principle of universal access and actively work towards providing access to all its buildings. Significant accessibility improvements have been carried out making many buildings more accessible and ensuring students with disabilities have access to all strategic buildings.

With over 100 buildings in Trinity, work is continuing to make as many buildings accessible as possible. The primary aim of this project is to provide unobstructed access to all strategic buildings. This is critical to ensure students with disabilities face no unnecessary barriers. By making entrance to buildings and lecture theatres, laboratories fully accessible will meet this project aims. Forty-eight doors have been identified for accessibility improvements across both HEI.

The following have been identified as a priority in Trinity and will provide accessibility:

  • Student Houses on Trinity Campus - House: 13, 14 and 34, 42, 43, 44 (4 doors automated per house – entrance to house, entrance to apartment, entrance to shared space, entrance to bedroom); 6 by 4 = 24 doors to be automated.
  • Trinity Hall: House 89, 90 – automation of 8 doors; door to house 89 & 90, door to the Apartment, Bedroom and the Kitchen;
  • Academic Building – lecture theatres/laboratories – 12 doors.

Marino Institute of Education replacement of manually opening doors with automatic opening doors in the following areas:

  • MIE main entrance.
  • Main entrance to the Nagle Rice building which houses the student social area, student gym, student restaurant, main gym and student lecture hall.
  • Internal entrance to the St. Mary’s Building.
  • Entrance to the MIE Library in the St. Patrick’s Building.

Staff Lead: Declan Treanor, dtreanor@tcd.ie

Staff involved: Brendan Leahy, Head of Facilities & Services, building owners, Declan Treanor, Director Disability Service, Sean Delaney, Registrar M.I.E.

Extensive planning for each of these projects has already taken place and now that funding has been guaranteed, project work can now begin in earnest. The Disability Service will endeavour to keep you up to date with the progress of these projects throughout 2021. All four projects are designed to be completed by the end of the 2021 calendar year.