Minister Hanafin Launches TCD National Institute for Intellectual Disability (NIID)

Posted on: 25 May 2006

The Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin TD, officially opened the National Institute for Intellectual Disability (NIID), in Trinity College on 25 May last. The NIID offers the first full-time university course in Ireland for people with an intellectual disability.

“The National Institute for Intellectual Disability is a truly pioneering initiative that gives great credit to the foresight and commitment of Trinity College in promoting educational inclusion for persons with intellectual disabilities,” Minister Hanafin said in her opening address.

“I am particularly struck by the emphasis placed on inclusive research, based on involving people with an intellectual disability and their families in identifying and conducting research on their own needs. I believe this will have a significant impact on many lives in Ireland and much further afield,” continued the Minister.

The NIID’s aim is to identify through education and research the central issues affecting the lives of people with an intellectual disability and to ensure their full inclusion both inside and outside the College.

There are currently twenty mature students taking part in the full-time university course, the Certificate in Contemporary Living. A key aim of the Certificate programme is to ensure that education at third level for people with an intellectual disability leads to appropriate employment opportunities.

The course is taught by Trinity College staff as well as staff from a range of voluntary agencies, including St John of God Carmona Services, Stewart’s Hospital, Sunbeam House Services and Moore Abbey. NIID Students are supported by “student mentors” from across Trinity College and are fully included in the social and cultural life of the College.

“The work of the NIID and its Certificate programme form key elements of Trinity College’s strategy to increase the numbers of students with disability attending the College,” the Provost, Dr John Hegarty, stated at the opening. “Providing a learning and social environment appropriate to the needs of these students is fundamental to the plan for the university,” added Dr Hegarty.

The NIID has won prestigious European Commission Marie Curie Fellowships for two major projects to develop the NIID as a centre of excellence in the area of inclusive research. The NIID places emphasis on such inclusive research where people with an intellectual disability are fully involved in deciding on the kinds of research and the way in which it is carried out.

The Institute aims to raise awareness of the need for inclusion of people with intellectual disability through a series of seminars, conferences, consultancies and think tanks on current disability issues. A long term aim is also to develop an Information Centre for people with intellectual disability as well as family members.

Funding for the Institute has been received from a range of public and private donors, including Atlantic Philanthropies, the Ireland Funds, Special Olympics Ireland, the Department of Education and Science, the Higher Education Authority and the European Commission.