TCAID celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Posted on: 09 December 2022

The Trinity Centre for Persons Ageing and Intellectual Disability (TCAID) celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in an informal gathering with Provost Linda Doyle at the weekend, to highlight the abilities of people with an intellectual disability and the value and benefits of inclusion – in particular, in the workplace.

TCAID celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The Trinity Centre for Ageing and Intellectual Disability (TCAID) – the international and multi-disciplinary research centre based at Trinity – examines key issues in ageing and the life course, informing policy and debate at the national and local level. TCAID supports team members with ID with developing new knowledge and skills, new experiences and learning about new topics.

In keeping with this year’s international over-arching theme on innovation and transformative solutions for inclusive development; TCAID colleagues, Mei Lin Yap, Ambassador Liaison Officer (pictured right in photo) and Christina CorrResearch Assistant (pictured centre in photo) spoke with the Provost about the impact that working in Trinity College has had on their lives, their respective roles in the Centre and their career development.

Research tells us that there are many benefits for people with an intellectual disability of being in employment such as a sense of purpose, having a voice and feeling valued which we look forward to discussing in conversation with the Provost.

TCAID values diversity in the workplace, as it adds strength to the overall research team, providing opportunities, which promotes success and learning, strengthening the path of research. Work gives individuals a sense of purpose and self-worth. For many, it defines who we are and is a source of justifiable pride. The benefits of being in employment are well documented; however, unemployment is a critical issue for people with intellectual disability.

TCAID has proactively driven innovation and transformative solutions for inclusive development of individuals with an intellectual disability.

Ms Mei Lin Yap joined TCAID in 2020 as the Ambassador Liaison Officer. Her role involves advising researchers, representing TCAID at events related to the centre or PPI activity and managing PPI Panel meetings. Talking about the importance of work for her Mei Lin, told the Provost that:

Work is important to me, as I feel I can contribute to society. As part of my role, I am involved in so many great research projects, engaging with stakeholders which is underpinned by Public & Patient Involvement (PPI). Working as part of this team makes me feel valued and making a difference on how to age well in Ireland with Intellectual Disabilities. Working in TCAID signifies to me how far I have come in my journey. From student to graduate here at Trinity College Dublin to eventually becoming Ambassador Liaison Officer for TCAID in such a prestigious university is both an honour and a privilege to me.” 

Ms Christina Corr joined the TCAID team in 2021 as a Research Assistant to the Post-Diagnostic Dementia Support Guidelines for People with an Intellectual Disability project, aims to increase our understanding of existing post-diagnostic dementia supports for people with intellectual disability and establish what can be done to improve these services.

Christina has designed an accessible version of a ‘researcher career development framework’. She developed easy read materials which were used to increase her knowledge of research methods, as well as developing her professional research skillset. Christina told the Provost about meaningful and practical research, saying:

“As I have experience of living with Down syndrome, I have a perspective on easy read materials that other team members would not have. I love working in Trinity, I love my colleagues and I love the experience of working as a researcher.”

The implications of Christina’s work with accessible easy-to-read material for researchers career development, will be far reaching for researchers in any educational institute, world-wide.

TCAID figures show the stark reality for people with an intellectual disability in Ireland concerning employment and inclusion:

  • In 2011, the first wave of the Intellectual Disability Supplement to the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (IDS-TILDA) found that just 6.6% of the population were in real paid employment. Additional analysis at Wave 2 in 2014 identified the same level of employment but most were engaged in other forms of activity, primarily in day services but also sheltered workshops, in education or training, and unpaid work. 
  • Around 14% were not in any form of occupation, including those who were unemployed or looking for work, unable to work due to being permanently sick or disabled, and retired. Respondents who were employed reported the highest rates of emotional or mental health compared with participants in other forms of occupation, while those not in any form of occupation had the lowest rates. 
  • In 2020, the fourth and most recent wave of IDS-TILDA identified that there was an increase in real paid employment from 6.6% to 8.7%, but individuals not in any form of occupation now stood at 18.7%.

Provost of Trinity College Dublin, Dr Linda Doyle, said: 

“It is really inspiring to listen to Christina and Mei Lin and hear about their positive experiences of being so embedded in the life of TCAID. 

“The theme of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is focused on transformative solutions and TCAID has demonstrated great foresight in providing transformative opportunities that underline the value and benefits of inclusion, particularly in the workplace.“

Professor Mary McCarron, founder and Principal Investigator for IDS-TILDA said at the event:

“Today on International Day of Persons with Disabilities we are talking about transformative inclusion, unlocking opportunities and opening new avenues of career development for people with intellectual disability. Mei Lin and Christina’s stories are exemplar of how innovative solutions for employment can create meaningful opportunities for individuals with far reaching impact not only on their roles in the workplace but also build their social network and independence. Inclusive employment in TCAID is about focusing on the abilities, empowering colleagues with ID to take advantage of opportunities, become their own agents of change and embrace their immense strengths and contribution they bring to Trinity College Dublin and broader society as a whole.”

For more information, you can contact: June O'Reilly, Strategic Development Officer, TCAID at  

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