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AHSS Benefactions Award


Sense of Community Index Project

This project, conducted by Dr John Bosco Conama from the Centre for Deaf Studies, seeks to explore the notion and strength of community belonging amongst the deaf community in Ireland. It builds on a previous survey study conducted by the researcher which indicated that Irish Sign Language is one of the primary bonds that holds the Irish deaf community together.

There is a strong perception among deaf community members that the community is in gradual decline, with dwindling traditional bases for producing ISL users. For instance, enrolments in residential schools for the deaf have steadily declined, and social, sports and cultural activities in the community have also been falling. Aspects such as technological advances, consolidation of educational policies for deaf children in mainstream education, and individualisation and increased social mobility have an impact how this community operates. However, there is paltry research on how such changes have affected deaf community cohesion, especially in the Irish context.

This AHSS Benefactions award will cover the next phase of Dr Conama’s research – setting up a series of focus groups discussing the findings from the survey along with a series of qualitative interviews with key community leaders. In addition to academic publications, project findings will be shared with the Deaf community in ISL, via a series of vlogs (a video version of blogs).


Connected or disconnected? The impact of COVID-19 on international students at Trinity

This project, by Dr Bronagh Ćatibušić and Dr Sarah Sheridan, investigates the impact of COVID-19 on the academic engagement, social adjustment, and wellbeing of international students at Trinity during the academic year 2020/2021. It focuses on the perspectives of students who are non-native speakers of English to explore how the pandemic has affected the university experience of students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Through written reflections and focus groups, participating students will be enabled to express their views on their academic experience at Trinity, particularly in the online learning environment. They will also share perspectives on their social adjustment within and outside College, including through online interaction, and on how the pandemic may have impacted their wellbeing.

This qualitative study will raise awareness of challenges faced by international students within the online university environment. It will also consider how online spaces may promote their equal participation and connection to the college community. The project findings will guide the development of support for students and staff to enhance the university experience of international students at Trinity. This research may thus inform inclusive approaches to internationalisation in higher education, both in Ireland and beyond.


Profiling Patients with Communication and Swallowing Difficulties associated with COVID-19.

There is emerging evidence that COVID 19 impacts significantly on communication and swallowing function, particularly for patients requiring intubation and admission to intensive care units (ICU). From March to June 2020, 22 acute care hospitals in Ireland provided Dr Margaret Walshe and Dr Julie Regan with detailed demographic data, patient outcome data and recovery rates on 316 patients admitted to acute care and 99 patients admitted to ICU, referred to speech and language therapy with communication and/or swallowing disorders associated with COVID 19. This central database will allow the researchers to answer a number of questions regarding patient profiles, risk factors for developing communications problems, risk factors for developing swallowing disorders, and exploring the impact of specific variables such as medications, proning, delirium, respiratory function and neurological sequelae associated with COVID 19. The AHSS Benefactions Fund award will enable Dr. Walshe and her team from the Department of Clinical Speech and Language Studies to analyse and disseminate these findings.