Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

November TCAID: In Focus - Digi-ID – Accessible Digital Skills Education

Digi-ID is a pan-European partnership that addresses the challenge of digital inclusion and digital literacy among people with intellectual disabilities. Digi-ID is an EIT Health funded multidisciplinary project involving partners from Ireland, France, Sweden, and The Netherlands who are experts in education, health, and technology. The project is developing an innovative digital skills education programme, delivered via an accessible solution/app, using an inclusive co-creation process with approximately 250 adults with intellectual disability, supporters, professionals and families/carers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has elevated the importance of digital inclusion as an essential need and basic right of everyone. Digital literacy is required to harness the increased opportunities online for supporting health, accessing health professionals, and connecting with services. It is also essential for connecting digitally with friends and family at times when face-to-face connection is not possible.

IDS-TILDA has shown how people with intellectual disability experience much poorer education, health and wellbeing outcomes, something which is exacerbated through their digital exclusion. People with intellectual disability also have high levels of communication difficulties, with one in three reporting difficulty talking to healthcare professionals. Recent research demonstrated for those with intellectual disability who did use technology they had improved social inclusion outcomes such as greater frequency of contact with family and friends [1]. Yet the recent IDS-TILDA COVID-19 surveys found that many people with intellectual disability remain excluded from accessing and using technology even after pandemic-related increases [2]. As current international research demonstrates lack of prior support and training for both people with intellectual disabilities, support and health care staff was both a barrier and a challenge to pivot to in person meetings and support online meetings [3]; [4]; [5]; [6]. Loss of autonomy and an increased reliance on support for many blocked digital opportunities [7]; [8]; [5].

Our goal is to empower people with intellectual disability with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to manage their health and social inclusion needs digitally, to ensure they are not left behind in our digital age.

From left to right: recording sessions with our Citizen Advisory Panellists - Fionn Crombie Angus, Mei Lin Yap and James Delaney; our European partners; collaborators from NLN/RehabCare; our Tech team waytoB; our Citizen Advisory Panel & supporters.

Authentic engagement and inclusion of people with intellectual disability throughout the entire process of developing our programme is at the heart of Digi-ID.

  • • Online co-creation focus groups included 60 people in each of the four partner countries.
  • • Our user testing phase engaged other learner representatives with our tech partner WaytoB to ensure our programme is accessibly delivered.
  • • Our Citizen Advisory Panel (CAP) is a group of seven individuals with intellectual disability, hired as paid experts supporting the project; whose voices, insights and experiences are heard and included in every critical decision of our project.
  • We design accessible monthly CAP meetings to engage with all members in meaningful ways to review and validate our research data and provide expert by experience review of prototype work. CAP members have represented us at national, EU and international conferences where they voiced their views on digital inclusion and their specific input into the design and co-creation process of our education programme.

    Take a listen to our project video we co-created with our wonderful Citizen Advisory Panel

    We have pushed the co-creation process to an optimum level, through supports and coaching to enable CAP members to become our ‘digital educators’. This demonstrates the power and potential of people with intellectual disability to be the ‘face’ and ‘voice’ of our Digi-ID accessible education programme. Our programme is comprised of short video tutorials on priority topics identified during the focus groups, delivered by our CAP members.

    The focus is on introductory digital skills, e.g., getting started with video conferencing calls, internet and social media, guidance on password management with a particular focus on independent use and awareness of accessibility features.

    Digi-ID has aims to have real life impacts on quality of life, better health, well-being and social inclusion by improving digital skills.

    We’re happy to share our story so far with you at our upcoming event, where you will hear from our EU partners, Irish intellectual disability service collaborators, our engineering team and of course our wonderful Citizen Advisory Panel.

    Date: Thursday 16th December 2021

    Time: 11:00 -12:00 (Irish Time; 12:00-13:00 CET)

    Register your attendance

    We’re excited to continue our mission to address the challenge of digital inclusion into next year with EIT Health support, to expand our network with new collaborators from Croatia, the UK and Spain and global partner Microsoft.

    To learn more about our project please visit our web page:

    And join us on Twitter - @Joindigi_id

    And on our new Facebook page - @JoinDigiAcademy


    [1] Murphy, E.,McCausland, D., Carroll, R., McCallion, P., McCarron, M., Exploring the relationship between technology usage & social inclusion for older adults with intellectual disabilities in Ireland, IASSIDD World Congress , Glasgow, 6-9 August 2019 , 2019

    [2] McCausland, D., Luus, R., McCallion, P., Murphy, E., & McCarron, M. The impact of COVID‐19 on the social inclusion of older adults with an intellectual disability during the first wave of the pandemic in Ireland. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research.

    [3] Jeste, S., Hyde, C., Distefano, C., Halladay, A., Ray, S., Porath, M., Wilson, R. B., & Thurm, A. (2020). Changes in access to educational and healthcare services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities during COVID‐19 restrictions. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 64(11), 825–833

    [4] Lake, J. K., Jachyra, P., Volpe, T., Lunsky, Y., Magnacca, C., Marcinkiewicz, A. & Hamdani, Y. (2021). The Wellbeing and Mental Health Care Experiences of Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities during COVID-19. Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities

    [5] Lunsky, Y., Bobbette, N., Selick, A. & Jiwaet, M. I. (2021). “The doctor will see you now”: Direct support professionals’ perspectives on supporting adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities accessing health care during COVID-19. Disability and Health Journal

    [6] Masi, A., Mendoza Diaz, A., Tully, L., Azim, S. I., Woolfenden, S., Efron, D., & Eapen, V. (2021). Impact of the COVID‐19 pandemic on the well‐being of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their parents. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 57(5), 631–636

    [7] Datlen, G. W., Gillian, W., & Pandolfi, C. (2020). Developing an online art therapy group for learning disabled young adults using WhatsApp. International Journal of Art Therapy: Inscape, 25(4), 192-201

    [8] Power, N., Dolby, R., & Thorne, D. (2021): ‘Reflecting or frozen?’ The impact ofCovid-19 on art therapists working with people with a learning disability. International Journal of Art Therapy