Course for disabled ‘first of type’

 

LORNA SIGGINS, Western Correspondent

NUI GALWAY (NUIG) has initiated a new college programme for people with intellectual disabilities which has been described as the first of its type in Europe.

The university will advertise eight places shortly for the 2011- 2012 academic year, which will allow successful applicants to study, gain work experience and avail of college sporting and social activities.

The pilot initiative has been endorsed by advocates for the sector and by a number of organisations providing support to people with intellectual disabilities.

The “Going to College” project arose as a result of a discussion between parent and disability advocate Peggy Ryan and Prof Pat Dolan, Unesco chair in children, youth and civic engagement at NUIG.

Prof Dolan contacted the national federation of voluntary bodies, which seconded Breda Casey to NUIG to co-ordinate the project in co-operation with NUIG’s community knowledge initiative.

Ms Casey said the planning group, then formed by NUIG, found it difficult to locate a fully inclusive model of the same type in any European university.

However, it did find support across the Atlantic in Alberta in Canada – a world leader in the field. Canadians Bruce Uditsky and E Anne Hughson, of the Alberta Association of Community Living and the University of Calgary respectively, outlined the details of their approach at a presentation this week in NUIG.

The eight students who will start college at NUIG this autumn will register for a two-year course with individual college plans. Each plan will include the goals which students require to obtain a certificate in arts and civic studies, ranging from Fetac levels one to six.

Full details will be advertised in local newspapers and on NUIG’s website in early March.

The Irish Times – Wednesday, January 19, 2011

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