The 20th anniversary of the UCD Centre for Disability Studies was celebrated in style on the 14th and 15th of July 2016 in the George Moore Auditorium, UCD O’Brien Centre for Science, on the Belfield Campus.
Celebrations commenced in sunshine when over 100 delegates, including advocates, family members, practitioners and researchers, arrived early on July 14th to attend the ‘Discussions in Disability’ seminar. The day began with a warm welcome from the university, represented by Dean of Graduate Studies and Deputy Registrar, Associate Professor Barbara Dooley; Head of School of Psychology, Associate Professor Suzanne Guerin; and Director of the UCD Centre for Disability Studies, Dr Christine Linehan. Associate Professor Dooley provided an engaging history of UCD and noted how the university had expanded markedly over the twenty years of the Centre’s establishment in 1996. The Centre’s move to the School of Psychology in 2005 was charted by Associate Professor Guerin, a then lecturer in the School, who subsequently became Director of the Centre.
Dr Linehan followed with a brief resume of the Centre’s current activities in teaching and research, notably the Centre’s post-graduate MSc in Rehabilitation and Disability Studies. Dr Linehan emphasised that the Centre’s remit for community engagement provided a platform for delegates to listen, reflect and participate in the ample time devoted during the celebrations to audience participation.
Prof Patricia Noonan Walsh, founding Director of the Centre, and Ireland’s first Professorial Chair in Disability Studies, began proceedings by reflecting on the establishment of the Centre and on the subsequent changing paradigms in supporting individuals with disabilities over the last 20 years, noting that while progress in some areas was admirable, other fruitful areas for development had yet to be realised.
Three ‘Discussions in Disability’ comprised the remainder of the day. Each discussion comprised two brief presentations of just 15 minutes each by leading authorities in the field followed by a full 30 minutes of audience discussion.
Dr Bob McCormack, formerly CEO of Dara Residential, chaired the first discussion on individual budgets with contributions from guest speakers Aoife O’Toole, CEO Dara Residential and Martin Naughton, self-advocate and pioneer of the independent living movement in Ireland. An invigorating and passionate audience discussion questioned why the implementation of individual budgets for people with disabilities in Ireland was still in its infancy, supported typically through pilot projects which have yet to transform into a national resource allocation system. Frustrations and tensions were expressed by many, as were fears and concerns regarding the level of support to be provided by family members, some of whom felt they were inexperienced and unsupported to manage these budgets.
PDF of Aoife O’Toole's slides
Our second discussion focused on assistive technologies and whether they were available for all persons with disabilities. Dr Ger Craddock, Centre for Excellence in Universal Design chaired, with presentations by Trish MacKeogh, a recipient of an ASSISTED fellowship, and Siobhan Long of Enable Ireland. Audience discussion focused on the potential of technology, more recently low-cost IT, which could provide non-invasive and efficient methods of supporting people with disabilities enjoy greater levels of independence. The role of technologies in the educational field received particular attention. Delegates reflected on these issues at lunch on the 4th floor of the O’Brien Centre for Science enjoying panoramic views of the campus with ample time to meet both old and new acquaintances.
PDF of Trish MacKeogh slides
PDF of Siobhan Long slides
Eithne Fitzgerald, recently retired Head of Policy, Research and Public Affairs at the National Disability Authority, chaired the final discussion on the timely issue of ‘exploring risk’. Brendan Broderick, CEO Muiriosa, and Finbarr Colfer, HIQA, ably navigated the landscape where individual risk is balanced against duty of care. A lively discussion session followed with delegates questioning how the establishment of disability support services, and the state funding allocated to these services, requires a level of monitoring that may be incongruous with independent living.
PDF of Brendan Broderick's slides
PDF of Finbarr Colfer's slides
Transcript of presentation by Brendan Broderick, CEO Muiriosa on Exploring Risk
Delegates are likely to recall Brendan Broderick’s emphasis on ‘a life worth living’, a rallying call for delegates following a full day of discussion and debate which we hope will linger long beyond the day itself
Our celebrations continued on Friday 15th July 2016 with a half day seminar on “Epilepsy and Intellectual Disability” delivered by leading international expert Prof Mike Kerr, Clinical Professor at the Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, Cardiff University. Delegates comprised family members, support workers and clinicians many who work within the distinct fields of intellectual disabilities, or epilepsies, but rarely having an opportunity to bring these two fields together.
Our celebrations continued on Friday 15th July 2016 with a half day seminar on “Epilepsy and Intellectual Disability” delivered by leading international expert Prof Mike Kerr, Clinical Professor at the Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, Cardiff University. Delegates comprised family members, support workers and clinicians many who work within the distinct fields of intellectual
Once again, audience discussion was a key component of the day with Prof Kerr providing evidence-based advice and support on a wide variety of issues raised by delegates. The day concluded with a reflection by Associate Professor Suzanne Guerin, Head of School of Psychology, who highlighted the opportunities for communication and collaboration between the myriad of stakeholders attending the 20th anniversary celebrations