Trinity College Dublin – Dublin, Ireland

The disAbility Hub Trinity – Disability Service was established in 2000 by the Senior Tutor of Trinity College Dublin (TCD) to provide disability support to disabled students in Trinity. The equity groups supported by this programme include persons with disabilities, low-income students, and staff/students from ethnic minorities. These groups are identified through the National Access Plan and the University’s internal policies.

In the last two years the office has carried out multiple activities with regard to equal access, inclusion and diversity, such as; 


  • Support and counselling for students and university staff, 
  • Lectures, workshops, seminars for students, faculty and non-teaching staff, 
  • Training courses for peer educators, 
  • Public promotion (e.g. production of media content such as podcasts), 
  • Improving physical accessibility, 
  • Improving digital accessibility, 
  • Research 


In addition to the activities supporting inclusion, the office also implements the following; binding policy (legislation), strategy/action plan, recommendations/Guidelines, preventive programmes, and disability policies to counter exclusionary and discriminatory practices at the University. 


Furthermore, the Trinity Disabled Community Engagement Project – an initiative targeted at the disabled community in TCD and beyond, was the last innovative practice/tool introduced to ensure inclusion, diversity and equal access. The aim of the project is to support the disabled community in TCD to engage and immerse themselves in activities associated with student life, graduate attributes formation both within and outside of the TCD community. This strategy outlines how community engagement supports the work of TCD in being more inclusive and gives disabled people a sense of belonging. The Disability Community Engagement Project is intended to guide TCD in its partnership and engagements with disabled people and the broader community.

The motivation for establishing the programme came when the Tutor service in TCD, responsible for pastoral support of all students, identified that support for disabled students was more complex and required specialists to support these students. The factors crucial for institutional leadership in deciding to establish a programme for wider access include: Access and participation agenda, and the Disability Service, which has a specific mandate to provide support and services to the College’s disabled community which includes students, staff and indirect visitors. Disability Service is required to ensure the College is compliant with the Disability Act 2005, alongside other relevant legislation and codes of practice. TCD Disability Service is successful in empowering disabled students and staff to reach their full potential. The office is committed to providing a transformative and sustainable approach to support, where disabled individuals play an active role in developing essential life skills and planning their educational and professional journey. By working together, the aim is to create an inclusive and accessible environment that fosters independence and success for all. The Trinity disAbility Hub is a centre of activity, resources, and innovation for all disabled students and staff at TCD. Here are some features and activities that could be developed in the hub; User-led best practices in disability support and resources: The hub is a centre of expertise for disability support and resources, with disabled students leading the development and implementation of best practices. Student partnership and mutual learning: The Hub promotes collaboration and learning between disabled students, staff, and the wider Trinity community. Activities include peer support groups, workshops, and mentorship programs. Raising awareness for disability-related issues: The Hub organises events and activities to raise awareness of disability-related issues on campus and in the wider community. This includes disability awareness training for staff, awareness-raising campaigns, and public events. Multi-stakeholder engagement: The hub is a collaborative platform that brings together disabled students, staff, employers, and disability organisations to promote inclusion, diversity, and sustainability. Activities include summer and graduate internships, career fairs, networking events, and advocacy campaigns. Innovation in inclusion and sustainability: The hub is a centre of innovation for inclusive practices and sustainable solutions for disability-related issues. This includes research projects, hackathons, and innovation challenges. Accessible facilities: The hub could provide accessible facilities such as study spaces, assistive technology, and accessible meeting rooms for disabled students and graduates. Advocacy and policy development: The hub is a centre for disability advocacy and policy development on campus and in the wider community. This includes lobbying for better disability services and support and developing policies and guidelines to promote inclusion and accessibility.
The programme is governed by the University and HEA Acts, Disability Act 2005, Equal Status Act 2000, HEA National Access Plan 2022-2028, and DARE Disabled Admission system.
Disability Service Staff Composition Reporting to the Director of Trinity Disability Service are 12 staff consisting of: One Head of Student Disability Support/Deputy Director, One Administrator, One Executive Officer, One Disability Office, One Outreach Disability Officer (Marino Institute/RIAM/Lir), One Disability Service Systems, Assistive Technology & Information Manager, One Occupational Therapy Supports Manager/ Senior Occupational Therapist, Three Occupational Therapists, and One Graduate Intern. Diversity, inclusion, and equality are explicitly mentioned in this programme and the universities strategies, policies and work plans. Strategically aligned to the Trinity Strategic Plan, the Disability Service team has set out three strategic plans (2011-2014; 2015-2020 & 2020-25) which reflect the evolution of the service. The current Disability Service Strategic Plan (2020-2025), ‘Empowering Students with Disabilities’ sets out the Disability Service priorities and was developed in line with TCD’s strategic mission, priorities and themes. This strategic approach aims to enhance the student experience by engaging prospective students, current students, and staff, with the intention of improving practice and implementing change across the whole institution. It is an evidence-based approach, collecting data and evaluating supports to improve the student journey. The ethos of the Disability Service is to move from a traditional, transactional model of provision, where students are passive recipients of support, to a transformational and sustainable model of resource usage, where students take an active part in developing essential life skills and planning their educational journey. Core values of the service are outlined within the Strategic Plan – Inclusive, Advocating, Collaborative, Inquisitive, Pioneering, Positive disruptors, Dynamic. The programme is part of official national networks, with the benefit of participating in such networks being the sharing of ideas for development of disability services in higher education nationally.
The main challenges that the programme had to overcome were service demands and staffing, which don’t always align. The number of students requiring support is growing significantly leading to pressure on innovation and improvements. The main obstacle to ensuring long-term sustainability in the programme is if the disability service is sustainable. Mainstreaming of areas such as physical accessibility requires some work to ensure estates go beyond the minimum requirements. Funding is stable and comes from a range of sources, the majority of which are non-Core TCD sources. The Disability Service budget for 2021/22 was comprised of the following funding sources: Higher Education Authority (HEA) Core Access grant, HEA Fund for Students with Disabilities allocation, HEA Fund for Students with Disabilities once Off Strategic Initiative Fund for disabled students, and Service level agreements with Marino Institute of Education and Royal Irish Academy of Music for disability support.
The programme has a formal evaluation process. The following information describes the indicators used to measure the success of the programme. Disability Service activity is organised in the eleven interconnected processes. Each process has defined objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which are reviewed annually. Each process has a designated process lead who is responsible for implementation, oversight, and review. The Disability Service places quality of support at the heart of service provision and delivery, a key principle which underpins our strategic plan. The Disability Service is committed to maintaining the highest possible standards and to promoting a culture of inclusiveness, openness and accountability in the work that we do. Biennial peer reviews are held within the Disability Service, where process leads present on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for that semester, as well as any challenges / issues, and plans for the upcoming period. KPIs for each Disability Service process are reviewed annually, and reported within, Disability Service weekly operational meetings, monthly meetings with the Disability Service Director, biennial reviews or in the Disability Service Annual Report. Disability Service processes overall are reviewed in the lead up to each. The Student Information Desk (SID), used as contact management system within the Disability Service, provides ongoing reporting on service usage, which is reported with weekly operational meetings, as well as annual reports. Evaluation data is collected as described above, and an annual report produced and presented to the Student Life Committee and Council, which is also the party to whom the evaluation report is disseminated.

DisAbility Hub - Trinity Disability Service

Dublin, Ireland