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DkIT Launches New Fully Accessible Changing Facility In Move Towards More Inclusive Education

06 October 2020

Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) has today unveiled a brand new, fully accessible changing and bathroom facility which has been constructed at its campus. The new purpose-built facility is a vital new resource for DkIT students and staff with disabilities who have complex needs.

The new accessible changing unit goes beyond a conventional wheelchair-accessible toilet, in that it includes additional assistive technology of a hoist, height adjustable adult-sized changing bench, height accessible basin and toilet. Ultimately it will give students and staff with disabilities more space and the right equipment to take care of personal hygiene, in safety and in comfort.

Speaking today, DkIT President Michael Mulvey, PhD, said,

“We are delighted to open this new facility to our students and staff today. DkIT is committed to developing a culture of inclusivity within our institute and this is an important step in making sure our campus and our region is accessible for students with diverse needs. Our aim is to ensure that all students, irrespective of their background, have equal access to Higher Education and receive the necessary resources and facilities to enable them to study and learn with independence, safety and dignity.”

“We acknowledge that unfortunately, we did experience some delay in getting this facility ready for public use, however we are now delighted with the finished work. The new unit has been completed to an extremely high standard and has been well received by students and staff alike. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to our student community for their patience and understanding during this transition period and I would like thank our neighbour, O Fiaich Institute of Further Education, for their support in sharing facilities over the past year.” 

The development of DkIT’s new accessible changing unit was initiated by the institute’s Disability Office. The new facility is located on the ground floor in the Main Restaurant Building and includes the following equipment:

  • Height-adjustable, adult-sized changing bench
  • Ceiling track hoist system
  • Adequate space for a person with disabilities and up to two assistants
  • Centrally located toilet with space both sides for assistants
  • Privacy screen

DkIT BA (Hons) in Arts student, Conor Byrne from Clogherhead, Co Louth campaigned for such a facility to be installed on campus.

Speaking today, Connor said,

“It is fantastic to have such a facility on campus. It is vital that accessible units such as these are available to students, like myself, so that we can have independence like everyone else to learn, socialise and participate in student life. I am pleased with the work that has been completed and I would like to see more of these types of facilities available across the country.”

Louth County Councillor, Declan Power is the local representative in Clogherhead and has supported Conor’s campaign to raise awareness of this facility over recent months.

Also speaking today, Cllr. Power added,

“I am pleased that DkIT has completed works on this important facility and it is great that it is now open to students and staff at the college. The new changing and toilet unit will, without question, have a significantly positive impact on Conor’s life and the lives of many others and I commend the institute for prioritising the works.”

Sadly however, facilities such as these are a scarcity across Ireland and we estimate that there are less than 20 such facilities nationwide. This is a matter of major concern for people with disabilities because it can significantly limit the quality of their lives. As a society we must strive to change this and make the necessary changes to make our world more inclusive and accessible for all. It is wonderful that County Louth is now leading the way in this regard, however we have much work still to do!”

DkIT is currently in discussions to make this facility available to the general public and updates on this will follow in due course. The institute continues to prioritise accessibility within the college via its Disability Office which provides academic and personal assistance to students with a disability, this includes any student with a physical, sensory or learning difficulty or who has a medical or mental health condition. In an effort to encourage greater participation from diverse learners, in 2019 the institute officially joined the national admissions scheme, the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE).

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