Course at WIT for students with intellectual disabilities broadens horizons – Waterford Institute of Technology’s (WIT) QQI Level 3 Certificate in Skills for Independent Living promotes the inclusion of adults with intellectual disabilities in third level education
An information event for WIT’s Certificate in Skills for Independent Living (CSIL), which gives students with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to experience college life, takes place on 18 February.
The QQI Level 3 approved course is specifically developed for people with intellectual disabilities. It has also enrolled students with acquired brain injury. It is delivered on a part-time basis, two days per week, over two academic years (24 weeks per year). Modules include Personal Effectiveness, Application of Numbers, Communication and Computer Literacy, Functional Maths, Health & Fitness, Work Experience and Career Development.
“This course hopes to help students develop a love for lifelong learning and enable students to be fully inclusive in third level community life. Enhancing individual employability, broadening an individual’s horizons and fulfilling a person’s individual educational interests are further outcomes of this qualification,” explained Martha Dunworth-Fitzgerald, course leader.
She urges service providers, individuals and their families to come along to an open event at WIT’s Department of Nursing & Health Care on Thursday, 18 February 2016 to find out more. The event takes place on WIT’s main campus in the O’Connell Bianconi Building in room G19 between 11am and 1pm. The closing date for applications is 6 April, with interviews and numeracy/literacy assessments also taking place in April.
“With the embracement of a social model of care, deinstitutionalization and contemporary changes in legislation, intellectual disability services have seen significant change in recent years,” said Dunworth-Fitzgerald.
“This is particularly true in an Irish context and with so many services now engaged in decongregation this QQI Level 3 course is particularly relevant and pertinent. Intellectual disability students have the right to attend third level education along with their non-disabled peers. The benefits of this course are vast and far reaching and student’s self-confidence and self-belief can considerably improve. Families too and the wider WIT community reap massive benefits from the course.”
Lorraine Dillon has recently come on board as part of the WIT lecturing team and will support Dunworth-Fitzgerald in leading the course. Both have significant experience working in intellectual disability services and are very much aware of the need to ensure inclusive education for all.
Kevin Murphy, from Waterford who graduated in 2015 said: “I enjoyed doing this course. My favourite part was putting my head down and studying and getting my certificate at the end of it. I loved getting to meet other students in the college like the student nurses. I really enjoyed doing the presentations and getting feedback from the lecturers”. Kevin’s advice for someone thinking of doing this course is: “Go ahead and do it, if you don’t get the experience to do it you will miss out on a great two years.”
Claire Power who also graduated in 2015 said: “It was a really good experience and I would recommend it to others. This course gave me more confidence, before the course I would never have stood up in front of a room of people and spoke however, during the course and even now I have no problem standing up and doing presentations in front of strangers. My favourite part was meeting new people, my least favourite was the homework as it was hard sometimes.”
Siobhan Flynn, Learning, Development & Advocacy Officer from the Brothers of Charity Services South East supports the programme as a link between WIT, services and families. She said: “This course has given the students the belief that they are valued members of society and that they too can do the same as everybody else.”
“Since 2010 we have had two groups of students who have graduated with their QQI level 3 qualification. Graduation day for all students is very important not only for the student but also for their families. Many students who have completed the CSIL course never thought they would get the opportunity to go to third level education and graduate just like other members of their families. It is a wonderful experience to be part of and to see the development of students as they go through their two years of college life.”