Case Studies / DESSA

Providing accessible training for the community and voluntary sector.

Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency Logo - Accessible online training on disability inclusion rights
Children and Young People’s Services Committees logo and link to website
Independent Living Movement Ireland logo and link to website
St. Angela's College, Sligo logo and link to website

The project was a partnership initiative between DESSA and Children & Young People’s Services Committees in Dublin City South, Dublin South, Waterford, and Wexford and supported by Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI), and St. Angela’s College, Sligo.

Product & Service

Custom eLearning

Use Cases

Disability Inclusion

Key Challenges

Making concepts clear.

Giving a voice to people with disabilities.

Educate organisations on legal and ethical duties.

Key Features

Keyboard friendly

Video captions

Signed language

DESSA was established in 2001 as an independent, not-for-profit organisation which is committed to supporting and defending the rights and interests of disabled people and their families.

DESSA is core funded through the Scheme to Support National Organisations fund by the Department of Community & Rural Affairs. This fund is a key element of the State’s support for the role of the sector in contributing to the development of strong and vibrant civil society and in improving outcomes for those most disadvantaged.

Their mission is to pursue the active involvement and full participation of disabled people in Irish society. At the heart of this is the belief that people who experience disability are citizens with rights, not objects of charity.

DESSA’s work is based on the Social Model of Disability. This recognises that it is attitudes, practices and structures that are disabling, preventing people from enjoying economic participation, social inclusion and equality and not an individual’s impairment.

The Challenges:

Our main goal was to create an eLearning course that really connected with people and helped them truly grasp the importance of disability equality, inclusion, and human rights. We wanted to show just how crucial it is to break down barriers, whether they're physical, attitudinal, systemic, or communicative, so that everyone, especially people with disabilities, can actively participate in society. And we didn't want to forget about the vital role that Disabled Persons’ Organisations (DPOs) play in promoting inclusion, community engagement, and advocacy. DPOs are representative organisations or groups that are governed, led and directed by disabled people and in which disabled people make up a majority of the overall staff, board and volunteers in all levels of the organisation.

But, let's be honest, we had a few hurdles to overcome:

  1. Making Concepts Clear: First things first, we needed to explain the 'social model of disability' in a way that anyone could understand, as opposed to the confusing 'medical model.' Sometimes, organisations tend to lean towards the medical model, and that can lead to ineffective or even harmful practices. So, we had to make sure learners knew why the social model was the way to go.
  1. Giving a Voice: We also realised how important it is to include people with disabilities in discussions and decisions that affect them. As the saying goes, "Nothing about us without us."
  1. Legal and Ethical Duties: Our course had to educate organisations about their responsibilities under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the first human rights treaty of the 21st century.
  1. Universal Accessibility: Last but not least, we couldn't compromise on making the course fully accessible. It had to be designed with inclusivity in mind, catering to individuals with various types of impairments.

The Solution:

We took a collaborative approach, bringing together experts from various organisations to create an eLearning module that dives deep into the world of disability equality. This module was designed both for community volunteers starting a new role, as well as, to act as a refresher for seasoned volunteers. Our aim was to make this course as engaging as possible, so learners can truly understand the nuances of this important topic.

  1. Content Development: We worked closely with individuals who have personal experience with disabilities to develop the course content. Our goal was to break down complex ideas about the social model of disability and empower everyone to be more active in supporting disability rights. We wanted to shift the focus away from individual impairments and towards the barriers disabled people face in their daily lives.
  1. Inclusive Narratives: In this course, you'll hear directly from disabled activists. We've included videos and quotes from these individuals to help clarify important concepts and share their personal experiences. This adds a unique and enriching perspective to our course content.
  1. Legal Framework: We also made sure to cover the legal aspects. We've included a comprehensive overview of the legal obligations outlined in the UNCRPD. Our goal is to ensure that organisations not only align with disability rights on a moral level but also meet their legal responsibilities.
  1. Engagement: To keep things engaging, we've included interactive quizzes, activities, and assessments throughout the course. This way, you'll be actively involved in your learning journey, ensuring a more effective and enjoyable experience. Learn more about eLearning design.

Implementing Universal Design

Keyboard Friendly

You can easily navigate using just a keyboard, so it's friendly for those using assistive tech.

Clear Focus

We added visible focus indicators to help you know what you're selecting.

Colour & Contrast

We picked colors with good contrast for easy reading.

Image Descriptions

All images have descriptions for screen readers.

Video Captions

We added captions and transcripts for those with hearing impairments or who prefer reading.

Readable Text

We used easy-to-read fonts and resizable text.

Clear Instructions

We kept instructions simple and clear.

No Rush

No time limits, so everyone can take their time.

Consistent Layout

The layout is the same throughout, making it easier to follow.

Signed Language

Irish Sign Language (ISL) translations of video content.

User Testing

We got feedback from disabled users to make sure it works well for everyone.

Declaration of independence

One key aspect that really made our solution shine was the heartfelt involvement of disabled activists. We brought their voices to life through the use of videos and quotes. This wasn't just a technical move; it was about keeping our course centered around real people and embracing the heart of the social model of disability.

When we crafted our learning materials, we left no stone unturned in making them accessible to everyone. We poured our hearts into designing them, making sure that they would work seamlessly for individuals with various impairments. We sweated the small stuff, like choosing the right font size and typeface, ensuring colour contrast was spot on, organising content in a logical sequence, and fine-tuning the focus order. All of this was done with one goal in mind: to make sure everyone could access and benefit from our course.

Still from video interview with disabled male activist saying "we want to be involved, included'.
Video interview for accessible training course with female disabled activist saying "We do not need to be looked after".

Creating an inclusive interactive scenario

We put a lot of thought into creating an interactive scenario that really connects with learners and helps them grasp why it's crucial to use the right words when communicating with people who have impairments. Our main goals for this scenario were:

  1. Raising Awareness: We wanted to make sure learners understand how the words they use can deeply affect disabled individuals. We hope to drive home the message that using respectful and inclusive language is essential.
  1. Recognising Outdated Language: We aim to empower learners to spot language that might be old-fashioned, insensitive, or disheartening to disabled people.
  1. Promoting Respect: We hope to inspire learners to swap outdated words with more respectful ones that honor individuals' dignity and their ability to make choices.
Inclusive Scenario screenshot from DESSA Accessible Training Course to spot outdated language, including two stickmen having a conversation.

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