Discover how DESSA provided accessible training for the community and voluntary sector.

Cobblestone Learning teamed up with DESSA to support community and voluntary sector organisations in developing their awareness of disability rights. Together, we provided training on the principles of disability equality, inclusion, and human rights. This training aligns perfectly with the goals of the NDA's upcoming introductory eLearning module.
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.

DESSA Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency logo
DESSA is a national community development organisation established in 2001. It's purpose is to create a society where everyone with lived experience of disability and their families can participate equally as full citizens. They do this by to eliminating barriers to enable disabled people to reach their potential and participate fully in their community.

“Cobblestone helped us translate our vision from paper to an award winning eLearning experience.”

— KAY MAGUIRE coillte TitleTraining Standards Specialist

The Challenge

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.

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.

Implementing Universal Design

We've made sure this course is accessible to everyone by taking some key steps:


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.

Audio & Video

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.

Accessible training icon with hands - left

Consistent Layout

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

Signed Language

Irish Sign Language (ISL) translations of video content.

Testing with You

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


How can you engage with us?

Start by contacting us via email or phone. We are more then happy to take a 30min discovery call with any potential new customers to discuss your ideas and needs. We can point you in the right direction, give you a better understanding of how to implement your project or provide some ideas based on our experience. If you want to engage with us on a project, we offer fixed price project as well as ongoing support.

We want to hear from you! Book a discovery session today!