Opening up a whole new world for students with intellectual disabilities within a third level setting

O'Brien, Patricia, Shevlin, Michael, O'Keefe, Molly, Fitzgerald, Stephanie, Curtis, Stephen and Kenny, Mairin (2009) Opening up a whole new world for students with intellectual disabilities within a third level setting. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37 (4). pp. 285-292. ISSN 13544187


Accessible summary • Students with intellectual disabilities can go to University. • This paper is about a course at Trinity College Dublin. • The researchers talked to students, families and teachers involved with the course. They asked them what they thought about the course. • They found out that the people with intellectual disabilities were more included. They felt better about themselves. They had more friends. • The researchers will give ideas for making University work for students with intellectual disabilities. The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences of students with intellectual disabilities gaining access into a university setting, specifically Trinity College Dublin. The topic is important as gaining access to a university setting for students with intellectual disabilities is not commonplace. The study was qualitative in design and aimed to understand the phenomenon of inclusion by collecting multiple sources of peoples’ understanding of what was happening for the students with intellectual disabilities completing a 2-year certificate course entitled, Certificate in Contemporary Living. The perceptions of the students, family members and tutors were captured through focus groups, questionnaires, and use of Photovoice and document analysis. Triangulation of the multiple sources of data was used as well as open, axial and selective coding for thematic analysis. The student voice echoed by that of family members and tutors found that inclusion within a university setting led the students to see themselves more alike than different to their peers. They felt more accepted, more competent and more socially networked. Vital to the development of friendships was a mentoring programme. The aspect of the certificate programme that supported students to participate in a range of undergraduate classes will be described, and how this strategy is continuing to be researched will be outlined. Being included within a university setting opens up a whole new way of being for students who have previously experienced marginalisation. Such inclusion is a cogent way to promote ability. The safeguards to ensure that inclusion within university settings does not become another form of segregation will be touched upon. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]; Copyright of British Journal of Learning Disabilities is the property of Wiley-Blackwell and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

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