Author Archives: admin

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European Parliament Coordinator for Children’s Rights


Marian McDonnell from Lets go Skills  and Lian McGuire (ABC, DCU) continue to represent DisAbuse at the World Anti-Bullying Forum in Dublin, Ireland, including speaking with the new , Anna Maria Corazza Bildt . Anna Maria is the European Parliament Coordinator for children’s rights. She is the spokesperson for the entire European Parliament, ensuring the promotion, respect and safeguarding of children´s rights in all European Parliament policies and legislation and that the best interests of children are always fully respected in EU legislation and non-legislative initiatives of the Parliament

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The partners from Lets go Skills  were joined ABC for their Workshop on DisAbuse and Disablist Bullying at the World Anti Bullying Forum. Prof. Mona O’Moore, Lian McGuire, Fiona Weldon, Irene Connolly & Marian McDonnell delivered a workshop presentation Tuesday June 4th at 10.30 in the Helix theatre at Dublin City University, Dublin.

The workshop showed that DisAbuse aims to empower young people (15+) and adults with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEN/D) and their support services / care workers and teachers to educate about and take charge around the issue of disablist bullying to help prevent and intervene in it’s happening.

By drawing on the direct input and experiences of people with SEN/D, alongside international research and best practice for educating about disablist bullying and utilising techniques such as
•partnered learning
•peer learning
•Lego Serious Play

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Multimedia materials developed by the Let’s go Skills team at IADT and DCU being tested in Rome


The first meeting of the DisAbuse project took place today at Fondazione Mondo Digital in Rome using the multimedia materials developed by the Let’s go Skills team at IADT and DCU. 13 young people with special educational needs and 12 teachers, trainers, and psychologists, talked about their bullying experiences today. They were able to learn from each other to recognize the phenomenon and to understand how they can cope and tackle bullying. Fondazione Mondo Digitale facilitators guided the reflection using the materials developed together with the project partners as well as Lego® Serious Play® Learning tools.

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Irish Service Users and Support Workers/Instructors/Teachers began the pilot course

Category:Pilot testing

The Irish Partners, IADT and DCU in conjunction with Irish Service Users and Support Workers/Instructors/Teachers began the piloting and evaluation of the modules of the DisAbuse Training Project this week.  With great interaction, participation and feedback thus far, these sessions will run twice weekly in two cohorts over the next three weeks on the campuses of St. Patricks & All Hallows, DCU in Drumcondra.

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Let’s Stop Bullying widely praised in Spain


The Let’sGoSkills team was hosted by the Universidad de Murcia, Spain recently. The work completed to date by the Let’sGoSkills team on the Let’s Stop Bullying was widely praised by partner countries at the third STOP DisAbuse Partner Meeting in Murcia. The Disabuse project is being led by the Anti-Bullying centre at DCU. This centre is the UNESCO Chair on Tackling Bullying in Schools and Cyberspace.

The next step is to begin the piloting of the new course on countering Disablist Bullying for SEN/D users and Teachers/Trainers from January to April 2019 . This piloting of the instructional application will take place in educational centres in Ireland, Spain , Portugal and Italy.

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The third DISABUSE Multiplier Event and Partner Lego Methodology Workshop and Partner Meeting will be held at Universidad de Murcia, Spain.

15 – 16 October 2018.

This conference will be held on the subject of bullying and cyberbullying of people with SEN/D at the University of Murcia together with a meeting of the DisAbuse EU project partners. Professor Pilar Arnaiz, who is an expert in the topic of people with SEN(D) and who has directed a thesis on cyberbullying, will participate in this conference. She will present her perspective on this problem.

Two associations of people with disabilities will participate: Asteamur and Fundown. Asteamur is an association of people with autism. Research shows that people with autism are the ones who suffer most from bullying at school. This association goes to schools to give talks about the bullying suffered by people with autism. Fundown is an association that works with people with Down’s Syndrome in all aspects of life, including bullying issues. Finally, Luis F. Martínez, Head of CARM’s Diversity Service, will tell us about the current situation of people with SEN in the Region of Murcia in relation to bullying.

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Focus groups and UX testing

Category:Focus Groups

We have been holding small focus groups with Sen(D) users  to get their views about disablist bullying. We have been gathering feedback on an early stage prototype instructional multimedia application that we are developing​ at IADT. This application’s function is to teach SEN(D) users about staying safe from bullying, both face to face, and in an online environment. The feedback so far from the users themselves has been very positive. They like the look and feel of the instructional application, the colour scheme and graphics. But they want more video and audio stories. They also wanted more games and less text. Over the month of February 2018, we will have collected feedback from 22 SEN(D)  users in total.

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Launch of EU Research Project

The DISABUSE research project was launched by Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor in the Helix on December 4th, with all members of the Erasmus + project team present including Marian McDonnell and Dr. Irene Connolly from the Department of Technology and Psychology in IADT.

​The DISABUSE Project is a 2 year project that is part of the Erasmus Plus Programme, Key Action 2 “Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices” involving five partners from four European countries (Anti-Bullying Centre, Dublin City University, Ireland; Fondazione Mondo Digitale, Italy; ICSTE-IUL, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal; IADT-The Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Ireland; UM-The University of Murcia, Spain).

Mary Mitchell O'Connor at the launch of DISABUSE
Mary Mitchell O’Connor at the launch of DISABUSE

DISABUSE’s aim is to help prevent and counter disablist bullying by learning from the experiences of those in the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEN/SEND) community, at both child and adult level and the research surrounding them. The goal is to highlight the right kind of supports necessary to empower the community and those that work with them at school and work level. As part of that, the project aims to create an ongoing online support module that will be available to both SEN/SEND learners, and those who seek to educate or work with them.

Marian McDonnell and Dr Irene Connolly from IADT
Marian McDonnell and Dr Irene Connolly from IADT

This module’s objective is to improve socialisation, reduce marginalisation and ease user’s lives in school and their migration into adulthood and the working world, to allow them to enjoy fully rounded lives and contribute more widely to society. It will also support and educate, teachers and trainers in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion in learning through educational institutions and wider society, via more in-depth understanding and work with SEN/SEND individuals, and the provision of training/educational materials.

The project’s website and resource platform is being designed and developed by Mohammed Cherbatji and Ryan Dowler at IADT.

See or for more details.

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Lack of an interdisciplinary approach


There is limited published research in the area of designing interfaces for ID and there is a lack of suitable eLearning and mobile applications to evaluate with the actual users. There is a lack of an interdisciplinary approach to the problem area. Psychologists, designers and technologists need to come together in fruitful collaborations to address this important field. By bringing people together to accelerate progress in this area of research with focused intensive support from social entrepreneurship funds, change will happen faster to improve the quality of life and health of those with ID. It is envisaged that some of the proposed networks’ findings could be applied to areas like learning disabilities and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

It is envisaged that the proposed prototype output could be beneficial as an eLearning application, helping to reduce time and cost of paper training for this user group.


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More work needs to be done


(HCI) and User Experience (UX) draw on a multidisciplinary base of psychology, computing, design, art and increasingly social and organisational fields. As technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous and pervasive, we now experience technology as a fundamental fabric of our social lives. As technology developments today accelerate, there is a need for interface designers to take into account users with intellectual disabilities to order to avoid their exclusion from the information society

Designing ICT tools for people with intellectual disabilities is challenging. Unfortunately, there are a considerably small number of research projects and publications referring to the use of instructional technologies by users with intellectual disability and their exclusion from the information society. More work needs to be done in this area. International conferences like the International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs (Miesenberger et al, 2014) show a growing interest in the topic. However, the number of researches with a focus on designing and developing suitable applications for people with intellectual disabilities remains low in comparison with other, mostly physical, disabilities. This is the main theme, or problem which this innovative project intends to address.


Findings from HCI research tell us that artefacts that successfully transform lives and societies are those are designed and iterated with constant reference to people, where the user gives testimony to his/her experience. HCI research often involves the intended users in research and usability studies. However, accessibility to this population can be difficult for researchers.  Sears and Hansa (2011) state that it is difficult to recruit users with disabilities.  The use of non-representative users can lead to inaccurate conclusions about mobile technologies effectiveness. Other issues in HCI research include small number of participants and lack of control groups. Setting up a collaborative network of researchers with a number of local service providers who can provide access to the target users could address some of these issues.

In order to improve quality of life and health for these users, a more targeted interdisciplinary research focus is needed to design and develop applications for this user group. Designing for those with ID can be challenging for several reasons. As mentioned earlier, some research does not include the intended user with an ID and also user testing does not occur. In addition, there is a lack of design principles when developing applications, as “one size does not fit all!”. ID accessibility can call Universal Design into questioning – as it is not possible to design a product for all especially in the broad area of ID (Kennedy, Evans & Thomas, 2010).   Kennedy et al (2010) p. 375 state that “people with intellectual disabilities represent a community frequently left out of discussions about web accessibility, for a number of reasons, not least the complexity of conditions that constitutes an intellectual disability, the lack of standardization in terms of assistive technologies used by these populations, and the fact that the expertise of the individuals driving the accessibility initiatives usually lies in the fields of sensory or physical disability”.