Ireland 2017

The trip took place in 2017. This page is here for informational purposes only. 

A new faculty-led program has been approved by the university to launch this Spring/Summer 2017.

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to international perspectives on disability. This course will discuss conceptualization of disability across diverse cultures, laws and social policies that affect the lives of people with disability, and systems of support for people with disabilities across the globe. There will be a focus on human rights for people with disabilities, as outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This 4-credit course will involve:

  1. A weekly one hour seminar on the UMass Amherst campus throughout the Spring 2017 semester (Fridays 4-5PM)
  2. Two weeks in Ireland attending the International Disability Law Summer School in Galway and site visits to Trinity College, University College Dublin and Inclusion Ireland in Dublin (June 10-24, 2017)


  • Ashley Woodman
  • Christina Metevier


International Disability Law Summer School, Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway

The Centre for Disability Law and Policy has hosted 8 International Disability Law Summer Schools, beginning in 2005. The purpose of the conference is to equip participants with the insights and skills necessary to translate the generalities of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into tangible reform for persons with disabilities. The core focus of the conference changes each year. Participants include persons with disabilities, their families, civil society groups of persons with disabilities as well as advocates for disability law reform, lawyers, policy makers, policy analysts and others. The faculty includes senior academics, practitioners, advocates and policy makers from around the world.

Most of the speakers have been directly and actively engaged in drafting and implementing the Convention. Others are advocates for change and reform. There are over 100 participants, from over 39 countries worldwide, making it the largest and most diverse conference of this nature in the world. Prior legal knowledge or experience is not required. The aim is to provide the participants with a forum to sharpen their argumentative strategies and to identify weaknesses as well as strengths in the different argumentative approaches. Delegates will be mentored throughout the week in crafting their arguments by the international Faculty. The participants will demonstrate what they have learnt in arguing before a mock UN Committee. Students will be able to review the background information and the instructions for this exercise in advance.

Centre for Disability Studies, University College Dublin

The UCD Centre for Disability Studies was originally founded in 1996 under the name ‘The Centre for the Study of Developmental Disabilities’. Inspired by developments in the United States, the Centre was Ireland’s first university-affiliated disability center. By 2002, the Centre’s activities beyond the field of developmental disabilities were recognized in a rebranding of the Centre as the UCD Centre for Disability Studies. The Centre is dedicated to the field of disability studies, a multi- and inter-disciplinary area of research, teaching, training, and practice that aims to develop a better understanding of disability. This includes looking at the nature of disability (both historically and currently), the impact of disability on people with disabilities, their families and wider social context, and how services can met the needs and maximize the potential of people with disabilities and their families.

During our first visit at UCD, we will hear from Dr. Christine Linehan. Christine Linehan is a lecturer/assistant professor in the School of Psychology and Director of the UCD Centre for Disability Studies and Joint Director of the UCD Master’s Program in Rehabilitation and Disability Studies (with Dr. Suzanne Guerin).

Our first visit at UCD will include the following:

  • An overview of the activities of the Centre for Disability Studies
  • A history of disability policy and practice in Ireland
  • An overview and discussion of current advocacy efforts in Ireland

Inclusion Ireland

Inclusion Ireland is a national rights-based advocacy organization that is committed to the promotion of the rights of people with an intellectual disability and their families. Inclusion Ireland provides an information and advice service to people with an intellectual disability, their families and also to services that support people with an intellectual disability as well as students and others doing research in the sector. Inclusion Ireland campaigns for changes in services and legislation that will improve the quality of life and participation of people with an intellectual disability in Irish Society. The mission of Inclusion Ireland is to be the independent champion of people with an intellectual disability and their families whose standing and expertise in intellectual disability is acknowledged and to ensure that people with an intellectual disability have their voices heard, are not isolated or segregated and can lead more independent and healthier lives.

During our visit, we will hear about their current advocacy efforts. Our visit will include the following:

  • An orientation to the mission and activities of Inclusion Ireland
  • A presentation and Q&A session with some of the self-advocates with intellectual disability that serve on the board of Inclusion Ireland
  • A Q&A session with family members of individuals with intellectual disability
  • An introduction to Inclusion Ireland’s current policy initiatives and political campaigns

Centre for Disability Studies, University College Dublin

The purpose of our first visit to UCD was to learn about the policy and practices that affect people with disabilities in Ireland. The purpose of this second visit is to learn more about the Centre for Disability Studies’ current research initiatives.

This meeting will be led by Dr. Suzanne Guerin, who is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology and Joint Director of the UCD Master’s Program in Rehabilitation and Disability Studies (with Dr. Christine Linehan). Dr. Guerin’s research aims to impact policy and practice. Her presentation and discussion will cover her research on adults with intellectual disabilities and their families, including the following areas:

  • Bereavement in adults with intellectual disability
  • Services for older people with intellectual disability in Ireland (including palliative care)
  • The impact of childhood illness or disability on the family

She will also describe and discuss the findings of large-scale studies of disability related services in Ireland.

Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disability, Trinity College Dublin

Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (TCPID) situated within the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin aims to promote the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in education and society. Their mission is to enable people with an intellectual disability to develop their potential by a combination of high quality research, dissemination of new knowledge, lifelong learning and professional training. The Centre provides people who have intellectual disabilities with the opportunity to participate in a higher education programme designed to enhance their capacity to fully participate in society as independent adults.

The TCPID was formerly established as the National Institute for Intellectual Disability (NIID) in 1998 and the NIID developed the Certificate in Contemporary Living (CCL), a two year full time course for students with intellectual disabilities. The aim of the CCL was to introduce students with intellectual disabilities to college life and to enable them to develop life skills. Since the CCL was first approved by University Council in 2006, there have been over 120 graduates. The CCL course has now been substantially reconceptualized as the “Arts, Science and Inclusive Applied Practice” certificate program. The first group of students will start Fall 2016. The new curriculum offers students a high academic standard of learning. The course objective is to realize the full potential of the students with intellectual disabilities. It will help to develop a broad range of skills across a comprehensive curriculum, including preparing graduates to work in diverse employment settings. This reconceptualised course is rooted in evidence-based research and aims to provide students with the independent living skills needed to become full participants in Irish society.

Our visit will include:

  • An overview of the education system in Ireland, from Dr. Natasha Spassiani, Programme Coordinator for the Arts Science and Inclusive Applied Practice Certificate Program and Assistant Professor of Inclusion and Disability (Department of Education, Trinity College).
  • An orientation to the Certificate Program from Dr. Natasha Spassiani and Ms. Maria Clince. Dr. Spassiani will discuss the philosophy, mission, and academic and vocational components of the program. Ms. Clince, an occupational therapist, will discuss her strategies for promoting the success of the students in the Certificate Program.
  • Presentations from the recent graduates of the Certificate Program.

A Q&A discussion with a panel of professors at Trinity College about the challenges and successes stories from their first year teaching students with intellectual disability in the Certificate Program.



Fishing Boats in Dingle Harbor

At NUI Galway, we will stay at the Corrib Village Apartments. This complex of apartments is used by students at NUI Galway during the academic year but is dominated by visiting student groups in the summer. The apartments have their own shop (like a convenience store), laundromat, and restaurant. The conference is only a 5 minute walk. Wifi, linens and cleaning services are provided. Each apartment has four bedrooms. The rooms have a bed, desk, armoire and shelves. Two of the bedrooms have private, ensuite bathrooms and the remaining two bedrooms share an interconnecting ensuite bathroom. Each bedroom is opened by a unique swipe key adding additional privacy and security. Each apartment has a fully equipped kitchen and living area. Rooms within each unit will only be booked for our group.


In Dublin, we will be staying in accommodations at Trinity College in the heart of downtown Dublin. Similar to NUI Galway, we will be staying in accommodations that are used by students during the academic year but visitors in the summer. Two students will share a bedroom with an esnuite bathroom. Rooms are equipped with beds, desks, armoires and shelves. Wifi, linens and cleaning services are provided. Each bedroom is opened by a unique key providing additional privacy and security. There is a shared kitchen, fully equipped, and living area. A continental breakfast in the nearby cafeteria is included.


The cost of the program is $2,850, plus the cost of airfare (which you will book yourself) and additional meals. This trip is eligible for financing from student loans.


  • Transportation (to and from the airport, from Galway to Dublin, 3 day bus pass in Dublin)
  • Breakfast in Dublin
  • Lunch during the conference and during our visits to UCD
  • Two group dinners
  • Accommodations


This program is open to all majors. Sophomore standing or higher is required. Graduating seniors are also eligible to participate. If you are a Psychology major, this course counts toward your major as an upper level elective (400 level) or a seminar.

We will process applications as we receive them. The program is limited to 20 students, so apply early. For full consideration, apply by December 1st, 2016.

Applications should be submitted through the International Programs Office (IPO) website ( Search for “Ireland” under “Programs” or click this link to be taken directly to this program page. You will be asked to submit a short essay in response to the question “Why do you wish to participate in this program? Include prior experiences and the relevance of this program to your course of study and future plans.” We will be inviting students for interviews based on their applications.


Fridays 4-5pm (location to be announced on Spire)


Email Ashley Woodman or stop by office hours (Tobin 538) if you have any questions about the program.