Earlier this week the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, TD, launched the Universal Design Guidelines for Early Learning and Care Settings; commissioned by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and compiled by a Consortium led by Early Childhood Ireland, comprising of Mary Immaculate College, Trinity Haus, and Nathan Somers Design in collaboration with the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design at the National Disability Authority.
According to Professor Emer Ring, Dean of Education, MIC who was a member of the consortium, these guidelines are an important step in making all Early Learning and Care services accessible to all children. This publication will offer guidance on the refurbishment, renovation and the building of centres for Early Learning and Care in Ireland.
This work involved:
- Reviewing national and international best practice, research and guidance in design of early years settings from a Universal Design approach
- Consulting with a diverse range of stakeholders, including early years practitioners, parents and children; and
- Developing Universal Design Guidelines for Early Learning and Care settings, including a self-audit tool, which aims to support the early year’s sector in creating universally designed spaces for all stakeholders in both new and retrofit settings.
Prof Emer Ring, Dean of Education and Dr Lisha O’Sullivan, both from MIC, in collaboration with Tom Grey, Trinity Haus and Teresa Heeney and Máire Corbett from Early Childhood Ireland, conducted the extensive literature review, which under underpins and informs the guidelines.
Launching the guidelines, the Minister said: “Early Learning and Care Services are expanding all of the time. The National Development Plan will further assist this. We want these settings to be accessible and welcoming, not just to children but to families, grandparents and the staff who work there. Above all we want these environments to optimise children’s learning at this critical time in their lives.”
Pictured above at the Launch L-R: Máire Corbett, Tom Grey, Teresa Heeney, Prof Takaharu Tezuka, Minister Katherine Zappone, Siobhán Barron, Prof Emer Ring and Jacinta Sheerin