TU Dublin & Vision Ireland Partnership aims to Improve Transport Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Published: 8 Jul, 2024

Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Vision Ireland at a celebratory launch event today at the Wayfinding Centre in Glasnevin. The announcement will see TU Dublin becoming the first Irish university to formalise their partnership with Vision Ireland. Through experiential learning engagements at the centre, the initiative sets out to do two things: to learn how to make transport more accessible to people with disabilities and to support the upskilling of industry professionals working to develop sustainable mobility and active travel infrastructure.

The Wayfinding Centre, developed by Vision Ireland, formerly the National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI), is a pan disability training facility that empowers people with an access need to explore public transport. It provides hands-on experience, knowledge, and the opportunity to explore all aspects of transport in a safe and controlled environment, ensuring that individuals are well-prepared to navigate public transport infrastructure independently in the real world.

Speaking at the event, TU Dublin’s Interim President, Professor John Doran, emphasised the collaborative nature of the initiative. He said: 

Increasing the use of public transport among all citizens will be crucial if Ireland is to achieve its net-zero emissions by 2050. Today’s announcement allows our researchers and students to work alongside people with disabilities to understand the challenges they encounter when using public transport, helping to ensure that every citizen has a voice as Ireland plans for a more sustainable future.

Speaking at the event, Vision Ireland Group CEO, Chris White said:

TU Dublin has been a supporter of the Wayfinding Centre from the beginning, so we are thrilled to announce this collaboration, marking a significant step forward in our mission to create an inclusive public transport environment for everyone. As the world's first accessible transport training centre, the Wayfinding Centre is uniquely positioned to address the critical issue of transport accessibility. With 1.1 million people in Ireland living with a disability, yet only around 6% using public transport daily, it is clear that access barriers prevent many from fully participating in employment, education, and society. This partnership is crucial in changing that, and we look forward to continuing to work together to remove these barriers and ensure mobility for all.

The partnership has already contributed to developing many professionals engaged in Active Travel promotion across Ireland, with 30 students recently completing a micro-credential in Planning and Design for Active Travel. The six-week course, delivered jointly by the School of Transport & Civil Engineering and the School of Architecture Building & Environment, enabled students working in local authorities and as transport consultants to engage with users of the Wayfinding Centre during their studies.

Speaking about the potential research and learning opportunities of the partnership, TU Dublin’s Sustainability Action Research and Innovation Lead, Dr Lorraine D'Arcy, said:

Vision Ireland’s Wayfinding Centre acts as a forum for discussion with designers and policymakers around the challenges people with disability experience using public transport. It is a fantastic space for discussion and co-learning, especially since three-quarters of TU Dublin students travel to campus using public transport.

Further collaborations with both Irish and International universities are currently in development, to strengthen an innovation ecosystem that TU Dublin has nurtured from the early stages.  As part of the new collaborative study, the Wayfinding Centre recently hosted a visit with the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) President Glenn Lyons and Chief Executive Officer Sue Percy. TU Dublin’s MSc in Sustainable Transport & Mobility is Ireland's only programme accredited by the CIHT, which, together with the Transport Planning Society (TPS), awards the internationally recognised Transport Planning Professional (TPP) qualification.