At Ability Focus we passionately believe that the first (and most important!) step in any organisation's disability inclusion journey is to start with disability awareness training.
Ability Focus had the honour of delivering disability awareness training to staff from Longford County Council throughout 2022, finishing late September when we delivered our last programme to a hugely engaged group of Longford County Council Elected Representatives.
To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time in Ireland that a county or city council has taken the initiative to deliver customised disability awareness training to hundreds of staff from across the organisation via a live online delivery format. This was a huge undertaking and one that we all are happy to say was received very well.
Our journey with Longford County Council began in early 2022 when Ability Focus was selected by LCC to be their disability awareness training partner for the upcoming year. It was clear to us from the start that this was so much more than a 'box ticking' exercise for those who were involved in the organisation of this initiative. Proposals for customised training programmes were made, with programmes being tailored for staff based upon the relevance to their roles within the council.
Training began in mid-March and continued until mid-June. A number of customised programmes were delivered to LCC staff, ranging from 1-hour up to 4-hours in duration. Each programme focused on specific areas of relevance for each group, but all included training on the diversity within disability, respectful communication and barriers to inclusion, and all programmes were fully interactive.
Delivering disability awareness training to hundreds of staff across an extended period requires a good technical aptitude, and while at Ability Focus, we are well used to organising training, having the support of Ciaran Finn to facilitate invitations and act as the LCC 'on site' technical support ensured smooth running of each programme. Marie Kenny was our main point of contact through training and was inspirational in her drive to ensure this council wide initiative was a success.
Each group was very different to work with and it was great to see such organisation wide commitment to attendance at training. Management and senior colleagues led by example, and it was great to have Barbara Heslin, Director of Services for Community and Enterprise fully engaged, committing to the full 4-Hour Disability Awareness Training Programme with many of her colleagues. According to Barbara:
"The importance of the programme was reflected in the excellent attendance and engagement by participants. The programme was interactive, practical, insightful and enlightening. It will inform the development and updating of Longford County Council's Disability Inclusion policies.
Longford County Council focuses on people's abilities and our participation in the programme reflects our commitment to being an employer of choice and an equal opportunities employer.
The programme fully met its objective to educate participants around core aspects of disability and disability related issues, thus giving Longford County Council employees greater confidence when engaging with work colleagues, customers and service users with disabilities."
As was mentioned at the beginning of this article, after taking a break over the summer, we finished our last group in late September when we delivered training virtually to Elected Representatives in the council chambers. This was a hugely engaged group with some great questions raised and comments made. Stephen Kelly, our MD who delivered training said he left with the sense that this was a group of elected representatives who are truly committed to greater disability inclusion across Longford.
It was a great pleasure to work so closely with Marie Kenny and Ciaran Finn over the last few months. Both Marie and Ciaran were hugely committed to ensuring this disability awareness initiative was delivered successfully. It was also great to hear Marie felt the disability awareness training initiative was delivered successfully:
"Stephen, I would like to thank you and Nadia for delivering such quality training. The content was superb and even though it was delivered online all of the sessions were extremely interactive.
I know all of us in Longford County Council benefited hugely from the training and are committed to applying what we learned to our daily work and everyday lives."
Thanks to all at Longford County Council for taking the time to commit to disability awareness training and we look forward to working with you all again in the future.
If you are considering Disability Awareness Training for your organisation, please get in touch with Ability Focus by calling (01) 699 1150 or email email@example.com and we will be happy to discuss a customised programme to suit your disability training needs.
Ability Focus is the leading provider of disability awareness training in Ireland. Our training programmes are CPD accredited, IITD Endorsed and delivered by qualified trainers with over seventeen years' experience working in disability inclusion.