Dundalk Institute of Technology have responded to criticisms that they have been slow to act to provide accessible toilet and changing facilities to students with disabilities, saying they regret inconvenience and undue stress caused to their students.
The college say that the new facilities, for which a tender process is underway, should be available to students from September this year, as the 2020/21 academic year begins.
Earlier on Wednesday, LouthNow.ie reported that a student – Conor Byrne, from Clogherhead, – who studies English and Politics and is a wheelchair user who requires special assistance to use toilet facilities, has been waiting for the new facility to be built, sating he was told last summer that such a facility would be ready by November 2019.
“I was told last summer that DKIT would have to build a special bathroom for my needs. This ultimately made me decide that this was the college for me. They promised that this would be done by Halloween but I would have to temporarily have to leave the campus to use the nearby facilities in O’Fiach College,” Conor said.
“The communication has been very disappointing from College management. I have now been told that the dates had been put back several time, with the tender only gone recently. This process takes anything from 6-8 weeks. In reality they won’t be anything in place by the time I finish my first year.”
After being contacted by LouthNow.ie for comment, a spokesperson for DkIT offered this response. “Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT) commenced a process for constructing a purpose-built Fully Accessible Changing Facility on campus to meet the growing needs of its diverse cohort of students last summer.
“The necessary funding, location and architectural services have been secured to deliver this project and suitable plans have been drawn up. The works are currently under public tender and the tender return is scheduled for April 1 2020. It is envisaged that the facility will be available to students in the new academic year [on] September 1 2020.
“During the interim period, the Institute has worked in partnership O’Fiaich Institute of Further Education to accommodate student needs while the facility is being constructed on campus,” the spokesperson said.
“DkIT recognises that these are temporary arrangements and regrets any inconvenience and undue stress caused to our students. We continue to offer supports via our Disability Office. Management within the Institute are committed to ensuring that the on-campus Accessible Changing Facility will be made available to DkIT both students and visitors in September 2020.”