Sense-Ability Project

The Sense-Ability team
From left to right: Mr Kieran Shaughnessy (Executive Librarian, Roscommon Library Services), Ms Sandra Turner (County Librarian, Roscommon Library Services), Councillor Tom Crosby (Cathaoirleach, Roscommon Country Library), Dr. Dorothy Armstrong (occupational Therapy consultant to the project), Kieran Moylan (Libraries Development, Department of Rural and Community Development)

The Sense-Ability Project was conducted across three county library services – Leitrim, Sligo and
Roscommon. The purpose of the project was to establish a library based programme of services and spaces which would be inclusive of neurodiverse people which included toys and other equipment that could be borrowed by service users. It was commenced in January 2021 and I worked part-time as the ‘resident Occupational Therapist’ on this project till January 2022. My work in this project included:

  • A program of training with library and management staff in relation to inclusive practice with neurodiverse service users.
  • Recommendations in relation to sensory spaces in the libraries, sourcing prices and overseeing the construction of sensory rooms and sensory pods for each county branch library.
  • Recommendations on ‘behind the counter’ sensory tools for each library and how they could be used.
  • Researching, devising, pricing and sourcing toys and equipment to be included in the new lending collection.
  • Writing the descriptors for all the items and helping to design the brochure to accompany the lending collection.
  • Organising the speakers and publication materials for the launch of the project via a series of six public webinars relating to neurodiversity which were conducted by experts in their fields.
  • Delivering a series of instructional videos for the public on how to use items within the collection.
  • Writing a final report on the project for the funders which included a budget for the ongoing maintenance and execution of the project.

This project was jointly funded by Minister Heather Humphreys’s Department (Minister of Justice, Social Protection, Community and Rural Development) under the dormant account fund and also by the three local authorities of Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo. The SenseAbility Project was nominated for 2022 Local Government Awards supported by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.