Today the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr Katherine Zappone launches the Universal Design Guidelines for Early Learning and Care (ELC) settings. These guidelines are an important step in making all ELC 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.
The work was undertaken by Early Childhood Ireland and Trinity Haus (Trinity College Dublin) on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design at the National Disability Authority.
This work involved:
• Reviewing national and international best practice, research and guidance in the 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.
These guidelines will also be useful for built environment design professionals in private and public sectors working on the design of new build and retrofitting of Early Learning and Care settings.
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.”