Laura-Jane Dunne and Pat Clark, Down Syndrome Ireland CEO at the launch of Latch-On in the Republic of Ireland.
Laura-Jane Dunne and Pat Clark, Down Syndrome Ireland CEO at the launch of Latch-On in the Republic of Ireland.
5 March 2012

The University of Queensland (UQ) has taken a significant step in introducing its highly successful literacy program, Latch-On, to the world beyond Australia.

With the help of UQ's main research commercialisation company, UniQuest, the program for young adults with an intellectual disability has recently established a licencing agreement with Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI) to run Latch-On in the Republic of Ireland, marking its launch in Europe.

Latch-On (Literacy and Technology Hands-On) is an evidence-based, multimedia literacy program, which provides opportunities for adults with an intellectual disability to continue their literacy development in a post-secondary environment, using computer technology to enhance literacy, self-confidence, independence and employment opportunities.

UQ representatives met with DSI in Dublin earlier this month to launch Latch-On with the Australian Ambassador, UQ alumnus Bruce Davis; the event coinciding with a Latch-On Olympics resource for schools being distributed by the Queensland Olympic Committee.

UQ's Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences Manager of Innovation and Commercial Development, Joe McLean, is thrilled to see the outstanding program in Europe.

"Latch-On is an amazing program that has played a role in transforming the lives of Australian adults with intellectual disabilities since 1996. To see it now available in Ireland is terrific," Mr McLean said.

"Providing the benefits of Latch-On to more students also means additional licencing income will pave the way for further research and program refinement; bolstering this unique program," he said.

Latch-On is a comprehensive program that runs over two years. Research has shown it significantly improves students' literacy and self-confidence. It also helps these often withdrawn members of the community to engage more meaningfully with the world.

DSI CEO, Patrick Clarke, said DSI hoped to have more than 70 students participate in the program at 12 centres in 2012.

"The United Nations has made 2003 - 2012 the decade for literacy, and as literacy is a basic human right, we believe Irish people with Down Syndrome have been ignored for far too long when it comes to our educational system.

"Educational opportunities depend on literacy and as we know literacy is the bedrock for basic education for all," Mr Clarke said.

"Our quest is to campaign for the rights of Irish citizens with Down Syndrome. We expect great achievements from this world class program of education and sincerely hope it will enhance many people's learning skills."

Education and literacy experts, Dr Anne Jobling and Associate Professor Karen Moni from the School of Education in UQ's Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, developed Latch-On to help intellectually disabled adults reach their full potential.

We've been working with UniQuest to take Latch-On to the world because we wanted young people everywhere to have access to this invaluable program. It's extremely rewarding to now see the program available across Ireland," Associate Professor Moni said.

"Commercialisation has enabled us to finance ongoing research and development for Latch-On as well as produce resource materials and run annual training and professional development programs for the licensees," she said.

The Endeavour Foundation has a licence to offer Latch-On in Australia. In 2011, Endeavour ran the program for 36 students in Queensland and New South Wales, and is planning to offer the program to more students this year.

Media: Joe McLean (07 3365 4037, or Karen Moni (07 3365 6872,