NCBI Staff Profile
JP Corcoran has worked with the NCBI for the past seven years, six of those spent in Fundraising. There he organised events and challenges in Ireland and abroad which helped generate funds to support the delivery of NCBI’s services. It was JP who launched NCBI’s first Sky Dive Day and National Table Quiz, both highly successful events which are being run out again this year. While he loved his role he had a nagging idea that he might like to try his hand in Technology, a natural fit for him given he has a Masters in Environmental Science and spent two years in the Environmental Research Lab in Trinity.
JP went back to college to complete a course in IT Teacher Training and spent 2 years volunteering at IT workshops run by NCBI in Dun Laoghaire. There he supported service-users using various assistive technologies such as screen magnifiers and screen readers to enable them to carry out day to day tasks that people with sight often take for granted. And so, the big change was made and now the affable Dub is part of NCBI’s new Technology specialist Support Team, established in January of this year, where he works alongside Rehabilitation Centre Manager / Technology Specialist Team Lead, Stuart Lawler, Chief Technical Support Officer Paul Traynor and Rehabilitation Centre Technical Support Officer, Robert Leonard, under the direction and guidance of NCBI’s National Services Manager, Gerard Byrne.
It is plain to see that JP is very comfortable in his new role and relishes it. He speaks with the passion of the converted when he when he talks about how technology can enable someone with sight loss to carry out everyday tasks such as accessing the internet, booking flights, and even reading printed items such as books, newspapers, magazines or mail. In his words, “Technology is the equaliser that can remove barriers to independence”. “To look at it one way, for people with full sight technology can make things easier, but for the sight loss community whom we serve; technology can actually make things possible”.
The remit for NCBI’s Technology Specialist Team is broad and hugely comprehensive .The team has been tasked with specific areas that focus around working with NCBI’s employment service, Library and Media Centre and Rehabilitation Training Centre. JP, together with the team, is involved in supporting people in education and employment; be it someone in employment or someone wishing to seek employment in the future. He is passionate about the need for people to be given the opportunities to work, saying that the contributions people can make should be fostered and heralded.
“Current figures indicate that 84% of people with sight loss of working age are unemployed, which is clearly unacceptable. One of the strategic goals of the tech specialist team is to reduce this level of unemployment. Technology is the gateway for many to live the lives they want, it offers huge autonomy and opportunities”.
“I feel that NCBI is continuing to break new ground for our service users and we are the conduit for them in many ways, they look to us for keeping up to speed with new advances in technology so it is a hectic, busy working environment for us but we thrive on it. We see first-hand how people get to grips with assistive technology and the improvement it helps to make in their lives”.
“We run a 12-week Fundamentals in Assistive Technology Course which is designed to give parents and resource teachers an overview of assistive technologies used by people with impaired vision. We offer full assistive technology training, advice and support to people with sight loss in the education sector. Often alongside our dedicated team of IT trainers , we carry out workplace IT assessments, assistive technology training and career workshops in conjunction with NCBI’s employment advisor”.
Another new innovation by NCBI is that of the Virtual Technology Club which JP explains is about facilitating groups of people to come together and talk about technology, share and solve
problems and hear from experts who discuss everything from the latest tech gadgets to some of the most basic daily living aids.
JP is also involved with Tech News, the quarterly technology e-newsletter which serves to keep people up to date with the latest technology trends and products for people with sight loss, listen to technology podcasts and stay informed about upcoming technology events and much more.
” We also regularly publish technology podcasts delivered in the main by Stuart”.
“It’s a busy fast paced job” smiles JP “but I love it. Seeing first-hand the transformative role technology can play towards and throughout a person’s journey in education and employment is wonderful and it’s incredibly diverse and rewarding”.
“I feel so lucky to be surrounded by people who are so enthusiastic about and interested in their jobs”.
Image: JP is pictured with Martin Kelly from Newbridge