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A program developed by The University of Queensland to improve literacy skills has become a nationally recognised tertiary qualification for young adults with an intellectual disability.

Latch-On (Literacy and Technology Hands-On) has been accredited as a Certificate II in Literacy and Technology by the Queensland Department of Education and Training. The multimedia-based program was developed by Associate Professor Karen Moni and Dr Anne Jobling in UQ’s School of Education.

UniQuest, which enables the University’s transfer of knowledge into commercial and community ventures, licensed Latch-On to Endeavour Foundation in 2004 and extended the agreement earlier this year.

Endeavour will offer the Certificate II to all Latch-On students in 2011.

UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson, said the accreditation was a valuable endorsement of the research underpinning the program.

“The accreditation acknowledges the impact that university partnerships have on improving lives for a wide community spectrum, not just business and industry sectors,” he said.

“Without this program, many of these young people would fall through the post-school educational gap and miss out on this opportunity to develop their potential.

“UniQuest has helped the University make this inspirational and practical program more accessible to Australian families, and to see Latch-On gain formal recognition is really satisfying. We congratulate Endeavour on this achievement.”

General Manager Disability Services Operations and Community Engagement, Gail Davidson, said the long-awaited outcome formally acknowledged that Latch-On directly improves literacy.

“Latch-On is unique in that it delivers literacy and numeracy classes which combine traditional teaching styles and technology instruction. It also delivers training in health and fitness,” Ms Davidson said.

“Currently, 24 students with an intellectual disability are being empowered by computer technology to enhance literacy, self-confidence, independence and work placement opportunities.

“Endeavour has had overwhelming support and demand for the expansion of the program, which is why we will be introducing it to Sydney in 2011.”

Latch-On, which has also been licensed to Vancouver’s North Island College and Canada’s Down Syndrome Research Foundation, is just one example of innovative research that UniQuest has commercialised from the social and behavioural sciences.