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The University of Queensland (UQ) has exported its successful literacy program for young adults with an intellectual disability to Down Syndrome Ireland (DSI).

As UQ’s main research commercialisation company, UniQuest today announced the licensing agreement with DSI to runLatch-On (Literacy and Technology Hands-On) in the Republic of Ireland, marking Latch-On’s launch in Europe.

Latch-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 and UniQuest representatives met with DSI in Dublin earlier this month to launch Latch-On with the Australian Ambassador, UQ alumnus Bruce Davis.

The launch in 2012 coincides with a Latch-On Olympics resource for schools being distributed by the Queensland Olympic Council.

UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson said the licensing agreement was a significant step in introducing the highly successful Latch-On program to the world beyond Australia.

“Latch-On is an important program that has been transforming the lives of Australian adults with intellectual disabilities for more than a decade,” said Mr Henderson.

“UniQuest’s help with packaging and promoting Latch-On for dissemination beyond university walls has made it possible for this unique, evidence-based program to be available world-wide, with licensing income funding further research and program refinement.

“We are delighted to see Latch-on open up new horizons for Down Syndrome Ireland’s clients,” 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 It also helps these often withdrawn members of the community to engage more meaningfully with the world.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 programme 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.

“Anne and I created Latch-On to help intellectually disabled adults reach their full potential,” said Associate Professor Moni.

“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.

“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.