Updated: 27/10/17 : 10:47:51
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IT Sligo students get creative for ‘Hackathon’

Two of IT Sligo’s Creative Design students will participate in a unique ‘Hackathon’ event in Dublin next month, aimed at helping to solve the accessibility challenges for people with disabilities in Ireland’s capital city.

Darren Rooney from Grange, Co Sligo, and Shane Gilligan from Kilrush, County Clare have been selected to participate at the 'invitation-only' #HackAccessDublin three-day event, from November 10-12th.  It will take place at Google Headquarters in Dublin.

Both students are in their final year of study on IT Sligo’s Bachelor of Arts in Creative Design (Hons) course.

“The #HackAccess event, involves innovators and start-up companies from the engineering, design and technology fields being brought together to use their talents and interest in social impact to help make Dublin more accessible to people with mobility problems,” explains Shane.

The event is a collaboration between the social innovation platform Great Life Distillery and the Rehab Group, and aims to solve accessibility challenges in Dublin by encouraging the start-up community to view the accessibility challenges as entrepreneurial opportunities.

Darren and Shane were chosen to participate following a collaboration between the National Learning Network (NLN)/Rehab Group, and IT Sligo which led to the development of a smart phone app called ‘Persav’ to help disabled students to get to and from college.


Persav works by enabling the user to plan their journey easily and safely. He/she is notified of any roadworks/potential obstructions along the selected route. The user can also nominate somebody to monitor their progress. If they get lost or delayed, the app sends an alert to that nominated person.

“The goal with PerSav is to empower anyone with a disability to travel safely and independently and enjoy a greater quality of life,” says Darren Rooney, one of the IT Sligo Creative Design students involved.

The app, which is still in the development phase, was pitched to Enterprise Ireland by IT Sligo Creative Design lecturer Adrian Durcan and Kieran Hanrahan from NLN, and it won one of the ‘Smart Dublin’ awards (a scheme involving the four Dublin local authorities, which aims to help enhance city living). The prize was funding support to help develop the commercial potential of the app.

Highlighting the contribution made by the students to the overall project, Kieran Hanrahan from NLN said:  “Huge credit goes to IT Sligo and the students who developed an exceptional suite of ideas and features for the app.  Their work with students with disabilities has produced original design concepts and solutions that would do credit to experienced professionals.”

John Kelleher, Head of the Department of Computing and Creative Practices at IT Sligo said: “Nothing is quite so educational and rewarding as engaging with real-world problems. The partnership developed with the National Learning Network is more rewarding than most, helping as it does to enrich services to those with additional needs.”

"It is exciting to see students putting the knowledge and skills they have developed at IT Sligo to such effective use,” said Diarmuid Timmons, Programme Chair of the BA (Hons) in Creative Design course at IT Sligo.

“Their human-centered design approach to the development of the Persav app has resulted in a product which will make a valuable contribution to the lives of students with disabilities, enhancing their travel experience and independence. We look forward to hearing all about Shane and Darren's future endeavours at Google.”

#HackAccessDublin takes place in Dublin’s Google HQ from November 10-12th, 2017.