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Disability Equality Specialist Support Agency

About Us

Our Purpose

Our purpose is to create a society where everyone with lived experience of disability and their families can participate equally as full citizens.



Our vision is that the community & voluntary sector will be inclusive of disabled people, creating opportunities for their full and equal participation in society.



Our mission is to pursue the active involvement and full participation of people with disabilities in society by delivering strategic capacity building supports to the community & voluntary sector and to disabled people and their families.


Our Story

Established in 2001 DESSA is a national community development organisation. DESSA provides a wide range of supports, information, advocacy and technical guidance to the community & voluntary sector in relation to disability and social inclusion.

DESSA has three areas of action - advocacy, mainstreaming participation and supporting families - within which support is given to individuals, families and community & voluntary organisations.

Since 2003 DESSA has been facilitating direct and local contact between community & voluntary organisations and disabled members of their communities and has developed and delivered innovative programmes such as the Childcare Inclusion Programme, the Community Inclusion Initiative, Steps to Mainstreaming Participation Framework and the Supporting Families Social Inclusion Strategy, and more recently, Local Area Co-ordination in Leitrim. 

Since 2014 DESSA has actively participated in the HSE Transforming Lives programme of reform of disability services and is a member of Working Group 3 tasked with developing a participation framework for disabled people’s engagement in the design and delivery of services.

DESSA is unique in developing disability specific work within a community development context by supporting people with disabilities and their families, in accessing a range of mainstream supports and services at a local community level, so they can empower themselves to make choices and have control over their own lives.  Building the capacity of community organisations to include disabled people is central to their social inclusion remit.