DCU has become the first Irish university to introduce the JAM card, a card that helps people with disabilities to let someone know they need ‘just a minute’ without needing to explain why.
Launched in Ireland last year, the Belfast-based card by the NOW Group has until now only been recognised by public transport bodies. The purpose is to make it easier for commuters with disabilities to discreetly communicate that they have a condition and that they may need more time to complete a task.
The Higher Education Authority estimates that around 10.5% of all students entering Irish Higher Education in 2017-18 had disabilities, compared to less than 1% in 1994.
“The condition could be anything from a learning difficulty, intellectual disability, to autism. The card could be used while getting a book out of the library, explaining a problem to a staff member, or getting a form from the registry” said Claire Bohan, director of Student Support and Development at DCU.
“The reaction from the students has been quiet. The Neurodivergent society of DCU already uses the card, but not too many other students have responded yet” said Bohan.
When asked if students without disabilities can use the card, Bohan said, “In theory, I’m not going to ask you what disability you have as proof. Mental health is also a disability, so we could expect students with depression to use the card.”
“Even if you’re just having a bad day, the card can be used to alert those around you that you need some time and space.” she said.
The JAM card has been advertised on the college campus, website, and through email. However, details of what the card does may still be unclear to many students.
“I’ve been hearing about the JAM card lately, but I have no access to information on what it does unless I Google it myself” said Ala Buisir, an MA Journalism student at DCU who has dyslexia.
Asked if she’ll be using the card, she said, “I think the card is a great idea. Quite often I find myself in situations where I have to explain to people that I have dyslexia and might take more time to read. I’d much rather use the card and skip the explanation.”
“The fact that I also have anxiety means that I’ll find myself using the card more often. Ideally, I’d like people to be understanding without needing a card to warrant it” she said.
The card is available at the Disability & Learning Support Office, through the Autism-Friendly Coordinator and at the Student Advice Centres on the Glasnevin and St Patrick’s campuses. A free mobile app can also be downloaded at jamcard.org.