In 1980 the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland founded Ability Enterprises with the motto /logo /ethos "Judge by Ability, not Disability" and modern workshops were installed. Training was provided in electric motor rewinding and repairs. Among the customers were some of the largest firms in Mayo and neighbouring counties, including Halal, Thermo King, Western Pride and ROADSTONE. Members & volunteers fundraised and many were involved in leisure activities at the centre
The woodturning workshop setup produced lamps, wooden clocks, standard lamps, bowls & dishes, cabinets, coffee tables and stools. The crafts workshop section created fabric paintings, tablecloths, cushion covers, chair covers, velvet footstools, lampshades, soft toys and illuminated pictures.
Ability Enterprises, in collaboration with the National Rehabilitation Board (N.R.B. now disbanded), commenced training in Electrodynamics & Electric Motor Rewinds. AnCO (now disbanded and replaced by FÁS) recognised this course. This lead to 6-month work placements of AnCO apprentices & staff in the Ballindine centre. The trainees learned all aspects of determining faults, rewinding coils to reassembly & motor testing. This was open to able-bodied & disabled trainees.
In the years 1987/88, metalwork courses began in Ability Enterprises, which involved - welding, soldering & Intro to Design Fabrication. The students progressed to the manufacture of hand controls & disabled aids, tools, instruments, grab rails, outdoor equipment and gates. As well as metalwork courses, additional classes in Mathematics and Technical Drawing skills were introduced on the site. The woodturning & woodwork courses were taught by the tutor Thomas Naughton.
At this stage, Ability Enterprises was running a 2-year National Rehabilitation Board (NRB) Certified Training programme in Office Administration up to Office Management level. Modules of the course included shorthand, filing, telephone skills, word-processing, manual payroll & accounts. Students were referred from NRB for Vocational Training programmes. Any person in receipt of DPMA (Disabled Persons Maintenance Allowance) received an allowance and training was subsided by capitation grants from Health Board & DDAI fundraising activities. The students came from all 26 counties, using public and private transport to the centre. Many were residential and stayed on campus.
The National Rehabilitation Board (NRB) was disbanded in 2000 and services regarding education, training and employment of people with disabilities were mainstreamed. Vocational training & employment was now the responsibility of FÁS, with the Health Board responsible for rehabilitative training, and Comhairle responsible for providing information and advocacy in regards to social services.
In 1988, Ability Enterprises enrolled in the E.U. STAR Programme, a teleworking project. Along with NRB, UCG (now NUIG, National University of Ireland Galway), Work Research Centre, Dublin and Telecom Eireann (now Eircom) they prepared plans to run a Telecommunications module in Ballindine. The aim was that Ballindine would become an experimental Telework Service Centre. The centre would be using the state of the art technology, which would give online connection to other sites in Dublin & Galway. The necessary telecommunications equipment was acquired through funding under European Regional Funds to establish this pilot Telework Service Centre. The telework services included data entry, word processing, desktop publishing, business applications, database services and electronic transfer of messages & data.
Derek Farrell began work in the Dublin office of the DDAI in 1988. A year later following the death of Martin Donoghue he was appointed General Secretary of the organisation. Derek brought an international dimension to the DDAI. In 1990, the Disabled Drivers Association became full members of Mobility International (MI), whose headquarters was in Brussels. He looked towards Europe, sourced European Social Funding and made the best possible use of these new resources in developing courses and acquiring equipment, which would benefit the DDAI and Ability Enterprises.