April 2009

As mentioned (once or twice) here previously, we had a major symposium on the 28th of April and just for those who are interested, here’s our press release from the day:

Put lecture notes online, says AHEAD

Just one in six (17%) of blind / visually impaired students go to third level

Tuesday 28th April, 2009: A symposium of education experts drafted a ‘Charter for Inclusive Teaching and Learning’ for third-level students, at a meeting today in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. The charter aims to formalise good practices that exist in many Irish universities with respect to students with disabilities and their other classmates.

Ann Heelan, who is the Director of AHEAD (the Association for Higher Education Access & Disability) the event organisers, is keen to highlight how changes that help students with disabilities can help all students:

“Big improvements can be made at third level simply by making good use of the technology available. By putting lecture notes online, students with visual and other impairments can prepare for lectures where note taking is not an option for them. At present, just one in six students1 who are blind or visually impaired make it into third level education. Universities should make study easier for people with disabilities, not because it’s the right or moral thing to do, but because such changes benefit all students. Blind students make up less than 1% of the student population, but when you consider that up to 10%2 of students have dyslexia, the application becomes much broader.”

Ann Heelan applauds many of the colleges around Ireland who have already adopted the practice of uploading lecture notes, but she says there is a lot more that colleges can do to make students feel fully part of college life.

“Predictably it is the more traditional colleges that would have the lowest rate of notes being made available online. The main reason is they have concerns about student performance, yet students learn in many different ways.”

Other provisions on the Charter for Inclusive Teaching and Learning include:

  • Flexible assessments of outcomes
  • Taking a quality assurance approach – the student as a customer with different learning needs
  • Courses to be designed to include all students, including those with disabilities


1.                   Higher Education Authority (HEA), calculated from enrolment numbers.

2.                   The Dyslexia Association of Ireland. www.dyslexia.ie

UPDATE: Presentations from the day available to download from here

I’m at the GradIreland Recruiters Conference today and getting  a great response from all the employers and careers officers I’m speaking to. This is a fantastic event for meeting people and discussing the changes in recruitment practices and getting a feel for what’s actually happening for people on the ground. It’s our second year here and is now a fixed date on my calender. Many thanks must go to GradIreland & Graduate Careers Ireland for all their support, their invitation to speak, and generally, all their fantastic work in the area of careers services.

I also found out that this is now online (it was recorded at a previous gradireland event) – if you want to hear me dishing out wise words, click here!

Two major new things of note:

A big hello to everyone who’s dropped by via Facebook! (88 fans at last count – wow! UPDATE: over 136 now! Many thanks to Linda & USI Equality) Lovely to see you all! Pull up a chair, make yourselves comfy, have a browse, and maybe a chat… 🙂

Seriously – do talk to me, otherwise this is just me talking to thin air – a little unnerving. Your feedback really helps.

The other new thing is:

* drumroll *

The new AHEAD website!

Our information officer Lorraine has been working hard on a major redesign of our website over the last while and results are now up for everyone to see. The content is going to be a work in progress in some sections, so again, all comments, questions, thoughts and so on are welcome. We want to make this as user friendly as possible, so let us know what you think!

This week is rather busy with the AHEAD symposium on Tuesday & then myself & WAM are at the GradIreland Recruiters Conference on Wednesday, but I’ll be back by the end of the week – in the meantime, feel free to peruse the archives here, or browse the AHEAD website.

to be open to change? Seriously?

I’m speaking next week at the GradIreland Recruiters Conference and while preparing for this, I spoke to a friend & colleague about how his company/ employers  had changed their approach to hiring people with disabilities. His answer – “we were open to it”. So simple, yet so essential.

Where a company is wholly, strategically, committed to an issue, making it happen becomes much simpler. When it’s in company policy, when the CEO (or equivalent) is backing or pushing the concept, the pace of change is faster. Really – we’re asking companies, employers, to open their minds. We’ll help with the rest.

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