August 2009

Career Opportunity: Knight Required

Are you courageous, honourable
And chivalrous?
Do you enjoy wearing metal suits
And enjoy being called Sir?
Then this could be the job for you.

Your duties will include
Wielding a sword, jousting
And clanking about.

Preference will be given
To those candidates
Who come equipped
With their own warhorse and squire.

If you think you’ve got what it takes
Turn up for an interview
And show us what you can do.

NB Candidates will be left
To fight it out amongst themselves.
Castle Management accepts no responsibility
For loss of life or limb.

Bernard Young

(this was read out at a meeting I was at recently and provided us with a brief but much needed laughter break, so I thought I’d share it)


Think2act conferences

The team running the fantastic (from everything I‘ve heard anyway!) think2act conference is back. There’s another one on in NCI on the 31st August. Registration is now open and it’s well worth a look. For €25 it could really make a difference to you – and appears to have for the people attending. I’m very much looking forward to getting an insight into how it works myself (I’m not taking one of the places, just have kindly been invited to come along), and seeing if there’s lessons we can take from it. However, there’s not many places left, so get going and register!

NCI Career Bootcamp

NCI are following the think2act conference with a free week long career bootcamp This is another excellent opportunity to build your skills, make sure you’re doing everything you could be. Have a look at the site, see if any of it is of interest to you and drop in!

On the 9th September there is an information workshop on Dublin City Council’s new online accessibility consultation tool: I’ve written about this before, but unfortunately, I can’t be there because I’ll be at this in Slovenia.

Interested in learning more about the Equal Status Act?

Access to Equality: A Training Course on the Equal Status Acts is being run in UCD by UCD & ICCL. If you’re interested in attending, have a look at the above link and remember closing date for applications is the 11th September.

NUIG Public Lecture in the Centre for Disability Law & Policy

On 11th September in NUIG Professor Oddny Arnardottir, Reykjavik University, Iceland, Co-Author of ‘ The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – European and Scandinavian Perspectives’.

will be speaking on: ‘What does Equality Mean for Persons with Disabilities’ Lessons from the new UN Treaty on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’.

All are Welcome. Podcasts from the event will be available afterwards at

Flyer with more information available here

NDA event

On the 23rd September the NDA are hosting a conference on Safe Evacuation for All. “This event will provide practical advice on planning for the safe evacuation of all building users, including people with disabilities. There will be a number of interesting case studies showing how Irish organisations are dealing with evacuation planning. The conference fee (including lunch and refreshments) will be €50 per person, with a concession rate of €40 for people with disabilities, staff of disability representative organisations, IOSH members and other affiliated bodies.”

As many of you will have seen, as part of the government’s strategy of labour activation, college places are being made available for people to go back to college and upskill. Information on these places is here, here, here, here, here, here and here (links are to newspaper articles, Department of Education website, HEA website)

There’s one significant problem: no funding is being made available for supports for accommodations which some people with disabilities may require so that they can access these courses.

“The new part time study places for unemployed graduates outlined in today’s Irish Times has made absolutely no provision for unemployed graduates with a disability…Students with disabilities on full time courses can avail of a Fund for Students with Disabilities operated by the National Access Office within the HEA…However, as this fund is not open to disabled graduates applying to this part time scheme, then if they need supports to deal with their disability then they are stuck, they are excluded from taking part.

Why should a graduate with a disability be ineligible for funding for vital supports to do a course just because he/she is studying part time? this is discrimination and excludes graduates with disabilities from this scheme and the opportunities accruing.”

The full statement from AHEAD on this is available here. It was referenced in the Independent on Wednesday 5th August.

It is being left to the institutions to fulfill their obligations under the Equal Status Act, without any extra funding. So in essence, if you are an unemployed person who meets the requirements to access these ‘free’ courses, but you happen to have a disability which requires support, you will have to work with the institution to ensure that those supports are made available (and hope that the supports constitute a reasonable accomodation of nominal cost). Even though this is a government led labour activation measure, they are not going to do anything to help you, or the institution, to take up their intiative.

If you google AHEAD you will find at least 2 of us. One in America and one in Ireland. Actually set up independently of each other, and quite different in their operational setup, the organisations do stay in touch.

The main link up is their annual conference. Our director (my boss!) Ann Heelan, tries to get to this whenever possible, but it is a week long, intensive conference held somewhere in the US every year so it definitely isn’t an annual trek for anyone in the office. This year, it was on in Louisville, Kentucky and Ann came back exhausted, but with some new ideas and information and great contacts, and we wanted to share that with you.

The two areas that were of most interest to us were on accessible matierials and chronic illness.

Beth Case and Roseanna Davidson of Texas Tech University gave the detailed presentations on accessible matierials and her information is well worth reading. (Go to Block 5.2) (also available directly here) The presentations and handouts show how to make the following accessible: distance learning, audio, video, websites, chatrooms, powerpoint,  pdfs, online quizzes and tests, online content.

The other really interesting session Ann attended was “Riding a Tightrope: University Policies vs. Needs of Students with Chronic Illness” Given that this group is still under-represented amongst students with disabilities, information developed from experience, on how to accomodate students with chronic illness is very useful, not just for universities or the further education sector, but also for employers. You can find the presentations here (go to Block 1.5)

Obviously there were many many more presentations which may be of use or interest, but unfortunately Ann couldn’t be in more than one place at once! Have a rummage through the site and you’ll find plenty to look at, all based on the theme of “AHEAD 2009 Global Access: Opening a World of Opportunity”. It’s well worth a look, and it’s always good to see what’s happening elsewhere in the world.