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.