October 2009

Next Tuesday, November 3rd,  AHEAD is launching a Charter on Inclusive Teaching in Learning. It’s endorsed by Irish Universities Association,  the National Access Office, the Irish Universities Quality Board, the Teachers Union of Ireland and the Disability Advisors Working Network and  Access Officers.

It’s a great achievement and one I’m rather excited about. We launched Good Practice Guidelines in 2008 and last April we held a Symposium on Inclusive Teaching and Learning based on the guidelines, at which we were trying to begin the process which has resulted in this Charter.  No one is going to read Good Practice Guidelines (it’s a very substantial 144 page book) from start to finish and that was never the idea. It was created as a reference point, a drop in document.  The Charter is the next step.

The aim of the Charter is to be a simple, outline of the key points of good practice in relation to inclusive teaching and learning. It is aimed at including disabled students in higher education, but honestly, the vast majority of the points make for better teaching for all students. Hopefully it will mean that pockets of excellence in teaching will be come the standard, the norm, rather than the rarity. Best of all, changing teaching practices doesn’t have to cost.

I’ll post the link to the charter and press release on Tuesday.

Dear Students with AD/HD,

A new student support group has been organised for AD/HD college students. Assistance was provided from other sources; however, the group was created largely by AD/HD students for AD/HD students.
The group will meet for the first time on the 26th October 2009, up stairs in Doyle’s Pub on College Street, Dublin 2, at 7pm. Future meetings will be held on the last Monday of every month at the same time and location.

Developing awareness and understanding of AD/HD and it’s implications as a student and beyond, is key to managing AD/HD effectively. This is achieved by learning about the condition, and also socialising with other student who face the same challenges.

Group meetings will be informal events. Participation, and/ or involvement, in the organising of meeting and running of the group, is up to the members. Topics, issues, format, set up, etc… is flexible; we would like everyone to get involved in different aspects of the group. Input from everyone is welcome, but not required.

We will also have a bit of fun along the way! 🙂
We look forward to seeing you there,

Kate and Stiofan
Contact: adhdstudents@hotmail.com

View this document on Scribd

Myself and John Paul from WAM will be at the Graduate Careers Fair in the RDS all day tomorrow. It starts at 11 and runs till 5 and you can check out their site here

More importantly, at 3:30 I’ll be giving a short seminar which will cover all the extra aspects of jobseeking that are useful for graduates and students with disabilities to know: disclosure, grants and funding, legislation and the availability of other projects and supports. It’s the ideal time to get an overview of things that you should consider if you are a graduate with a disability, or for that matter, someone who is supporting/ advising a graduate with a disability. All the matierial is taken from Get Ready for Work, so it really is an overview of the extra stuff – I won’t be going near CVs, interview skills, what job you should do, or anything like that, because that’s all covered by others whose speciality it is. For more information about the timetable of seminars you can check here.

Obviously, we’ll be at the stand all day to answer any questions and would be very happy to see you, but I would encourage you to drop along to the seminar, it’s just a half an hour and could answer many of your questions in a more useful way.

As I’ve said before, events like this are what you make of them, and I’ve outlined some suggestions here, and so have GradIreland, here.

If you’re there tomorrow, do drop by, and do enjoy the day. Opportunities can be exciting and challenging, and that can be something to relish and enjoy!

I’m always reminding my colleagues that this blog isn’t just for me, it’s for them, and for you too. So this post was written by John-Paul, (WAM Research Officer) and comments will be answered by him too!


The following quote got me thinking about what exactly is the aim of our education system;

‘…the idea of education being the key to economic growth is no more than a myth. Of course, both individually and nationally, basic numeracy and literacy are essential for workers in a strong economy, but once they are achieved, which is the case by the age of eleven for most of the populations of the developed world, then, incredibly, there is absolutely no evidence that a nation’s economic growth benefits from further investment in education’ (James 2007:296).

The statement is taken from Oliver James’ book Affluenza which highlights how the line between needs and wants is becoming increasingly blurred in societies where status is linked to occupation and wealth. But this specific statement got me thinking; what exactly is the purpose of education? In other words, what is the ultimate goal for our third level education system? Is it to supply skilled, productive profit-makers, create socially and politically aware citizens, or simply to produce people who are content pursuing careers of interest?

The moral of the story usually goes something like; investment in education leads to more students attending third level – producing an increased number of qualified graduates – resulting in a strong, thriving economy and therefore one tiny smiling island. James, however, would ask for the evidence.

Education and economy have always been linked but the recent economic boom and now bust have highlighted the increasing influence they have on each other. So much so that it could be argued a large proportion of college going students chose their courses based on the likelihood of well-paid jobs at the end. Two examples further illustrate this point:

  1. The bursting of the dot-com bubble in the early noughties (hate that word but I had no choice) resulted in a decrease in the number of students choosing to take up IT/Computer related subjects at third level.
  2. The 2009 CAO application process saw a collapse in points for courses linked to the property market. This may be a consequence of students shying away from these courses due to perceived poor career prospects. In fact first preference for property-related courses was down 26% from 2008 CAO applications. Other notable statistics include;
  • architecture in UCD down 20 points, in UL down 30 points
  • construction management in DIT down 55 points
  • property economics in DIT down 50 points
  • civil engineering in UCD down 60 points (Irish Times, August 17th 2009)

Does course choice on those CAO forms come down to a battle between interests/passions and money?

Being a researcher myself, I would love to see research conducted which investigated why CAO applicants chose their first preference. Or why they chose to go to college at all. The results may provide a glimpse at what those being educated think education is for. An important thing in my book.

What do you think? What is the purpose of third level education?

Think back…why did you go for that choice when applying on the CAO form? Or, more generally, why did you choose to go to college at all?

A substantial part of all of AHEAD’s work  is trying to make sure that our information/ knowledge gets to the people who can use it to make positive changes – in essence lobbying. Where possible, I’ll try to keep you updated on some of the meetings I or my colleagues have had. Ann Heelan, my boss, and our director sent on this feedback from a recent meeting she had.

“AHEAD, Brendan Goldsmith (Chair of AHEAD’s Board of Directors) and Ann Heelan (Director of AHEAD) met with Minister of State for Equality, Disability and Mental Health John Moloney, Brian Power (Principal Officer, Higher Education-Equity of Access Section , Department of Education and Science (DES) ), and  Leo Sheedy (Assistant Principal, Employment and Training Supports for People with Disabilities Section, Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment (DETE) ) to update the minister on inequalities experienced by students with disabilities in making the change from second level education to higher education and on to work.

Issues discussed included

  • the need to improve the learning experience of second level students with visual impairments and dyslexia by providing them with alternative textbooks, electronic books in particular.
  • the need to ensure children with disability who need technology to learn, to read materials etc are taught how to use it and are provided with the correct hardware and software to enable them to learn in a way comparable with other children
  • the barriers for students with disability in the application screening system for primary school teaching
  • the need to base the FÁS system of workplace grants on reasonable accommodations, the current system favours those who need equipment yet ignores those who need transport or interpreters to access and maintain employment.

The Minister is committed to seeing just how he can bring about improvements to these areas, in particular he is interested in following up with the main publishers for school textbooks just how they can be made available electronically. AHEAD will be  following  up on these issues with the Minister and the DES and DETE departments.”

Working with the publishers of school textbooks is a a low/ no cost measure that is theoretically very possible. Should all this feedback be taken on board, it has the potential to make a significant differences. Watch this space!

I’ve written before about Asperger’s and working, and today I saw this pop into my feedreader (feedreaders allow you to subscribe to blogs so that you can read them all in one place). A blogger I thoroughly enjoy reading, Penelope writes about being someone with Asperger’s syndrome, working, running a very successful business.  She’s putting together a series this week and if you check back you’ll see each of her posts.  Brazen Careerist, the business she founded is also very interesting – it is described as “a career management tool for next-generation professionals” and is also worth a look if you want to see one of the ways career management, recruitment and networking are developing.

Anyway, I thought the series she’s writing at the moment  might be of interest to some readers.


The other posts of this series

30 September 2009

29th October 2009

And slightly related – this post talks about how we can learn from people with autism or aspergers syndrome when it comes to developing social skills.

I tried to preface this information, but honestly, it speaks for itself. Mostly, I wanted to make sure that people are aware of the valuable support provided by the Dublin Leader Advocacy Service.


The Dublin Leader Advocacy Service is a free, confidential advocacy service hosted by Greater Dublin Independent Living and funded by the Citizens Information Board.

It is an advocacy service for people who use Personal Assistance services or those who wish to experience independent living who have physical and sensory disabilities and live in Dublin City and County.

What an advocate can do

¨      Support you in making decisions and applications for services and entitlements including health, housing, education, equipment etc.

¨      Assist you make appeals to decisions you have received.

¨      Assist you to find out information for you from agencies and government departments

¨      Assist you to tell other people what you want – this could be a family member, your Personal Assistant, staff members, social workers, health workers, relatives, or anyone else.

¨      Enable you to take part in meetings and support you to speak for yourself if you wish.

Your Advocate will always respect your views, help and support you wherever necessary and never collude with other agencies.

The service is not a legal or befriending service and is not a permanent service. It will refer users to other agencies where appropriate and with their agreement.

For further information on working with an advocate contact :

Suzy Byrne

Dublin Leader Advocacy Service

Phone:- 01 8726843

Email:- dlas@eircom.net

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