November 2009

… was a great success! I’m very happy with how the event went and loved the Science Gallery as a venue. If you’ve just stopped by here today for the first time, hello and thank you!

I’m off to the ERA campaign conference today, so notes from last night won’t go up until tonight/ tomorrow, but please do feel free to leave any feedback or further comments from last night below, and do come back and let me know if I’ve summarised the discussion properly!

If you’re interested in a copy of the publication (“Demystifying Disability in the Workplace”) that was launched last night by the very entertaining Senator David Norris, please drop me an email at getahead AT with your contact details.

This evening, in the Science Gallery in Trinity College Dublin, from 6pm, we have an event that I’ve been organising and one which is a little different for us, being much shorter than our regular conferences and as an evening event, will hopefully suit some more people. I’m looking forward to seeing how the format unfolds, to using the Science Gallery as a venue and most importantly, to what we’re actually doing and seeing how it’s received.

The point of the event is twofold. We want to launch WAM’s new publication, “Demystifying Disability in the Workplace”, which Senator David Norris has kindly agreed to do. And, we want to use the time to discuss one of the more confusing elements of disability in the workplace – reasonable accommodations.

The publication is born out of WAM’s experiences over the last 4 years, and it’s been informed by what managers and employers have told us, by what we’ve learnt from them and from graduates in the workplace. The primary motivation for the booklet is to provided practical guidelines for organisations on tackling everyday issues that arise in the recruitment and management of people with disabilities. It is in tended as an instrument for managers, supervisors and related personnel.  We hope that sharing that learning will mean that the same situations don’t keep coming up time and time again, so that we can progress in our ultimate aim, which is to see more and more people with disabilities having full access to and participation in an inclusive workforce.

The evening kicks off at 6, there’ll be refreshments available, and we’ll be done by 7:30 at the latest (but you can stay a little longer too!) If you want to come and can’t stay, do drop in, say hello and pick up a copy of the book. There’s not much point in writing about demystifying disability in the workplace, and having the book only sitting in our workplace! Either way, we’d love to see you.

This Tuesday evening (17th November) I’ll be in Cork (actually I’ll be there all day, at the Better Options fair in the morning) but the evening’s event is something different. Myself and the USI Equality Officer (Linda) and Emily (the Disability Rights Officer) have been talking about how to ensure that we hear what is going on for students with disabilities on the ground, in colleges. So USI has organised a series of events for different groups, taking place all around the country over the next four months. The first one is in Cork, tomorrow evening, 6pm in UCC. I’m very much looking forward to it, and looking forward to hearing what people have to say.

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AHEAD Launch & Learn event, Monday 23rd November, 6pm, Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin

This short evening event will offer the chance to pick up our latest publication “Demystifying Disability in the Workplace” which will be launched by Senator David Norris and to help further the development of learning around reasonable accommodations in the workplace. We would be delighted if you would note the date in your diary, and share this information with anyone you think may be interested (for example, employers, hr personnel, managers, disability officers, careers officers, students and graduates with disabilities).

For further information, watch this space! (or of course you can email me) If you’d like to come, I’d appreciate if you could let me know, so that I can keep an eye on numbers.

This morning AHEAD will launch the Charter on Inclusive Teaching and Learning. You can download a copy here (see link at end of page)

Here’s our statement released last night:

Charter on Inclusive Teaching and Learning seeks to create a more equal world for students with disabilities

The Charter of Inclusive Teaching and Learning is being launched by Dr. Mary Liz Trant of the HEA on 3rd November 2009 in the Clarence Hotel. Produced by AHEAD (the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability) the Charter is endorsed by the 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 .

The Charter lays out the minimum components required for inclusive education, in all aspects of teaching and learning in higher education institutions. It strives to describe and encourage the good practices that should be consistently delivered across all third level education to all students, as opposed to the current situation where individuals are setting excellent examples of such practice, in patches across the country.

These practices are proven to work, not only for students with disabilities, but for all students.  Applications from students with disabilities and specific learning difficulties to higher education institutions are surging, with an increase up of 25% each year.  There are now over 4,000 students with disabilities studying in higher education and these students can learn and want to learn but they learn differently, for example by using e-books and other technology to read and write.

Ann Heelan, Director of AHEAD said “The biggest barrier to making changes stick is stereotypical assumptions by some staff who fail to see the potential behind the disability or appreciate the need to alter the way they teach.   The challenge for institutions is to change how they operate so they have the capacity to meet the different learning requirements of a diverse group of students. In the current economic climate this approach improves the quality of our teaching but has little or no additional costs.”