January 2010

This survey is due in by this evening. Enter and you’ll be in with a chance to win an ipod!

And tonight, I’m speaking at this event “Supporting Students with Disabilities in a Recession” and hope to see you there.

Following on from yesterday’s post on our Mental Wellbeing conference, I wanted to point out that DCU in conjunction with Amnesty International is conducting a study: ‘Exploring the experience of discrimination as reported by people with mental health difficulties’ You can find out more here

Access for All is a four part Sound and Vision funded series that looks at the concerns of the disabled community in Dublin. Each episode took up a particular issue from the viewpoint of people with disabilities. The aim of the series was to facilitate individuals and the wider disabled community to become more visible through the process of making the series. It’s now available online here

AHEAD has a youtube channel where we’ve uploaded our information & training dvds and also anything we’ve managed to film over the last few years. You can find it here. Many are available with subtitling and signlanguage interpretation from us and I’ll try to upload those versions as well.

I use facebook to post links, stories of interest etc most of the time, but if you’re not a user of facebook, I’ll try to link some of them here, once a week. If you are on facebook, but haven’t signed up to the page, do!

For commentary, personal perspectives, information, and entertainment, I’m a huge fan of BBC Ouch. It’s something a little different for your weekend!

Yesterday in Dublin Castle WAM hosted a conference: “Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace: Minding your own business” It was a very interesting morning, with Lucy Fallon Byrne opening the conference, with the policy overview formed by the National Centre for Partnership Performance. She was followed by Professor Ivan Robertson and the Gareth O’Callaghan spoke of his personal experience. Even thought it was my work, I really enjoyed the conference. The balance between policy, academics and personal seeemed to work well, with each reinforcing the other. Workshops were given by Prof Robertson and by Janice Walshe of BCM Hanby Wallace.

You can download presentations here

I think it was a timely conference, given how much mental health has been in the media lately, and also given how much the recession must be impacting on people’s stress levels, both in work and outside work. If a company can recognise the value of supporting and valuing and minding its staff, it will see the positive impact of that. It is simple. If a company can value mental wellbeing and recognise their role in creating that, then they are more likely to understand and support staff going through any mental ill health, and their employees are less likely to experience it. Seems simple really.

Press coverage (including a small survey done at the same time): Irish Times, Irish Examiner, Herald

AHEAD’s mission is pretty clear. We would like to ensure that students with disabilities and specific learning disabilities get the information they need before going to college. When making a decision about college courses – undergraduate and postgraduate you may research information about supports in college.  Comprehensive information about support services for students with disabilities in higher education is on the QualifaX website – and we work with them to keep it up to date.

We are currently evaluating this page and would appreciate your thoughts. All those who send in responses to the below survey (also available in word format here) will be entered into a draw for a 4GB ipod shuffle (like this)

Ipod shuffle


One entry per person. Please send in your answers along with a name and postal address (in Ireland only) to getahead@ahead.ie, and marking your entry QUALIFAX. All responses must be in by the 26th January at 5pm.


QualifaX Survey

1. Are you familiar with the ‘disability resource’ page on QualifaX? (yes or no)

2. Have you used this facility? (yes or no)

3. If YES to question 2:

Did you find it easy to use? (yes or no)

Did you find it useful? (yes or no)

Did you get the information you needed? (yes or no)

4. If NO to question 2:

Were you aware of this page? (yes or no)

If you were aware of the page, but did not use it is there any particular reason you did not use it?

5. Have you any suggestions regarding this page?

Date for your Diary

Tuesday 26th January 2009, 6-8pm

Central Hotel, Exchequer Street, Dublin


“Supporting Students with Disabilities in a Recession”

If you require an interpreter or have any additional requirements or questions please contact Linda Kelly via email at equality@usi.ie

This workshop is open to all students with disabilities in third level. Niamh Hayes, AHEAD will discuss the difficulties facing college authorities and disability support services in the current economic climate as well as her own college experience. Then students will be given the opportunity to share their college experience and how the current cutbacks are affecting them.

This event is sponsored by AHEAD & USI

View this document on Scribd

Happy new year everyone! January is always a quiet month for me as I plan the forthcoming year and settle back into work. Anyway, part of the planning involves meetings and I recently had one with my boss where we were trying to pull together another funding proposal and a proposal for a presentation at this conference

And halfway through the meeting, as I was mid rant I realised that I still hadn’t bought a recorder of some kind. Honestly, I talk far better than I write. When prepping for some public speech I rehearse aloud/ in my head, and jot down the key points that make me remember the thread that the whole thing hangs on. But finding that line is always in conversation, always verbal rather than written. Right now, I’m talking in my head as I write this post. Anyway, the point is that I come up with my best ideas, and more importantly the logic and convincing rationale for them, when I’m talking. Not when I’m writing, not when I’m alone. So I need a recorder that I can talk into. And a space where I can talk. Because that’s the other problem. I need someone to listen, or the room to not mind me talking. So – when and how I work best. By talking and being listened to or alone (oddly enough my colleagues find it hard to work when I’m walking around the room needing to be listened to or talking to myself.  Or at least it would be unfair to ask them to compromise their way of working, – – they’re great, by the way, this isn’t a complaint – compromises and balance of different needs will have to be a whole other post)

Knowing how you work best is valuable. Next time I have to come up with an idea, a proposal, an argument to convince, to change (a large chunk of my job) I’ll be talking not writing – 2 quick, face to face, meetings were far more effective than hours spent staring at the screen drafting things I’d later scrap. In those circumstances, verbalising is far more effective for me. Obviously, in different circumstances, trying to do something different, or in a different job, it might not work for me. The point is, I’ve figured out a tool, a method that makes it easier for me to do my job, and helps me do my job better.

Working with, talking to, other people with disabilities, I’m always saying you need to know what you need to make you able to do your job – what assistive technology, what transport, what breaks, what supports, because of your disability. The point I’m trying to make, is that figuring all that out is about trying to figure out how you do your job easily and best. An accommodation is there to help you do your job – getting that accommodation is good for you and for your job. And that applies to everyone, disabled or not. The likelihood of needing an accommodation, a different way of doing things increases if you have a disability, but the end point is the same – you need certain things to do your job and to do it well.

So, figure out what you need to work well – regardless of why you need it, figure it out.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to buy a recorder.