December 2010

AHEAD invited students with disabilities from all over Ireland to the Kilmainham Hilton Hotel where we asked them ‘what would make your education amazing?’ We did this with Chris Chapman (Change Exploratory) as a facilitator who used the World Cafe technique ( The evening before the World Cafe we invited successful professionals to have dinner with students so that they could find out more about different professions in an informal setting and make connections for the future. Guests included Caroline Carswell, Lucy Fallon Byrne, Brian Mooney, Tony Ward, Dermot O Sullivan, Sinead Kane, Aoibheann Gleeson & Viv Rath.
The event was a huge success thanks to all the students who took part and shared their experience and stories so openly with us. We look forward to bringing those stories to policy and decision makers in 2011. This video is the start of that – it is a brief look at what happened on the day with contributions from students. It was first shown at the AHEAD AGM on the 14th December 2010.


You know when you write a blog post/report/something and spend ages writing and formatting and getting it perfect before you send it off to someone?? And then you delete it or lose it at the last minute? Well that just happened to me! So this is my second (and considerably shorter) blog post about the recent World Café Event in the Kilmainham Hilton Hotel!


Don’t know what a world café is? Then check out the website


Anyways, all I really wanted to do was to put up some of the quotes from the students who attended. The event was about finding out from them, what college is like for a student with a disability, not from a Disability Officer or an Access Officer or a Student Union officer. We wanted to students to speak for themselves and tell us first hand how it is.


The quotes are not intended to reflect any particular trend or issue – they were just the ones that struck me, humbled me, made me laugh and in the case of one or two… made me want to cry.

  • Acceptance is a two way thing
  • Empathise not sympathise
  • Not having to explain or justify your disability to DSS
  • The self confidence that you get from knowing about your disability
  • A disability is like having freckles: it’s something you’re born with but shouldn’t make a difference!
  • It’s not about disability, it’s about the person!
  • How do you Jacobs get the figs into fig rolls?
  • With the proper support I can do anything
  • Why do people not believe in us?
  • How do we change the focus from “disability” to “ability”?
  • Supports are there for a reason – don’t let them be taken away
  • Stop expecting silence when you cut out funding
  • My experience has been torture
  • There is nothing more upsetting than becoming a statistic
  • Discrimination does exist and should be considered a criminal offence
  • No one has the right to deny me education because it is inconvenient to them
  • I am neither a statistic nor less than any other person
  • Love the optimism, enthusiasm and all the bad jokes. I really like the way people are really friendly and open minded;
  • Haven’t eaten so much in one day!
  • Don’t think I’ve ever been so proud to be disabled.