Pick of the week:

The points system fails students and the country, so replace it with a lottery

Higher Education News & Views

Mature students feel let down by ’empty pledge’

Colleges clamp down as students copy and paste their way to degrees

Colleges should be free to ‘hire and fire’

College president defends €100,000 spent on taxis

Universities should be free to ‘hire and fire’ and set pay

Warning over lack of funding at third level

WIT asked for report on spending

Quinn intervenes in reappointment of college chief

WIT board refuses to extend term of president

Mature student, 91, set for second term at university

Disability News & Views (General)

How my cousin Aimée, the first Down’s TV star, made me smile through the tears. . .

No fear of going to school with iScoil

Mum of autistic boy ‘in shock’ over stem-cell centre closure

Survivors’ group to protest against use of electroshock therapy

Does it work? Can flower remedies help with autism?

Teaching parents to accept

Hardest Hit march brings disabled people out on to the streets

Dear parent: why your dyslexic child struggles with reading

Ring finger length link to disease

Boy who can hear again hailed as medical miracle

Taking the long view of ageing in Ireland

Baby left deaf by meningitis can hear again


General Education News

Fee-paying schools lose building grants

Govt announces 15,900 extra training and education places

Keeper of the school gate

End is in sight for roll calls as schools face the future

Radio Captioning And Its Relevance To Education


Mental Health in the Media

Cost and stigma barrier to people seeking help with mental heath issues

Prospects for new Central Mental Hospital ‘hopeless’

Irish Examiner wins health award

Alcohol consumption has ‘significant’ influence on suicide rates

Bitter pursuit of debt ‘causing suicides’

Spate of teen suicides over May weekend

Listeners urged to ‘mind their mates’

Students rewarded for suicide campaign

Mental health fears for children in care

Remarks on suicide and debt welcomed

Bankers hit out at Honohan’s ‘emotive’ remarks on suicide

‘The most important thing is to reach out’

A survey of student experience is being conducted by AHEAD in collaboration with USI in March 2011.  The survey will be carried out with students nationally across the sector (aiming to reach 362 to get a fully representative sample). It aims to identify feedback from students with disabilities of accessing supports and accommodations in higher education. Students according to the Hunt Report, “have a major contribution to make in influencing the design of curricula” and in the provision of services.  This survey will seek student views on their experience of getting supports and accommodations, in order to provide feedback to the higher education sector.

Students matter, but according to the report of the 2005 Review of Quality Assurance in Irish Universities it is difficult for that voice to be heard within the system.  We intend that this timely survey will provide the sector with valuable information regarding the impact, if any, of changes to the funding levels and administration of the Fund for students with disabilities this year

The survey has been piloted by students with disabilities, is short and will be totally anonymous.  The survey can be accessed through this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/aheadstudentsurvey

We need your help!!! 362 respondents is a huge ask so we need you to promote this survey in your college, on your Facebook and to your friends! Remember not all disabilities are visible so just because you think you don’t have any friends with disabilities – it may not necessarily be true!

Any problems with the survey – just email linda.kelly@ahead.ie!

Lots of great news stories this week and a lot of activity starting up around the issue of disability, mental health and the general election! All are linked below so have a browse about and see if there is anything you might want to lend your support to over the coming weeks.

Get On Board

Get on Board for Youth Mental Health is a call to action to get the issue of youth mental health on the political agenda – to get young people asking for it, to get voters voting for it, and to get candidates committing to it.


3-year appointment wait for neurology patients

People suffering from Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and potential brain tumours are being forced to wait up to three years for an outpatient neurology appointment.


Charity voices anger after MPs ‘mocked Tory with disability’

Speaker urged to investigate after Paul Maynard told Times some Labour MPs ‘pulled faces’ at him in apparent mimicry of his cerebral palsy


Children’s therapy services criticised

THE director of the Clare Crusaders Clinic in Ennis yesterday claimed that vital services from the HSE are not there for children requiring speech and language therapy.


The two sides of coping with depression

TIME OUT: Carers require equal attention and support, writes MARIE MURRAY


Dealing with Crohn’s, minus the moans

BEING DIAGNOSED with Crohn’s disease is a life-changing moment. Like any chronic disease, you will have good settled periods and uncomfortable flare – ups. And just like many long-term illnesses, coming to terms with the disease involves taking ownership of your illness and its treatment.


Featured Person: Stephanie Woodward

Meet Stephanie, who cites her study abroad experience in Ireland as a major influence on her identity as a person with a disability. Stephanie uses a power wheelchair for mobility.


Arthritis: the leading cause of disability in the US

If you were asked the leading cause of disability in America, what would your answer be? Consider your response carefully, as I can almost assure you that it is not any of the illnesses you are contemplating.


Bid to lift stigma of disability

STUDENTS are spending a week in a wheelchair to highlight the effects of disabilities on young people.


Death of cystic fibrosis campaigner

Cystic fibrosis campaigner Anita Slowey has died. She had been receiving treatment at St Vincent’s hospital, Dublin, when she died on Monday evening.


Singer Kavanagh vows to keep performing in spite of Parkinson’s

SINGER Richie Kavanagh has vowed to continue on in the entertainment business just weeks after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.


The Disability Invisibility Cloak in #GE11

There is a danger when we do get to the ‘social’ aspects of the campaign that the issue of rights and position of people who are minorities or oppressed and disadvantaged in our society will be reduced to economic units.


What disability living allowance means to me – in pictures

From days out and football matches to visiting the mosque, and even just to buy clothes and food: the disability living allowance, or DLA, is a lifeline for many. As the consultation deadline on DLA reforms nears, clients at Scope’s Chingford day centre describe what the benefit means to them


NUI Galway Lifecourse Institute to Hold Political Debate on Policies on Older Persons, Children & Families & Persons with Disabilities

An event called Future Policies: Older People, Children & Families & Persons with Disabilities, A Lifecourse Institute Election Event will take place Thursday 17th February at 8 pm in the main lecture theatre Aras Moyola, North Campus.


Poor conditions at psychiatric units highlighted

A European investigation into conditions at prisons and psychiatric units in Ireland has uncovered a number of serious issues, including poor living conditions and high degrees of violence in some units


Ministers needs and special needs

Letter to the Editor, Irish Times

Congrats to Mary Keogh over on the Human Rights in Ireland site for putting together this very simple guide on making the election accessible for people with disabilities. This is a very significant election, particularly for students as there is a clear divide among the parties about how to fund higher education which will have a direct impact on you in the coming years. It’s important that you can access all the information out there in order to make an informed decision and most importantly that you can get into the polling booth on the 25th February.

Check out the post here: http://www.humanrights.ie/index.php/2011/02/02/it-is-time-for-an-inclusive-approach-to-campaigning/ and if you have a few minutes – why not send it to the candidates running in your area!

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 (theworldcafe.com). 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.

Originally posted here by Linda Kelly, USI Equality Officer

Hi Everyone,

Just to let you know that Equality Standing Conference will take place on the 5th & 6th of March 2010 in Cork City. We are very grateful to UCC for agreeing to host the event.

Opening of submission of motions and nominations (for the 4 part time officer positions) is Monday 8th February.

Close of submission of motions and nominations (for the 4 part time officer positions) is Friday 19th February at 17:00.

The positions available are:

  • Disability Rights Officer;
  • Gender Equality Officer;
  • Mature Students Officer &
  • International Students Officer.

Please circulate this email to any student you think may be interested in taking up a position. Nominations must be submitted on union headed paper by the CO President and include evidence of student status of the candidate. Nominations must be submitted by post and email.

I would also encourage you to submit motions to conference on equality issues. Motions can only mandate the following officers: Equality, LGBT, Disability Rights, Gender Equality, Mature & International. Motions must be submitted on union headed paper signed by the CO President via fax & email.

If you have any questions, please email me or give me a buzz!

Kind regards,


As mentioned (once or twice) here previously, we had a major symposium on the 28th of April and just for those who are interested, here’s our press release from the day:

Put lecture notes online, says AHEAD

Just one in six (17%) of blind / visually impaired students go to third level

Tuesday 28th April, 2009: A symposium of education experts drafted a ‘Charter for Inclusive Teaching and Learning’ for third-level students, at a meeting today in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. The charter aims to formalise good practices that exist in many Irish universities with respect to students with disabilities and their other classmates.

Ann Heelan, who is the Director of AHEAD (the Association for Higher Education Access & Disability) the event organisers, is keen to highlight how changes that help students with disabilities can help all students:

“Big improvements can be made at third level simply by making good use of the technology available. By putting lecture notes online, students with visual and other impairments can prepare for lectures where note taking is not an option for them. At present, just one in six students1 who are blind or visually impaired make it into third level education. Universities should make study easier for people with disabilities, not because it’s the right or moral thing to do, but because such changes benefit all students. Blind students make up less than 1% of the student population, but when you consider that up to 10%2 of students have dyslexia, the application becomes much broader.”

Ann Heelan applauds many of the colleges around Ireland who have already adopted the practice of uploading lecture notes, but she says there is a lot more that colleges can do to make students feel fully part of college life.

“Predictably it is the more traditional colleges that would have the lowest rate of notes being made available online. The main reason is they have concerns about student performance, yet students learn in many different ways.”

Other provisions on the Charter for Inclusive Teaching and Learning include:

  • Flexible assessments of outcomes
  • Taking a quality assurance approach – the student as a customer with different learning needs
  • Courses to be designed to include all students, including those with disabilities


1.                   Higher Education Authority (HEA), calculated from enrolment numbers.

2.                   The Dyslexia Association of Ireland. www.dyslexia.ie

UPDATE: Presentations from the day available to download from here