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!

We continue our round-up of stories from across Ireland and the globe this week. possibly my favourite piece to come across though, I’ve already posted (Have you booked yet?). It’s a video of a truly inspirational nurse who talks about overcoming people’s attitudes to get her dream job. I’m not for one for smush and platitudes, she just talks openly and honestly about her experience. Very powerful. Anyway, here are the links we picked out this week:


Ireland’s toothless Celtic tiger

“As a blind person growing up in Ireland, Martin Conway went through the mainstream education system. He has also run his own business and is now a county councillor. Here he talks about the parlous state of disability politics among our nearest neighbours”


Patients restrained or secluded 5,000 times during 2009

“Psychiatric patients were either restrained or secluded in mental health facilities on more than 5,000 occasions during 2009, according to a new report by the Mental Health Commission.”



“Poor standards of web accessibility mean many disabled people are excluded from using big parts of the internet. Fix the Web is offering a solution! Disabled people report problems in under a minute. Volunteers take these issues forward with website owners.”


Cuts ‘impairing’ efforts to gather evidence of human rights abuses

“Speaking at the launch of the campaign, several people gave personal accounts of their difficulties in accessing services. Gerard Gallagher, who has cerebral palsy and is disability rights officer for the Union of Students in Ireland, described how he needed special needs assistance at school and how he encountered some difficulties while at college.”


PostgradFair Ireland

“Visit the official national postgraduate further study event for students, graduates and people returning to full time and part time education, in Ireland north and south. There will be hundreds of postgraduate, further education courses and research opportunities with exhibitors from across Ireland, Northern Ireland and overseas.”


UCC hosts disability awareness week

“UCC Students Union has this week launched its disability awareness week, it’s first ever official week dedicated to increasing awareness of the challenges disabled students face on campus.”


Supports for people with disabilities and employers

A new leaflet from the Dept of Social Protection



‘Staff helped patients like me to believe we can get on in life’

OLIVER Murphy, Ireland’s first paralympian and co-founder of the Irish Wheelchair Association, was one of the first patients to attend the National Rehabilitation Hospital.


50 years of NRH – Rehab staff take a bow

WHEN the National Rehabilitation Hospital was founded half a century ago, few could have anticipated how valuable its services would prove for the nation.


Number of rehab consultants ‘well below minimum’

THE number of consultants in rehabilitation medicine in Ireland falls well short of the recommended minimum, a medical chief claimed.


‘It’s not a crime for a disabled person to have a child’

All five members of the Wise family are on the ‘autism spectrum’. They have spent years struggling to be diagnosed, to get assistance from the State and to stay together, they tell VICTORIA WHITE


Mental health services need proper support – Letter to the Editor


New sports guidelines aim to address disability issues

Disability Sports NI and Sport Northern Ireland launched their new sports facility access guidelines at the House of Sport last week, with the help of two local up and coming athletes.


Preparing for the general election – Letter to the Editor

Madam, – The Constitution states that all persons on the electoral register are entitled to vote in the general election by means of a secret ballot. However, this isn’t the case for people who are blind or vision-impaired, as we have to rely on a trusted friend or family member to cast our ballot for us.


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.

Hopefully you’re here because you have gotten a letter from our director Ann Heelan, enclosing our Charter for Teaching and Learning. We’re really keen to see as many people as possible use this and to find it useful!

If you’d like to sign up as a supporter of the Charter, please go to the comments and leave your name, department and college. If you don’t want to leave your name in the comments you can email us at ahead AT ahead.ie (just put “supporter of the Charter” in the subject line)

You can tell us about any innovative examples of teaching and learning practices here too. This helps us to stay up to date with what’s happening all over the country and to share your experiences with others which may help them in their work.

If you have any questions about it or any other matter please contact us.