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.

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.

Dear Students with AD/HD,

A new student support group has been organised for AD/HD college students. Assistance was provided from other sources; however, the group was created largely by AD/HD students for AD/HD students.
The group will meet for the first time on the 26th October 2009, up stairs in Doyle’s Pub on College Street, Dublin 2, at 7pm. Future meetings will be held on the last Monday of every month at the same time and location.

Developing awareness and understanding of AD/HD and it’s implications as a student and beyond, is key to managing AD/HD effectively. This is achieved by learning about the condition, and also socialising with other student who face the same challenges.

Group meetings will be informal events. Participation, and/ or involvement, in the organising of meeting and running of the group, is up to the members. Topics, issues, format, set up, etc… is flexible; we would like everyone to get involved in different aspects of the group. Input from everyone is welcome, but not required.

We will also have a bit of fun along the way! 🙂
We look forward to seeing you there,

Kate and Stiofan
Contact: adhdstudents@hotmail.com

I was reading a few posts on Tommy’s site recently where he was talking about his cane and the posts resonated with me.

Every time I talk to a group of people about disclosure (of disability) their reactions are very different. And I got to thinking about my reactions. I get tired telling people. I have a spiel that I think makes me even sound tired talking about it. My disabilities are mostly invisible (if you’re not looking hard, or don’t know what to look for at least). I don’t hide them, but they are definitely more invisible. I do have a choice – I don’t have to tell. I could pass for able bodied. My disability is not revealed not by my body, there’s no ‘giveaways’ But because of the way this world is, for me to operate in it, I have to tell. And telling can be difficult or tiring, you are revealing personal information that people sometimes don’t know what to do with. Which can be awkward. But then so is a halfway existence. Sometimes, I wish it was it was told for me – that I had a cane. Or the hearing aids I had as a small kid which I wore in a little harness on my chest – 2 little pouches,  with 2 boxes, and long wires dangling out of them. But that’s only sometimes. More often, I wish it wasn’t necessary to make it obvious. That the way this world is, includes people like me a little more. I also wish that having been this person all my life, that I could talk about that one part of me more easily, so that we can get back to a conversation which all of me is in, not just my disability.*

So when disclosure comes up, I’m very concious of all the emotions and the difficulties that people may have. I also think that those who look for that information should think about what telling is, and how it would be to have to do it. All the time.


*I don’t mean this as a ‘poor me’ piece, more as a reflective piece, based on my thoughts and feelings after reading Tommy’s posts.