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!

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?

Survey on access to leisure for all

Enable Ireland is asking people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities to take part in an online survey on their experiences of social and leisure activities. In 2008, research for the organisation showed that two out of three people with a disability found it difficult to access any form of social or leisure activity.

The survey is available online here. Results will be released in advance of Action Week on Disability, which will take place from 14th-19th September 2009.

Careers Fairs are kicking off soon. To get you ready check out this:

For more information go to their website

Presentations and public speaking

One of my favourite bloggers, Rowan Manahan, has finally put all the presentation stuff he talks about and all his useful tips and so on into a separate blog: You can find it here. Many people have a horror of public speaking and presenting, and this is a really good way to learn more about it.

A different approach to job seeking

One person is trying twitter and facebook and linkedin, and a website, to see if it helps him get a job. Check out his site here. Either way, you can’t say he isn’t trying!

Enable Ireland have just published the results of a survey “Access All Areas” as part of their Action Week and I’ve just taken a quick read of it, and some of the media reports on it. You can find the survey here, but I’m just pulling out the things that struck me on reading it.

“Infrastructure was viewed as the biggest barrier to access in the daily lives of people living with a disability in Ireland who partook in our Access All Areas survey. The biggest proportion (28%) of contributors voted this their biggest access barrier out of the five options. This was followed…by employment (21%)”

Surely if infrastructure is a problem then getting to anything is going to be difficult – if you can’t get around without difficulty then that’s a barrier to employment before you even get to the interview. This survey corroborates what we knew from our experience & research, reinforces the anecdotal evidence, and each survey, each piece of research backs up the other which is both useful and frustrating. But it comes up time and time again – access (or rather lack of it) is a huge barrier to employment. Policy makers need to take a long hard look at these facts – because as long as basics like transport and access to shops & buildings are challenging for some disabled people, as long as “it’s easier to stay at home” for some people, then figures like these are going to remain the same:

“Adults with a disability had struggled with employment; with over two thirds (70%) saying they had not found the process very accessible. While just under a quarter (23%) had found it quite accessible, only seven percent had found it highly accessible.”

And I don’t think that’s good enough.