AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
Creating inclusive environments in education & employment for people with disabilities.


AHEAD Start Online Course

Do you have students with Disabilities in your college?

Are you putting the right accommodations in place to support students and to be legally compliant?

What: AHEAD Start, is AHEAD's online learning training course on supporting students with disabilities in Further and Higher education.  

Available to: Professional staff, such as teachers, careers advisors or dedicated support staff working within Irish Further Education & Training and Higher Education. This course is focused on Irish law and legislation and working in the Irish context. As such, it is open to professional staff working in Ireland only.

When: The course runs once a year from January to March. The next course will run from mid January 2024 to mid March. Register for AHEAD Start. 

Course information: The number of students with disabilities in education is increasing year on year and educational institutions are legally responsible under Irish law for ensuring that they are included and accommodated. This interactive online course will provide professional staff, such as teachers, careers advisors or dedicated support staff with a systematic approach to supporting students with disabilities and includes practical templates for carrying out needs assessments.  These assessments are required to make an application to the National Access Office for the additional funding to support students with disabilities in third level courses and provide evidence of compliance with equality and disability legislative requirements.

Participation includes attendance at a number of webinars, coupled with an 18-22 hour online course completed over a 6-8 week term. The course can be completed anywhere you have access to a computer, internet connection and headphones (see the full requirements in our FAQ) and can be done at times that suit your work schedule (within the specified term time). The interactive online part is broken into four modules;

 Module 1: Disability: Attitudes, Policy & Legislation – A History

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe recent changes in relation to disability and education
  • Explain some of the factors which have brought about these changes
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the social policy regarding the inclusion of people with disabilities in Ireland
  • Explain the development of current theory on models of disability
  • Understand the key legislation concerning disability and education and reflect on how that legislation impacts on your role

 Module 2: Understanding Disability

Learning Outcomes

  • Explain what constitutes a disability
  • Distinguish between different types of disability
  • Identify the communication needs of people with disabilities and be aware of the appropriate language and behaviour when working with people with disabilities
  • Have a better understanding of the impact a disability might have on a student’s learning

 Module 3: Supports & Reasonable Accommodations

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand of the meaning of a reasonable accommodation.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the various types of supports you can put in place to help students with disabilities.
  • Describe the advantages of various types of assistive technology for students with disabilities.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the types of supports which might be appropriate for students with various types of disabilities.

 Module 4: Needs Assessment & Funding

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the funding mechanism currently used to fund supports in the Irish third level system
  • Identify the relevant information in a student’s educational psychologist’s report
  • Understand the importance of a needs assessment in identifying student supports
  • Describe the various stages in the needs assessment process
  • Carry out a needs assessment

For more info on course structure and other important info, visit the FAQs page or view the full terms and conditions of enrolment.

Course Fees

Staff of AHEAD Member Organisations get huge reductions on this course.

AHEAD Member Rate: €300 per person

Standard Rate: €550 per person

To see if your institution is an AHEAD member and/or enquire about the costs/benefits of membership, please contact us at ahead@ahead.ie

Register for AHEAD Start

Please note that our payment process has now changed for this course. AHEAD would like to request that all payments be processed through Paypal as part of The Eventbrite registration form. If anyone has an issue with paying through this method please contact Cass Horton at cass.horton@ahead.ie


 Semester 2 (Jan-Mar 2024) Schedule

Online Seminar Series Schedule - 

There will be a number of online seminars covering legislation, disability supports, decoding psychologist reports, the needs assessment process and Assistive Technology. 

  • Webinar 1 - 'Introduction to the course and an overview on disability legislation in Ireland'
  • Webinar 2 - 'Overview on assistive technology and introduction to some popular apps' 
  • Webinar 3 - 'Educational psychologist reports, supports and needs assessments' 
  • Optional Webinar - 'Q & A about final assessment' 

Online Term Start Mid January 2024

Online Term End & Assessment Submission Deadline: End of March 2024

Register for AHEAD Start 2024

Creating Inclusive Environments in Education and Employment for People with Disabilities

East Hall, UCD, Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin.
T +353 1 592 1467 E ahead@ahead.ie W www.ahead.ie RCN 20025182