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


What can you expect from DARE Orientation?

It’s almost that time of year again when thousands of new students will start their first year in colleges all around the country. As part of most inductions to third level, first year students have an orientation before the college term starts up.

For students with disabilities, particularly those coming through the DARE scheme, there are often an extra orientation more specifically tailored to the information they will need. GetAHEAD spoke to three different colleges to get an insight into what kind of orientation or extra supports they offer to students with disabilities and what students can be expecting:


 NUI Galway

All DARE-eligible students who accept a course at NUI Galway are strongly encouraged to attend a Disability Support Service (DSS) Induction Session in early September 2018. The DSS will contact you with more detailed information about the Induction Sessions once you accept your place at NUI Galway

You can select the date and time of the Induction Session that works best for you by clicking on this link: http://bit.ly/DSSInduction. Only DSS staff and those who are there on the day will know that you have attended a DSS Induction. All DARE-eligible students starting at NUI Galway should also participate in the orientation week events that take place in the week beginning Monday 3rd of September 2018. 

When you attend a DSS Induction, you will:

  • enjoy an opportunity to meet with the Disability Officer and the DSS team as well as Education Support Workers, student volunteers, and other new students attending on the day
  • meet with (or get the name and contact details of) your Disability Advisor
  • learn about some of the benefits of registering with the DSS, such as access to assistive technology or exam accommodations
  • get advice about how to register and, in some cases, an opportunity to complete your registration with the DSS*
  • take a campus tour that highlights some of the services and supports available, as well as campus accessibility 




‘The UCD DARE Welcome Programme is a 3 day non-residential programme for incoming DARE students. It is a great opportunity to meet other students from your programme area and get to know the campus before the crowds arrive for orientation the following week. 

You will also get to meet our Access Leaders who are current students studying the same or a similar programme to you. They will show you around and answer any questions you have about UCD. 

There are approximately 100 students attending the DARE Welcome Programme. We also have a group of Access Leaders who help us run the programme and we introduce you to many of the supports available to students in UCD

including Student Advisers, the Students Union, the Maths Support Centre, the Writing Centre, the Library, UCD Sport etc. 

Everyone on the Welcome Programme applied through DARE. Some will have received a reduced points place and others will have met the points requirement. After DARE Orientation there is nothing to identify you as a DARE student. DARE is used for admissions purposes only.

We do strongly encourage students who apply through DARE to meet with us to discuss any supports they might need in college so that we can get these in place. 

The DARE Welcome Programme is run by staff from the UCD Access & LIfelong Learning who are directly responsible for supporting students with disabilities. We deliver many of the workshops and we are around for the full 3 days to answer questions. Everyone who attends

the DARE Welcome Programme is given the opportunity to book an appointment to meet with a member of the Disability Support team to discuss any supports they might need. 

The Welcome Programme is a mix of social activities, study skills, introductions to many of the supports and systems in UCD and some information on the types of supports available to students with a disability e.g. AT and exam supports. All of our Access Leaders are trained

to deliver campus tours and know the accessible routes around the campus. ‘



‘Every September the Disability & Learning Support Service (DLSS) team in DCU run an orientation programme for students who applied to the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) scheme and are starting their studies in DCU. Students will receive an invite to our DARE Orientation after they accept their place in DCU. Because there are so many students who come to DCU through DARE, we split the group in three and we repeat the orientation day three times - students only attend for one day though!

The aim of our DARE Orientation is to introduce students to DCU - to the campus, to fellow students and to our team. The day kicks off with an introduction to the staff members and we run through the day's schedule. We explain the purpose of the day and encourage students to get to know each other, ask us questions and enjoy themselves. We remind students that now they are in college they are treated as adults - they don't need to ask permission to leave the room, and they can opt-out of an activity if they want. 

The day then continues with a mixture of sessions to help students get to know each other and to get familiar with DCU life. The Disability Officers explain how students register with the service and run a session answering common 'first year' questions. Our Assistive Technology Officer introduces students to the programmes and apps used in DCU. The Occupational Therapists run team-building activities to get students talking and moving. We are supported by an excellent team of DLSS Student Ambassadors, current DCU students who are registered with the DLSS. The Ambassadors help with all the activities and talk about college life from a student perspective. They are great at answering questions students don't want to ask us! The Ambassadors also run a campus tour and provide tips including where to get the best coffee and the cheapest lunch! We have lunch in the canteen followed by a few information sessions in the afternoon from different DCU staff members. The Students Union come in to introduce themselves and tell students about the work they do and upcoming events to watch out for. All day, staff are available to speak to students and answer questions about DCU.

The Orientation is for students who have come through DARE but we don't speak much about DARE or disability, only really to explain the registration process with the DLSS. During the orientation, we run a session for parents/guardians where we explain our service, the registration process and supports, and importantly explain to parents/guardians that in DCU we can't speak to parents/guardians about their son/daughter without the student's permission, which is a big change from secondary school. During the registration process, the Disability Officer will talk to the student in detail about confidentiality.

The DARE Orientation is just the beginning. After the DARE Orientation, students will attend the main DCU Orientation which offers even more information about starting life in DCU. We always get feedback from students that the DARE Orientation is a fun, relaxing and helpful starting point to life at DCU. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch at disability.service@dcu.ie


Hope to see you in September!

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