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


AHEAD 2024 Panorama: Widening the Lens for Systemic Inclusion in Tertiary Education 


Registration now open! Sign up by January 31st to avail of the Early Bird discount of 15%.

Full programme and registration now available

The rapidly growing diversity in our further education and training (FET) and higher education (HE) learner population has brought greater recognition of the need to ensure that ‘inclusion is everyone’s business’. A growing number of students with disabilities, greater ethnic and socio-economic diversity, and rising numbers of second language learners amongst, have further highlighted the complex and intersecting identities within our institutions. All staff have a part to play in ensuring we create programmes, services and environments which enable them to access, participate and flourish in all aspects of the educational experience.  

In an Irish context, important goals concerning disability inclusion and universal design are embedded in national FET and HE strategy, and evidence exists of significant engagement in professional development, (forthcoming, Healy et al.). 

But the same research highlights a lack of strategic focus on universal design at the institutional level, and challenges to creating implementation structures which support its sustainable application.  

This conference explores strategies and structures which sustainably embed universal design and disability-inclusive approaches in institutional policy and practice, embracing the ever-complex identities of all learners. The aim is to take a panoramic view of our institutional approaches to inclusion and create a space for reflection, networking and the broadening of our horizons. 

Drawing on the literature, we’ll be focussing on ideas and actions in four key pillars of our institutions (Burgstahler, 2009; Kelly and Padden, 2018), and how they interact and intertwine to create a more inclusive environment for our students: 

  • Teaching & Learning 

  • Supports, Services & Social Engagement 

  • Physical Environment 

  • Digital Environment 

Programme details will be shared soon but current highlights include:

  • Starting a National Conversation on Embedding Universal Design in Tertiary Education. Session in Partnership with the ALTITUDE Charter Collaborators.

  • Exploring Generative AI Together: How can Artificial Intelligence Contribute to Student Support? Session in Partnership with N-Tutorr

  • Institutional Journeys to Embedding UD: Case Studies from Further and Higher Education 

  • Beyond the Classroom: Social Engagement, Transition to Work and More. Case Studies from Further and Higher Education

The conference will take place hybrid (online and in-person) from March 20th - 21st  from Croke Park Conference Centre in Dublin, Ireland.

Full programme and registration now available

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The core funding received by AHEAD for its higher education activities is provided by the Higher Education Authority.

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The core funding received by AHEAD for its further education activities on fostering inclusion is provided by SOLAS.

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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