11:55 Lightning Session 2


Each presentation during the Lightning Session will be six to eight minutes, using a maximum of six slides. These rapid fire presentations will serve as a great introduction to projects, resources and approaches to inclusive education and learner support across the sector.  

Lightning 2.1: Assistive technology and feeling valued: Promoting inclusion for students with disabilities in higher education

This paper explores the role of AT in feeling valued and vice versa among students with disabilities in higher education. Semi-structured interviews (n =13) were conducted with students with disabilities at two time points over the academic year. Students with any type of disability, using any type of AT, enrolled in a Higher Education Authority funded Higher Education Institution in Ireland were eligible to take part. Thematic analysis and longitudinal analysis across cases were used to interpret the data. Key findings included the indirect impact of AT on students’ sense of value through its influence on feelings of autonomy and competence, claiming disability and feeling like you belong. Feeling valued also influenced use of and perceptions towards AT. This research highlights the instrumental role of feeling valued in creating an environment where students are comfortable using their AT in higher education.

Slides - Ahead 2023 - Lightning 2.3 - AT and Feeling Valued DCU MU

Dr Aoife McNicholl

Dublin City University

Speaker Bio

Lightning 2.2: UDL in Midwifery Education: Nurturing Students’ Sense of Coherence Towards Learning

Student success is generally acknowledged to be the ability of students to recognise and fulfil their potential to contribute to, and flourish in, society (HEA, 2019). To achieve this, a culture that values inclusivity, equity and meaningful engagement is a pre-requisite (HEA, 2019). Research exploring human flourishing within higher education highlights several factors that enable students to make sense of their learning experiences. These factors relate to whether students view their learning as comprehensible, manageable and meaningful (Dooris et al, 2022). This perspective is termed ‘Sense of Coherence’ (Antonovsky, 1987). The integration of UDL principles into Higher Education has the potential to nurture and increase students’ sense of coherence towards their learning and empower them to mobilise resources to cope with educational stressors that may arise. This presentation will report on a UDL initiative within midwifery education, in one HEI in Ireland with students from diverse backgrounds, detailing outcomes and plans for the future

UDL has the potential to enhance students’ sense of coherence towards their educational experiences by ensuring that learning is meaningful, manageable and comprehensible.

Nurturing learning in this way may empower students to acknowledge their potential and enable them to flourish.

Slides for Lightning talk: midwifery


Additional resources/Further Reading

John Kelly Awards 2022 - Posters 

UCD John Kelly Awards News 

Lightning 2.3: ENGAGE – An Online Learning Programme designed by Neurodivergent Educators for Neurodivergent Learners

In this lightning presentation, Claire, Head of Training with Thriving Autistic will guide attendees through the aims, general content, and impact of the ENGAGE programme.

In early 2022, Thriving Autistic, in partnership with Galway Autism Partnership delivered a sixweek education programme for neurodivergent adults wishing to start or return to third level education. The ENGAGE programme was designed using UDL principles and learner voice, including learners’ strengths and identified needs.

The three guiding principles of UDL were employed at all programme stages, including design, implementation, and evaluation. Information was represented in multiple ways; learners were encouraged to interact with the learning content in different formats and multiple creative and innovative methods were employed to enhance motivation and participant engagement.

The fully subscribed programme received very positive feedback from participants. Collaboratively, the participants and the facilitator navigated the digital divide to create a truly inclusive, impactful, and enjoyable learning environment.

Slides -AHEAD 2023 - Lightning Session 2.3 - ENGAGE - Neurodivergent Crossing the Digital Divide Together

Additional resources/further reading

Gonzalez, D. R. (2021). We're in this Together: Addressing the Struggle of Online Learning for Students with Special Needs.

Lesoski, C. M. (2022, March). Supporting Neurodivergent Learners Online: Strategies and Lingering Questions. In The National Teaching & Learning Forum (Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 3-4).

Parkman, M. (2022). Passive to active: how online lessons create real world learners. 100 Ideas for Active Learning.

Claire O'Neill

Researcher and Writer, University College Cork

Speaker Bio

Lightning 2.4: Reasonable Accommodations for Disabled Staff in the Covid/Post-Covid Environment in Higher Education

Reasonable Accommodations for Disabled Staff in the Covid/Post-Covid Environment in Higher Education

There are fears among disabled employees that the post-covid environment may result in a roll back on the inclusive practices implemented during the pandemic (Ryan, 2021). There is little or no information on the experiences of disabled people accessing reasonable accommodations whilst working and researching in higher education post-covid in Ireland.

The Shifting Sands Conference was organised by the TCD Forum in response to concerns expressed by disabled staff and postgraduate students who reported:

  • Being unaware of their rights to reasonable accommodations (RAs),
  • Challenges accessing RAs post-covid
  • Having acquired a disability and not being sure of their right to RAs and to access RAs

Dr Vivian Rath

National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee

Speaker Bio

Fiona Smyth

University College Dublin

Speaker Bio

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This article appeared in the AHEAD website. Visit www.ahead.ie for more information