Unity: How Staff and Learner Communities Drive Inclusion in Tertiary Education 


 About the Conference

“The good society was, a diverse yet harmonious, growing yet unified whole - a fully participatory democracy in which the powers and capacities of the individuals that comprised it were harmonized by their cooperative activities into a community that permitted the full and free expression of individuality.” – John Dewey 

The community of professionals working to support equity and inclusion of people with disabilities in further and higher education, and to promote the wider concepts of universal design and UDL, is growing at a rapid pace. Equally, the welcome trend towards increased student partnership in tertiary education is providing more opportunities for learners to contribute meaningfully to this community, and the dialogue about policy and practice within it. 

But what does all of that mean for the state of play regarding inclusion in tertiary education and the consistency of learner support? Is this growing community meaningfully and positively impacting on policy, practice and ultimately, student success? If so, how can we more closely align our communities, raise the voices of diverse staff and learners with them, and maximise their collective impact? 

As Ireland moves towards a more unified tertiary education system, and more unified communities of policy makers, professional staff, educators and learners within these sectors, this conference will explore individual, institutional, national and international views on how we can leverage the power of community to drive equity and inclusion in the tertiary education system.  

This event takes place over 2 days and will be available to attend hybrid or blended. Attendees will be able to choose an in-person ticket to attend the sessions live in Croke Park Stadium (Cusack entrance), or an online ticket if they wish to attend online. 


Full Programme

Click the dropdowns below to explore the content for each day, or click on a day in the navigation bar above. Hover over speaker images to see speaker names, or click to see full bio.

Day 1: Wednesday March 22nd

Day 1: Wednesday March 22nd

09:30 Welcome and Introduction

  1. Dara Ryder, CEO, AHEAD Fiona Maloney, National Tertiary Office

10:00 Student Panel: The National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee: Unifying the National Disabled Postgraduate Voice

  1. Dr Vivian Rath, National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee Dr Patricia McCarthy, Associate Research Fellow. Trinity College Dublin Catherine Gallagher, Dublin City University Amy Hassett, UCD Dr Teresa Shiels, University Limerick David Loughrey, Trinity College Dublin / Dublin City University

10:45 Simultaneous Session: Lightning Session 1

  1. Lightning 1.1: The Crowd4Access/University of Galway footpath mapping initiative: Improving accessibility through collaborating in Citizen Science
    Dr Deirdre McHugh, University of Galway Brendan Smith, Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics
  2. Lightning 1.2: Inclusive Higher Education through an Algerian lens: Experiences of Disability Support Staff
    Fatma Bouabida, University Of The West Of Scotland
  3. Lightning 1.3: Inclusive LMS (Learning Management System) for students with disabilities in HE
    Amin Sharifi Isaloo, Department of Sociology and Criminology, UCC
  4. Lightning 1.4: ‘Students with Disabilities on Placements: Guidance on the Provision of Reasonable Accommodations on Practice-based Placements in Professionally Accredited Programmes’: An Overview
    Dr Vivian Rath, National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee Barbara Waters, Journal Editor, AHEAD

10:45 Simultaneous Session: In Person Workshop 1 - Meaningfully Engaging with Learner Voice in Further Education & Training

  1. Denise O'Connor, Colaiste Dhulaigh College of Further Education

11:30 Break

11:55 Simultaneous Session: Lightning Session 2

  1. Lightning 2.1: Assistive technology and feeling valued: Promoting inclusion for students with disabilities in higher education
    Dr Aoife McNicholl, Dublin City University
  2. Lightning 2.2: UDL in Midwifery Education: Nurturing Students’ Sense of Coherence Towards Learning
  3. Lightning 2.3: ENGAGE – An Online Learning Programme designed by Neurodivergent Educators for Neurodivergent Learners
    Claire O'Neill, Researcher and Writer, University College Cork
  4. Lightning 2.4: Reasonable Accommodations for Disabled Staff in the Covid/Post-Covid Environment in Higher Education
    Dr Vivian Rath, National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee Fiona Smyth, University College Dublin

11:55 Simultaneous Session: In Person Workshop 2 - UDL & the social/emotional aspects of learning: embedding mental wellbeing is everyone’s business

  1. Rachel Davies, De Montfort University Leicester Dr Kevin L. Merry, De Montfort University

12:40 Lunch

13:40 Keynote - Upping your Accessibility Superhero Game

  1. Sophie Gahan, University College Cork James Northridge, Project Manager for Inclusive UCC

14:30 Break

14:45 Whole Conference Conversation - Shaping the Future of UD in Irish Tertiary Education

16:30 Networking Reception & Interactive Poster Session

  1. Centre for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) Partnerships towards Inclusive UCC
  2. Harnessing the power of everyday technology to break down the barriers to assistive technology usage in learning
  3. Virtual reality in inclusive and universal teaching in the life sciences
  4. Inclusive pedagogy in online simulation-based learning in undergraduate nursing education: an experience-based co-design approach
  5. Navigating UDL from the inside-out; ‘An insight into an award-winning approach to UDL collaboration.’
  6. Supervising Supports in tertiary education
  7. Embedding UDL into an accredited professional development programme for Higher Education teachers
  8. Fostering collaboration to support the ADHD Student: An IADT Story
  9. Access UCC EmployAbility
  10. Bookshare Ireland: Collaboration, Accessibility and Inclusion
  11. Overcoming public speaking anxiety by using virtual reality (VR) for presentation practice
  12. Group Needs Assessments: Can an Individual Needs Assessment take place in a Group Setting
  13. Three-dimensional generation of anatomical structures via activity-based learning and research-teaching interaction
  14. Inclusive higher education through an Algerian lens
  15. Empowering autistic students to succeed at third level: What can you do?
  16. Recorded Lectures, a Reasonable Accommodation? Lessons Learnt at UCC

Day 2: Thursday March 23rd

Day 2: Thursday March 23rd

Welcome and Introduction

10:00 Student Panel: Learning from Lived Experiences of Students with Intellectual Disabilities in Tertiary Education

  1. Des Aston, National & Schools Coordinator, Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (TCPID), School of Education, Trinity College Dublin

10:45 Simultaneous Session: Lightning Session 1

  1. Lightning 1.1: The use of inclusive e-learning academic tools to support under-represented HEA target groups in higher education
    Aislinn Ryan, National Learning Network Sandra Collins, Maynooth University
  2. Lightning 1.2: The accessibility dream: An idea to future proof accessibility for staff and students
    Trevor Boland, Dublin City University
  3. Lightning 1.3: UDL: From Episodic to Systemic Change
    Kate Molloy, University of Galway Dr Daniel Savery, National University of Ireland, Galway
  4. Lightning 1.4: A UDL approach to reducing the effects of Glossophobia
    Dr Liam Morris, Atlantic Technological University - Galway

10:45 Simultaneous Session: In Person Workshop 1 - Designing a UDL Curriculum Design – Creating an inclusive recipe one module at a time!

  1. Maureen Haran, PhD(c), SFHEA, Atlantic Technological University Dr Niamh Plunkett, Atlantic Technological University

11:30 Break

11:55 Simultaneous Session: Lightning Session 2

  1. Lightning 2.1: Mental health crisis – support for a student and teacher
    Katarzyna Jach, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Poland Elżbieta Zienkiewicz, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Poland
  2. Lightning 2.2: Mentors in the Workplace: The Experiences of Mentors working with TCPID Graduates
    Emer Murphy, TCPID, Trinity College Dublin Barbara Ringwood, TCPID, Trinity College Dublin
  3. Lightning 2.3: Capturing The Student Voice to Effect Real Change
    Siobhán Dunne, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Subject Librarian, Library of Trinity College Dublin
  4. Lightning 2.4: A culture of inclusion: Reimagining the university as a place for students with intellectual disabilities
    Dr Nicola Maxwell, University College Cork (UCC) Prof Maire Leane, Head of School of Applied Social Studies, UCC

11:55 Simultaneous Session: In Person Workshop 2 - Creating an Inclusive Institution Together – UD Approaches

  1. Dr Laura Lee, Research Manager for CIRTL, UCC James Northridge, Project Manager for Inclusive UCC Dr Anna Santucci, Senior Lecturer for CIRTL, UCC

12:40 Lunch

13:40 Keynote - Tackling the two solitudes. Bridging the conflicting lived realities of faculty and accessibility personnel within UDL implementation

  1. Dr Frédéric Fovet, Thompson Rivers University

14:30 Break

14:45 Whole Conference Conversation - Shaping the Future of UD in Irish Tertiary Education

ahead conference supported by solas & the hea

With thanks to SOLAS and the Higher Education Authority who provide core funding for AHEAD's activities promoting inclusion in the tertiary education:

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