Parallel 2: Themed Presentations 

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Launchpad Online: How Student Ownership can Transform an Orientation Programme

Deeper Dive  – 25 min presentation.

Students with disabilities supported by the Maynooth University Access Programme (MAP) are more likely to experience additional challenges as they make the transition to third level. Orientation programmes have a positive impact on academic and social integration in transitioning to college (Mayhew et al., 2010). 

MAP delivers an annual 3-day on-campus orientation to enhance the experience of entrants with disabilities and entrants from widening participation backgrounds. Launchpad instils a sense of belonging at Maynooth University and has been shown to increase retention. Due to COVID-19, Launchpad moved online in 2020. This proposal outlines how the redesign became an exciting opportunity to enhance and elevate students with disabilities as co-creators and co-owners of Launchpad Online. 

Launchpad Online adopted a collaborative approach to design innovative activities aligned to the Online Engagement Framework. MAP mobilised a team of four Coordinators and 165 student ambassadors to provide peer support and deliver Launchpad. The student committee identified the goals and challenges for entrants. They designed the timetable to incorporate interactive sessions viewable on online devices. They were informed by previous Launchpad evaluations, student reachouts, the Mitigating Educational Disadvantage Working Group recommendations and Jigsaw and SpunOut Youth Mental Health findings. 

Launchpad comprised different elements including information sessions, virtual campus tours, field trips, panels, games & hangouts. The online format enabled real-time participation and recording of accessible content. eAccessibility was built into activities and social interactions to promote the inclusion of students with disabilities, by following a session template that required confirmation of accessible format, subtitles, narration, live chat, etc. across multiple platforms. The committee developed a support and training plan incorporating mentoring, online practice, newsletters and podcasts to prepare to facilitate sessions. This proposal shows how integrating students into the design and delivery of online orientations produces outstanding accessible and inclusive experiences for students with disabilities.

Simon Ahern

Educational Technology Officer, Maynooth University

Speaker Bio

Martha Brandes

Outreach Officer, Maynooth University

Speaker Bio

Roadmap: An Online Evidence-based and Innovative Support Tool for Students with Disabilities

Deeper Dive  – 25 min presentation

Higher education brings along many new situations. As a student with disabilities this can be extra challenging. The Support Center for Inclusive Education (SIHO) developed Roadmap, a tool that offers numerous tips and tricks about higher education. 

Roadmap was developed for and with students with autism, but now has a wider range. Roadmap offers students with disabilities information about what to expect in higher education, and tips and tricks for dealing with challenging situations. 

Roadmap functions as a student guide for (practical) lessons, group work, tasks and exams, but also offers several tips and tricks for successful student housing, building friendships and so much more.

A handy logbook in which energy and stress levels, and daily experiences can easily be recorded, and a well-arranged planning agenda, fully support students to organise and monitor their learning and student activities. Roadmap can be used individually or in combination with supervision. Students can map their own support team and can easily contact their student counsellor when and where it's needed. Students can choose how often, when and how to use Roadmap. The flexibility of the tool ensures that the offered content can be fully tailored to students' unique needs. 

This presentation will illustrate recent academic research results on the challenges and support needs of students with ASD and demonstrate how the personability of Roadmap ensures that the content offered can be fully tailored to the unique needs of each students with ASD. 


Valerie Van Hees

Coordinator of the Support Centre for Inclusive Higher Education (SIHO, Belgium)

Speaker Bio

Dominique Montagnese

Support Centre for Inclusive Higher Education (SIHO, Belgium)

Speaker Bio

Mental Health Awareness & Inclusion

Snapshot Session – 10 minute Presentation

This presentation will focus on the visible and invisible faces of Mental Health (e.g. - Stress, Anxiety, Trauma, Diagnoses, Addiction & Resilience) and what Inclusive practices can do to help. It will take a short journey into the world of Mental Health Awareness in an effort to bring some important conversations about. it will look at inclusive practices in place before Covid, the impact , as we know it, that this pandemic has had on the mental Health of our learners and teachers and it will endeavor to make some suggestions for inclusive practice that is fit for purpose going forward.

Carol Neenan

Active Inclusion Officer, Cork Education and Training Board (CETB)

Speaker Bio

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