Parallel 2: Themed Presentations

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Supporting Inclusion in Digital Further Education and Training (FET) Settings: A Collaborative Submission from Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB), Cork Education and Training Board (CETB) & Donegal Education and Training Board (DETB)

Deeper Dive - 25 minute Presentation

The aim of this presentation is to explore inclusive practice within an increasingly on-line Further Education and Training environment, with a particular focus on the experiences of CETB, LCETB and DETB. Using Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a guiding framework, the presentation will outline practical interventions with FET learners who need additional supports, at both a sectoral and institutional level. This presentation will prioritise the experience and voice of learners and tutors and conclude with best practice recommendations.

Carol Neenan

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

Speaker Bio

Charles Gorney

Adult Education Officer, Donegal Education and Training Board

Speaker Bio

Aobhán Haverty

Adult Education Officer, Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board

Speaker Bio

Crona Gallagher

Donegal Education and Training Board (ETB).

Speaker Bio

The Social Engagement Experiences of Disabled Students in Higher Education in Ireland.

Deeper Dive - 25 minute Presentation

The number of undergraduate students with disabilities attending HE has increased to 7.1% in response to a range of national policies and practices. In sharp contrast, the number of postgraduate students with disabilities only represents 2.4% of the postgraduate population (Ahead, 2019). Little is known about the experiences of disabled students undertaking a Ph.D.

In response to a request by a disabled PhD student, Vivian Rath, to the Associate Provost for Equality Diversity and Inclusion, Trinity College Dublin has established a forum to hear the voice of staff, PhD and postdoctoral researchers with disabilities. This is organised and led by disabled students and staff. The literature suggests that the development of communities of disabled students acts to support them in building an identity, developing coping strategies, and skills to advocate on their own behalf (Avellone & Scott, 2017).

The results from the two forum events held identified a range of barriers and enablers faced by members of this community. Barriers included social isolation, difficulties accessing supports and worries about disclosure. Creating a climate and structure within HEIs that enables the amplification of diverse voices is critical to the implementation of the widening participation agenda. Offering institutions a window to the lived experiences of a diverse group including the barriers they face (Vickerman & Blundell, 2010). This presentation will detail how the Forum is working to tackle social isolation through its monthly 'Virtual Tea'.

It will focus on how a collaboration led by disabled students and staff, supported by senior management, has resulted in the establishment of a structure incorporating the voice of disabled people designed to inform policy and practice in Trinity College Dublin.

Dr Vivian Rath

National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee

Speaker Bio

Inclusive Learning at NUI Galway: Hearing and Embedding the Student Voice

Snapshot Session - 10 Minutes

This presentation draws on two inclusive learning projects at NUI Galway: one with undergraduate students in the College of Business, Public Policy and Law (supported by the NUI Galway Student Project Fund), and one with postgraduate students at University level (supported by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education). Both projects are co-designed by staff and students, and seek to identify barriers to inclusion and promote inclusive learning environments. 

The projects particularly focus on the experiences of students with disabilities, along with students from other groups: international/ intercultural students, students of different genders (including non-binary students), students with caring responsibilities, LGBT+ students, mature students and students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. These categories are not mutually exclusive and many students have intersections with several groups, resulting in multiple barriers in some cases. While not all students in these categories will have a disability, there have been many common learnings across all these areas that highlight significant barriers to inclusion but that also help us pave the way to fostering better accessibility and inclusion.

The student voice has been central to both projects from inception. Students have been involved in the project design, funding and implementation. The student voice has also been extensively embedded in data gathering processes, staff training and awareness-raising, project initiatives such as award schemes, project monitoring and reporting, and contributions to institutional policy development. This presentation, based on our ongoing projects, will highlight the value of student engagement in promoting inclusion at third level, as well as outlining some insights of practical ways in which this can be achieved, which may be of use to other HEIs. It will also showcase some of the key issues raised by students with disabilities.

Cameron Keighron

PhD Candidate, National University of Ireland, Galway

Speaker Bio

Dr Lucy-Ann Buckley

Senior Lecturer in Commercial Law, National University of Ireland, Galway

Speaker Bio

Dr Dinali Wijeratne

Postdoctoral Researcher, National University of Ireland Galway

Speaker Bio

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