Day 1 will consist of talks, presentations and discussions with students who work closely with AHEAD, members of the AHEAD employment team and CEO. 

This day will focus on students and their lived experience in colleges and FET's around the country.  We will also hear from two exciting groups; the Students with Disabilities Advisory Group and the NDPAC. These groups are very important to the work AHEAD and USI does, as they inform the policy making and research efforts. 

11:15 AM- 11:45 AM: Welcome and Introduction with the Students with Disabilities Advisory Group

This session will introduce the Students with Disabilities Advisory Group for the year 2023-2024. 

The SwDAG is a  diverse group of students working to promote accessible and inclusive learning environments.

The enthusiastic and engaged members will inform the strategy and policy of AHEAD and USI concerning the inclusion of students with disabilities in Higher and Further Education. The group will bring a strong disabled student voice into FET and HE policy.

The group is co-chaired by James Curry, Vice President for Equality and Citizenship at USI and Leesa Flynn, who has been a member of the committee for the past two years.


11:45 AM- 12:35 PM: Diversity of Learners/ Social Engagement 

In this talk, Dara and Richard will explore increasing diversity in further and higher education. They will also introduce a Universal Design Approach and use research of the student experience to show why it matters.

Slides available here. 

Dara Ryder


Speaker Bio

Dr Richard Healy

Research and Policy Officer, AHEAD

Speaker Bio

12:35 PM Small Comfort Break

13:00 PM-14:30 PM: Developing of a disabled postgraduate advocacy community

This session will be led by Dr. Vivian Rath, and the NDPAC (National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee). 

The session will be a panel of Postgraduate and PhD students, discussing how the current statistics of students with disabilities studying at postgraduate level in Ireland, their current experience and explore how to grow the community. 

Slides available here

Dr Vivian Rath

National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee

Speaker Bio

Alexa MacDermot

Postgraduate student- UCD

Speaker Bio

Sinead Lynch

PhD Student- DCU

Speaker Bio

Sarah Anne Dudley

Postgraduate student- UCD

Speaker Bio

Aoife Price

Researcher on the Disability Advocacy Research in Europe (DARE project), European Disability Forum.

Speaker Bio

14:30 PM- 15:40 PM: Lunch Break

15:45 PM-16:30 PM: Assistive Technology

This session will be led by a student of the Students with Disabilities Advisory Group, Steven Bradley.

Steven is an active member of the group, and has a special knowledge of Assistive Technologies available to students in FET and HEI's. 


Slides available here.

Steven Bradley


Speaker Bio

16:30 PM- 17:00 PM: What's next? WAM

GetAHEAD is an initiative of AHEAD which has been running since 2005. It is a network of student and graduates with disabilities currently making the transition from third-level education to full time employment.
GetAHEAD works to up-skill graduates with disabilities by providing training events and valuable information covering a wide range of topics and resources which we will be discussing. 
The WAM programme is the transition to employment initiative of AHEAD. It offers graduates with disabilities the benefit of a 6 month minimum fully paid and mentored work internship with high profile employers.
WAM was established in 2005 and, to date, have placed over 650 graduates with both private and public sector employers. 
Slides available here. 

Banba Fitzgerald


Speaker Bio

Philip Carroll

AHEAD- WAM Project Officer

Speaker Bio

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