AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
Creating inclusive environments in education & employment for people with disabilities.


Definition of Disability

The legal definition of disability stipulated in the Employment Equality Act 1998 and Equal Status Acts (2000) as amended, defines disability as follows:

  1. “the total or partial absence of a person’s bodily or mental functions, including the absence of a part of a person’s body,
  2. the presence in the body of organisms causing or likely to cause, chronic disease or illness,
  3. the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of a person’s body,
  4. a condition or malfunction which results in a person learning differently from a person without the condition or malfunction, or
  5. a condition, illness or disease which affects a person’s thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement or which results in disturbed behaviour.”

and shall be taken to include a disability which exists at present, or which previously existed but no longer exists, or which may exist in the future or which is imputed to a person.”

The Disability Act 2005 refers to:

“disability”, in relation to a person, means a substantial restriction in the capacity of the person to carry on a profession, business or occupation in the State or to participate in social or cultural life in the State by reason of an enduring physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual impairment.” Substantial restriction means a restriction that is permanent (or likely to be permanent) which results in significant difficulty in communication, learning or mobility and means that the person has a need for services to be provided on a continuous basis.

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About the Road Map for Inclusion

'Inclusive Learning and the Provision of Reasonable Accommodations to Students with Disabilities in Higher Education in Ireland' is part of a series of outputs produced by the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD), in collaboration with the Disability Advisers Working Network (DAWN). It brings together two years of research on the inclusion of students with disabilities in higher education and concludes that an inclusive approach based on Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles would provide an effective framework to include and improve the retention of, not only students with disabilities, but a diverse range of students including migrants, mature students, international students, and students from different socio-economic backgrounds.

The values underpinning the Road Map series are explained in the following video:

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Creating Inclusive Environments in Education and Employment for People with Disabilities

East Hall, UCD, Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin.
T +353 1 592 1467 E ahead@ahead.ie W www.ahead.ie RCN 20025182