Third Level/Further Education Supports
Both the Universities and the Institutes of Technology have a specific staff member whose responsibility it is to support students with disabilities. Disability Officers work in the Universities and Access Officers work in the Institutes of Technology. The role of the Disability/Access Officer is to work collaboratively with students with disabilities in arranging supports that a student with a disability may need while they are in college. Such supports may include, assistive technology, examination arrangements, organising additional tuition or support during lectures. In addition to the Disability Office, some institutions now also have an Assistive Technology Officer offering advice and support specifically in the selection and application of assistive technology for students with disabilities. Contact AHEAD for more information on Third Level/Further Education Supports.
Students with a disability who need a Personal Assistant for the hours that they are in college can apply to the Fund for Students with Disabilities. The Department of Education and Skills, with assistance from the European Social Fund, operates a scheme towards the provision of services and the purchase of equipment for students with disabilities attending courses in third level institutions. The scheme applies to students who have serious sensory, physical and/or communicative disabilities. The range of provision under the scheme includes the allocation of funding for Personal Assistants in order to allow students with disabilities to enter, partake in and complete their course of study. Contact AHEAD for more information on Third Level/Further Education Supports.
Students with disabilities can access certain facilities during examinations if they need them. These can include:
- extra time
- transcription of examinations
- enlarged examination papers
- tape recording of examinations
- Brailled examination papers
- tape recording of examinations
- use of assistive technology
- provision of individual rooms
- sitting examinations in an alternative centre, such as a hospital
- sign language interpreters.
The Disability/Access Officer should know as soon as possible about any supports needed for examinations so they have plenty of time to organise whatever accommodations are required.
Some of the larger educational institutions will provide a reader service for students with disabilities. Texts are read and recorded on audio-tape either by volunteers or paid staff. These tapes are kept in a library catalogue and can be used by any student requiring the material in audio format.
Learning support aims to improve and underpin learning skills by providing students with several learning strategies to assist them in their studies. Learning support facilitates students with a variety of problems in relation to written language, including dyslexia and dyspraxia. The sessions are not about academic support, the understanding that at third level the students are in control of their own learning.
A learning support tutor helps to assess students learning needs, such as lecture notes, sign language interpretation and note taking. They initiate individual programmes of learning support, communicate the programmes of learning support to all staff working with students, monitor students progress and liaise with staff on behalf of the students as they progress through their course. Learning support can take many forms. It can be individual sessions, group sessions, once off sessions, regular meetings and so on. Some of the skills taught are:
- study skills eg reviewing notes, revising
- time management helping the student set goals, plan and maximise their time
- reading techniques to develop or enhance reading skills facilitating the easy identification of relevant areas
- note-taking strategies identifying and developing preferred note taking style
- memory techniques skills that help to reinforce ability to learn, remember, revise and recollect
- essay writing applying a combination of different skills to specific assignments
- examination strategies understanding questions and terminology, planning and formatting answers etc
- research skills where and how to look for information.
For more information on all aspects of access to and participation in third level education in Ireland, contact:
PO Box 30
Tel: 01-716 4396