Unity: How Staff and Learner Communities Drive Inclusion in Tertiary Education
“The good society was, a diverse yet harmonious, growing yet unified whole - a fully participatory democracy in which the powers and capacities of the individuals that comprised it were harmonized by their cooperative activities into a community that permitted the full and free expression of individuality.” – John Dewey
The community of professionals working to support equity and inclusion of people with disabilities in further and higher education, and to promote the wider concepts of universal design and UDL, is growing at a rapid pace. Equally, the welcome trend towards increased student partnership in tertiary education is providing more opportunities for learners to contribute meaningfully to this community, and the dialogue about policy and practice within it.
But what does all of that mean for the state of play regarding inclusion in tertiary education and the consistency of learner support? Is this growing community meaningfully and positively impacting on policy, practice and ultimately, student success? If so, how can we more closely align our communities, raise the voices of diverse staff and learners with them, and maximise their collective impact?
As Ireland moves towards a more unified tertiary education system, and more unified communities of policy makers, professional staff, educators and learners within these sectors, this conference will explore individual, institutional, national and international views on how we can leverage the power of community to drive equity and inclusion in the tertiary education system.
This event takes place over 2 days and will be available to attend hybrid or blended. Attendees will be able to choose an in-person ticket to attend the sessions live in Croke Park Stadium (Cusack entrance), or an online ticket if they wish to attend online.
Click the dropdowns below to explore the content for each day, or click on a day in the navigation bar above. Hover over speaker images to see speaker names, or click to see full bio.
- Dara Ryder, CEO, AHEAD
Dara Ryder CEO, AHEAD
Dara Ryder is Chief Executive Officer of AHEAD, having previously managed AHEAD’s digital presence and developed a suite of online CPD programmes relating to inclusive practice in his role as Digital Media and eLearning Manager there.
After graduating from Queens University in 2005, Dara joined Dun Laoghaire College of Further Education as a lecturer, where he became interested in inclusive education when working first-hand with students with disabilities in his classroom. When the opportunity arose in 2008, he joined AHEAD where he has been working ever since on creating inclusive environments in education and employment for people with disabilities.
Fiona Maloney National Tertiary Office
Dr Fiona Maloney is the Director of the National Tertiary Office, within the Higher Education Authority. In her role as Director her key focus is the advancement of partnerships between the ETBs and HEIs to develop a new model for joint further and higher education degree programmes that strengthen learner pathways and ensure access for everyone. The National Tertiary Office, in collaboration with ETB and HEI partners is advancing joint further and higher education degree across 13 disciplines this year.
Prior to this, Fiona was the Director of Further Education and Training with Education and Training Boards Ireland, from 2017 until 2023. Fiona has held a wide-ranging portfolio in the field of Further Education and Training and has a depth and breadth of sectoral knowledge that encompasses the delivery of complex transformational projects: systems planning, development and delivery, corporate governance, financial accountability, and risk management.
10:00 Student Panel: The National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee: Unifying the National Disabled Postgraduate Voice
- Dr Vivian Rath, National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee
Dr Vivian Rath National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee
Vivian is the Organiser of the National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee and the TCD Forum for Disabled Staff and Postgraduate Students. Vivian is an academic, a human and disability rights advocate and a change maker. He is currently an Adjunct Teaching Fellow in Trinity College Dublin (TCD) School of Education and the Research Officer with the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD). His Ph.D, titled the “social engagement experiences of disabled students in higher education in Ireland”, focused on the areas of disabled student social engagement, transitions, voice and belonging.
Dr Patricia McCarthy Associate Research Fellow. Trinity College Dublin
Dr Patricia McCarthy is Research Fellow in the School of Education TCD. Patricia’s ontological position as a disabled researcher is instrumental in her research, publications, academic work, and advocacy. Patricia is Co-Chair of TCD Staff Disability Working Group and Vice-Convenor of TCD Forum for Disabled Staff & Postgraduate Students
Catherine Gallagher Dublin City University
Catherine Gallagher is a disabled activist and a PhD student in DCU. Her research pertains to the journalism and political communication response to Covid-19 in Ireland. In her advocacy work, she focuses particularly on means-testing of disability supports, higher education, independent living, and the framing of disability.
Amy Hassett UCD
Amy Hassett is a disability advocate and a co-chairperson of Disabled Women Ireland (DWI), Ireland's national disabled person's organisation advocating for the rights of disabled self-identified women, girls and non-binary people. Originally from Wexford, Amy is also a neuroscience PhD student in UCD.
Dr Teresa Shiels University Limerick
Dr. Teresa Shiels is a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor who is a researcher and advocate in inclusive education, neurodiversity, and disability studies seeking to bring about change. She recently completed her PhD on the experience of living with TBI, and access to higher education in Ireland.
David Loughrey Trinity College Dublin / Dublin City University
David is a researcher in Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University where he is focused on hearing loss, cognition and improving access to educational content for sign language users.
- Lightning 1.1: The Crowd4Access/University of Galway footpath mapping initiative: Improving accessibility through collaborating in Citizen Science
Dr Deirdre McHugh, University of Galway
Dr Deirdre McHugh University of Galway
Dr Deirdre McHugh it the Campus Accessibility Project Coordinator in University of Galway, to improve the physical accessibility of the campus and to engage colleagues and students with accessibility and the principles of Universal Design, in line with university’s strategic values of openness and respect.
Brendan Smith Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics
Brendan Smith is the Education and Public Engagement Officer in Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics, University of Galway. He organises many technology initiatives including coding workshops and use of smart technologies for Citizen Science. A Science and Technology learning advocate, with extensive experience of delivering educational programmes in Ireland, Africa and the Middle East.
- Lightning 1.2: Inclusive Higher Education through an Algerian lens: Experiences of Disability Support Staff
Fatma Bouabida, University Of The West Of Scotland
Fatma Bouabida University Of The West Of Scotland
Fatma Bouabida is a 3rd year PhD student within the ESS school at the University of the West of Scotland. Before coming to Scotland, she completed two courses: a Bachelor course in English language and literature (2013-2016), and a Master course in Didactics and Applied Linguistics (2016- 2018), at Mustapha Stambouli University, Mascara, Algeria. Fatma successfully completed a pre-sessional programme at Canterbury Christ Church University, and a doctoral induction programme at the University of the West Of Scotland. Currently, she is working on investigating the experiences of students with disabilities in Algerian higher education, and her research is funded by the Algerian government.
- Lightning 1.3: Inclusive LMS (Learning Management System) for students with disabilities in HE
Amin Sharifi Isaloo, Department of Sociology and Criminology, UCC
Amin Sharifi Isaloo Department of Sociology and Criminology, UCC
Dr?Amin Sharifi?is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology & Criminology at University College Cork.?His fields of interests include race, ethnicity, migration and nationalism. His recent publications are ‘Liminality in the Direct Provisional system’ (2020) and ‘Liminality and Modern Racism (2021).
- Lightning 1.4: ‘Students with Disabilities on Placements: Guidance on the Provision of Reasonable Accommodations on Practice-based Placements in Professionally Accredited Programmes’: An Overview
Dr Vivian Rath, National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee Barbara Waters, Journal Editor, AHEAD
Barbara Waters Journal Editor, AHEAD
Barbara Waters is the Project Lead on the Reasonable Accommodations, Professional Placements (RAPP) Project, Barbara was Chief Executive of Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities, UK. 1996- 2010. Barbara represented Skill nationally on policy issues in education and disability related to post 16 education, training and employment. Since 2010 Barbara has worked as a researcher on further and higher education and disability. She was part of the LINK European network concerned with disabled students in higher education and has undertaken research on competence standards and learning outcomes in higher education for the Equality Challenge Unit, UK, published in 2015, looking particularly at Nursing, Teaching, Foreign Languages and STEM subjects. She was the evaluator of the Erasmus + programme on Universal Design for Learning completed in October 2016, and rapporteur for AHEAD Ireland in the MappED access programme with the Erasmus Student Network in 2017. Currently, she is the editor of the peer to peer Journal for AHEAD Ireland. She has an MA in Business and Public Sector Strategy and received an honorary doctorate from the Open University, UK.
10:45 Simultaneous Session: In Person Workshop 1 - Meaningfully Engaging with Learner Voice in Further Education & Training
- Denise O'Connor, Colaiste Dhulaigh College of Further Education
Denise O'Connor Colaiste Dhulaigh College of Further Education
Denise O'Connor is a tutor and Department Head in Colaiste Dhulaigh College of Further Education. She plays a significant role in the college in the area of learner support and learner voice. Denise has a Masters in Intercultural Studies and has recently completed the Postgraduate Diploma in Inclusive Education, Learner support and Special Education Needs in DCU. Denise has a keen interest in Universal Design for Learning and has represented the City of Dublin ETB in the area of Learner Voice and Inclusion.
Dr Richard Healy Research and Policy Officer, AHEAD
Richard is the new Research and Policy Officer at AHEAD, having taken up the role in May 2021. He has previously worked in Maynooth University, SURIA and for the Irish Prison Service, assisting prisoners post release to access employment and housing. Most of Richard’s work previous to AHEAD has been based on the realization of human rights and the attainment of tangible entitlements for vulnerable people.
- Lightning 2.1: Assistive technology and feeling valued: Promoting inclusion for students with disabilities in higher education
Dr Aoife McNicholl, Dublin City University
Dr Aoife McNicholl Dublin City University
Dr. Aoife McNicholl completed her PhD research on “Assistive technology outcomes and impacts among students with disabilities in higher education” in the School of Psychology in Dublin City University (DCU). She currently works as a part time lecturer in the School of Psychology and Universal Design Coordinator in DCU.
- Lightning 2.2: UDL in Midwifery Education: Nurturing Students’ Sense of Coherence Towards Learning
- Lightning 2.3: ENGAGE – An Online Learning Programme designed by Neurodivergent Educators for Neurodivergent Learners
Claire O'Neill, ENGAGE Programme designer and facilitator
Claire O'Neill ENGAGE Programme designer and facilitator
Claire is an experienced primary and post primary teacher and teacher educator. She is research active and currently researching different support approaches for Autistic teachers. Claire writes regularly about Autism, Positive Psychology, and strengths-based approaches and her first solo-authored book was published in February 2023. She is also Head of Training for Thriving Autistic, a Social Enterprise committed to championing the rights of neurodivergent people. Claire is herself neurodivergent and her lived experience is central to her professional and academic work.
- Lightning 2.4: Reasonable Accommodations for Disabled Staff in the Covid/Post-Covid Environment in Higher Education
Dr Vivian Rath, National Disabled Postgraduate Advisory Committee Fiona Smyth, University College Dublin
Fiona Smyth University College Dublin
Fiona is an Assoc Prof in the School of Art History and Cultural Policy at UCD where she specialises in the History of Architecture and Science.
11:55 Simultaneous Session: In Person Workshop 2 - UDL & the social/emotional aspects of learning: embedding mental wellbeing is everyone’s business
- Rachel Davies, De Montfort University Leicester
Rachel Davies De Montfort University Leicester
Course Specific Initiatives Officer
Rachel has worked as De Montfort University since 2017, as a disability officer and then in her current role, running a programme of embedded wellbeing workshops across the university. She is a member of DMU’s award winning Embedding Mental Wellbeing team.
Dr Kevin L. Merry De Montfort University
Kevin L. Merry is the Head of Academic Development at De Montfort University (DMU), a DMU Teacher Fellow, and Principal Fellow of Advance HE. An award-winning teacher, Kevin has received accolades for his pioneering approach to online learning via flipped classroom approaches and has become internationally renowned for his work on Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Kevin is the founder and chair of the UDL United Kingdom and Ireland HE Network (UDL-UKI). The purpose of the UDL-UKI network is to identify, promote and support the development of approaches, models, tools, and practices that enable effective UDL implementation in UK HE.
- Sophie Gahan, University College Cork
Sophie Gahan University College Cork
Instructional Designer in Digital Inclusion UCC
Sophie joined the Inclusive UCC team in June 2022, following an exciting 10-year career as an Instructional Designer in both private and public sector organisations. Sophie’s current role goes by the title ‘Instructional Designer in Digital Inclusion’ to emphasis the focus on accessibility.
James Northridge Project Manager for Inclusive UCC
Having Dyslexia and ADHD, James understands the learning challenges that students face. After struggling throughout school due to his own learning challenges and dropping out of University, a second chance came his way. He turned it around, earning a first-class honours degree from University College Cork and a Masters in Disability Studies from University College Dublin.
James is currently the Project Manager for UCC's innovative "Inclusive UCC" project, which is focused on making UCC a leader in Universal Design and Accessibility.
- Centre for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) Partnerships towards Inclusive UCC
- Harnessing the power of everyday technology to break down the barriers to assistive technology usage in learning
- Virtual reality in inclusive and universal teaching in the life sciences
- Inclusive pedagogy in online simulation-based learning in undergraduate nursing education: an experience-based co-design approach
- Navigating UDL from the inside-out; ‘An insight into an award-winning approach to UDL collaboration.’
- Supervising Supports in tertiary education
- Embedding UDL into an accredited professional development programme for Higher Education teachers
- Fostering collaboration to support the ADHD Student: An IADT Story
- Access UCC EmployAbility
- Bookshare Ireland: Collaboration, Accessibility and Inclusion
- Overcoming public speaking anxiety by using virtual reality (VR) for presentation practice
- Group Needs Assessments: Can an Individual Needs Assessment take place in a Group Setting
- Three-dimensional generation of anatomical structures via activity-based learning and research-teaching interaction
- Inclusive higher education through an Algerian lens
- Empowering autistic students to succeed at third level: What can you do?
- Recorded Lectures, a Reasonable Accommodation? Lessons Learnt at UCC
10:00 Student Panel: Learning from Lived Experiences of Students with Intellectual Disabilities in Tertiary Education
- Des Aston, National & Schools Coordinator, Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (TCPID), School of Education, Trinity College Dublin
Des Aston National & Schools Coordinator, Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (TCPID), School of Education, Trinity College Dublin
Des Aston is the National & Schools Coordinator at the Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (TCPID), School of Education, Trinity College Dublin. His research interests are inclusive education, post-school transitions to education and employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. Through his professional role with TCPID, he has established and is the current Chairperson of the Inclusive National Higher Education Forum (INHEF).
- Lightning 1.1: The use of inclusive e-learning academic tools to support under-represented HEA target groups in higher education
Aislinn Ryan, National Learning Network
Aislinn Ryan National Learning Network
Aislinn Ryan is an Assistant Psychologist at the National Learning Network, based within Maynooth University Access Programme. Aislinn’s interests include supporting students who are underrepresented at higher education.
Sandra Collins Maynooth University
Sandra Collins is a Community and Youth work Practitioner working in Maynooth University Access Programme. Sandra’s interests are in working with communities who have has fewer opportunities within society and to create spaces for empowerment and social justice.
- Lightning 1.2: The accessibility dream: An idea to future proof accessibility for staff and students
Trevor Boland, Dublin City University
Trevor Boland Dublin City University
Trevor Boland is an experienced Assistive Technology Officer working in Higher Education supporting Students with disabilities. He previously lectured in the Access programme for non-traditional students in TU Dublin.
Trevor was previously the Digital and eLearning Officer in AHEAD and has been involved in the National rollout of the UDL Badge with UCD and the Teaching and Learning Forum.
- Lightning 1.3: UDL: From Episodic to Systemic Change
Kate Molloy, University of Galway
Kate Molloy University of Galway
Kate Molloy is a Learning Technologist with the Centre for Excellence in Learning. Her work focuses on the informed and ethical use of technology in higher education, learning design, inclusive teaching, and open practice. Kate is Secretary, National Executive of the?Computers in Education Society of Ireland (CESI).
Dr Daniel Savery National University of Ireland, Galway
Dr Daniel Savery is Access Programme and Further Education to Higher Education Coordinator at NUI Galway. For the last four years, he has been directly involved in increasing the number of full-time undergraduate opportunities available for Further Education and Training (FET) students at NUI Galway. Daniel also currently teaches sociology and political theory at NUI Galway, and his primary recent interests concern the nature of freedom and domination in contemporary theories of justice.
- Lightning 1.4: A UDL approach to reducing the effects of Glossophobia
Dr Liam Morris, Atlantic Technological University - Galway
Dr Liam Morris Atlantic Technological University - Galway
Liam is a Lecturer in Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Department at ATU Galway City and is programme chair for Biomedical Engineering. He is a principal investigator and academic director within the MET Gateway. His main research area is in biomedical engineering. Liam integrates his research with undergraduate teaching and learning.
10:45 Simultaneous Session: In Person Workshop 1 - Designing a UDL Curriculum Design – Creating an inclusive recipe one module at a time!
- Maureen Haran, PhD(c), SFHEA, Atlantic Technological University
Maureen Haran, PhD(c), SFHEA Atlantic Technological University
Lecturer in UDL and Manager of the UDL HE Centre of Excellence, ATU. Programme Chair Teaching, Learning & Assessment
A national UDL leader, Lecturer Maureen Haran manages the UDL Centre of Excellence at Atlantic Technological University. Maureen works with educational development teams to design and implement inclusive education practices at regional and national levels. She is the programme chair and Lecturer on the Post Graduate Certificate/ MA in UDL.
Dr Niamh Plunkett Atlantic Technological University
Dr Niamh Plunkett has over 20 years' experience in Higher Education. In her current role as Head of Teaching & Learning at ATU, Sligo Niamh’s role is to manage and develop the strategic planning of, and delivery of the academic support programmes offered by the College. She also facilitates and manages the provision of educational developments in the College including the establishment and operation of Academic Support Centres to underpin student and staff learning.
- Lightning 2.1: Mental health crisis – support for a student and teacher
Katarzyna Jach, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Poland
Katarzyna Jach Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Poland
Katarzyna Jach is the Rector’s Plenipotentiary for Persons?with Disabilities at Wroc?aw University of Science and Technology (Wroclaw Tech), Poland. She is an associate professor and a head of Laboratory of Ergonomics at the Faculty of Management at Wroclaw Tech. She has been specializing in different ways of including people with special needs into work and educational environment.
Elżbieta Zienkiewicz Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Poland
El?bieta Zienkiewicz is an associate professor and an acredited tutor at Wroclaw University of Science and Technology (Wroclaw Tech), Poland. She organizes the teaching of a key subject for first-year students. A key-member of the Centre of Teaching and Learning at Wroclaw Tech.
- Lightning 2.2: Mentors in the Workplace: The Experiences of Mentors working with TCPID Graduates
- Lightning 2.3: Capturing The Student Voice to Effect Real Change
Siobhán Dunne is Head of Teaching, Research and User Experience at the Library of Trinity College Dublin. Prior to this, she held the roles of Research Support and Humanities Librarian at Dublin City University and Library and Information Manager at the National Disability Authority.?Siobhán is a passionate advocate for Open Scholarship and lifelong learning. She is a member of the Trinity Inclusive Curriculum Advisory Board and has recently received a Digital Badge in Universal Design for Learning.
Geraldine Fitzgerald Subject Librarian, Library of Trinity College Dublin
Geraldine Fitzgerald is Subject Librarian for the School of Education and the School of Psychology in Trinity College Dublin. Prior to working in TCD, Geraldine worked in a number of special, corporate and academic libraries in Ireland and Sweden. Geraldine is passionate about improving the user experience of students and has developed a number of digital resources including tutorials and floor plans to aid way finding. She is presently collaborating with a colleague in the School of Education to establish a new online journal in the area of Inclusive Education.
- Lightning 2.4: A culture of inclusion: Reimagining the university as a place for students with intellectual disabilities
Dr Nicola Maxwell, University College Cork (UCC)
Dr Nicola Maxwell University College Cork (UCC)
Nicola is a Lecturer in Applied Social Studies at University College Cork, and Academic Development Lead on the id+ Project. She obtained her PhD from the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at University of Galway, exploring rights to self-determination and community inclusion within day services for adults with intellectual disabilities.
Prof Maire Leane Head of School of Applied Social Studies, UCC
Máire Leane (PhD) is Professor in Social Policy and Head of the School of Applied Social Studies UCC.
In 2009 she established the Certificate in Contemporary Living (CCL) course for adults with intellectual disability (https://www.ucc.ie/en/contemporaryliving/ ) and served as Programme Director until 2020.
Máire is currently a Co-PI on an Erasmus + ‘Inclusive Postsecondary Education Programme for Students with Intellectual Disabilities’, (2019-2022).
11:55 Simultaneous Session: In Person Workshop 2 - Creating an Inclusive Institution Together – UD Approaches
- Dr Laura Lee, Research Manager for CIRTL, UCC
Dr Laura Lee Research Manager for CIRTL, UCC
Dr Laura Lee is the Research Manager in the Centre for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL).
Dr Anna Santucci Senior Lecturer for CIRTL, UCC
Anna Santucci (Brown University PhD, USA) is Senior Lecturer in UCC’s Centre for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning. She was previously Faculty Development Specialist at University of Rhode Island (USA). Her international trans-disciplinary work focuses on critically inclusive pedagogies informed by applied theatre, performance theory, language pedagogy, and intercultural education. Anna is lead PI on current “Inclusive University” UCC project funded under Path 4 Strand 1 from the HEA.
13:40 Keynote - Tackling the two solitudes. Bridging the conflicting lived realities of faculty and accessibility personnel within UDL implementation
- Dr FrÃ©dÃ©ric Fovet, Thompson Rivers University
Dr Frédéric Fovet Thompson Rivers University
Frédéric has been involved in UDL scholarship and research for over a decade within Canada. He acts as a UDL and inclusion consultant with colleges and universities both domestically and internationally. He is an Assistant Professor in Education but has also in the past held the position of head of accessibility at McGill University for a period of four years, and therefore has a unique multi-stakeholder perspective on UDL adoption in the post-secondary sector.