GATHER takes place over 3 mornings fully online. Sessions will be recorded and made available after the event.
Click the dropdowns below to explore the content for each day including slides, or click on a day in the navigation bar above. Hover over speaker images to see speaker names, or click to see full bio.
- Dr Richard Healy, Research and Policy Officer, AHEAD
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.
- Erica Meslin, Education Manager, AHEAD
Erica Meslin Education Manager, AHEAD
Erica Meslin is the Education Manager with AHEAD. She is an experienced leader in the inclusion field bringing in a diverse background of working with marginalized and disadvantaged communities internationally. Erica is passionate about accessibility and inclusion in education settings and is happy to play a key role with AHEAD’s education team.
James Wright Aventido
James is a Product Specialist for Aventido working with LIGHTKEY. Being Neurodivergent himself James prides himself on educating others on his dyslexia and how Technology helps him. Working primarily within the Disabled Students Allowance and Access to Work in the United Kingdom, James helps students access education at all stages
Ryan Peacock Aventido
Ryan is a Product Specialist at Aventido working with wide range of assistive technology such as MindMeister. With over 10 years’ experience working with neurodiverse students within the DSA sector, Ryan has a breadth of knowledge and understanding how assistive technology can help support students who have learning challenges.
- Ailis Mardon-Egan, National Adult Literacy Agency
Ailis Mardon-Egan National Adult Literacy Agency
Ailis Mardon-Egan is an eLearning Engagement Officer at Ireland’s National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA). Ailis leads the development and implementation of learner engagement and outreach strategies for Learn with NALA, an online learning platform that supports adults to improve their literacy, numeracy and digital skills. Ailis is passionate about using technology to enhance the learning experience and is always looking for new ways to engage learners and meet their needs.
Prior to her role in NALA, Ailis spent over 10 years working in the private and not-for-profit sector with a variety of experience in fundraising, digital marketing, communications, and CRM development. Her educational background includes history, business management, digital marketing, digital education, data analytics and digital learning design.
Elaine Cohalan National Adult Literacy Agency
Elaine Cohalan is Innovation Manager and has been part of the senior management team at Ireland’s National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) since early 2019.
Elaine leads national services for NALA (Learn with NALA) that support adult literacy learners in addressing their unmet needs in literacy, numeracy and digital literacy. This includes a one-to-one personalised tuition service, online learning, resources and supports.
Elaine also leads NALA’s professional development services for adult literacy practitioners. These are delivered through events, training, online learning and resources.
A core part of this work involves initiating and driving innovative approaches to NALA’s services through educational technology and research.
Prior to her role in NALA, Elaine spent over 12 years working in various private and public further education, training and Educational Technology organisations in Ireland in project management and leadership roles. Her educational background spans many areas including software development, cognitive science, business, management and leadership.
Pauline Hensey National Adult Literacy Agency
- 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.
Dr James Casey ILMI
Dr James Casey currently works for ILMI as the policy officer, he previously worked on the Onside Project. He holds a PhD in Critical Disability Studies from the University of Galway where he was the recipient of a Doctoral Teaching Fellowship. He is a disabled person and has worked as a teacher, disability equality consultant and communications worker in addition to his continued role as a peer reviewer with several international journals and his tenuous forays as a writer.
- 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.
Dr Zeta Dooley SETU
Dr Zeta Dooly is a Lecturer in Digital Education, and Programme Lead for the PG Cert in Technology Enhanced Learning in the School of Education and Lifelong Learning at the South East Technological University. Zeta has 15+ years academic experience; teaching, supervising and researching. Zeta has led and participated in funded research from European Commission, H2020, Horizon Europe and National agencies (HEA, HSE, National Forum Enterprise Ireland, SFI). Zeta was shortlisted for SETU Teaching excellence award in 2021
My core research interests are digital education, technology and learning. My vision is to promote educational transformation for Universities of the Future. My research to date has been primarily centred in knowledge and technology: First, my scholarship explored network theory in the context of research networks where academia and industry organisations collaborate. Previously, my research delved into cybersecurity, investigating privacy, identity and trust inherent in organisational systems and processes. Recently my research has focused on education and employment looking at Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), the design of ethical algorithms for public administration of job seekers, Immersive Learning Environments and the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Furthermore, I am leading the establishment of the, South East Education Research Lab (SEERLab) within SETU where research includes Student experience, emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Extended Reality (XR), Neurodiversity in HE, and teaching, learning and assessment with Artificial Intelligence.
Zeta is a member of SETU’s Academic Council and the SETU Academic Development, Learning and Teaching Committee and has contributed significantly to Assessment in the Generative Ai era, Online learning and Assessment Guidelines and SETU Micro credential Policy.
Zeta has been invited as Expert evaluator, Observer and Rapporteur with the European Commission in programs in ICT, Research and Education.
Zeta is appointed to the Corporate and Midlands Health Service Executive (HSE) Research Ethics Committee (2022-2025). Zeta has been an invited speaker with Dept. of Taoiseach at the Data Summit numerous events with Enterprise Ireland and at Trinity’s Cyber Summit in the Science Gallery.
Prior to joining academia Zeta had an international career in Senior Software Engineer roles and as QA Software Manager with Sun Life Financial, NuaPublish, WestPac and Ericsson.
Specialties: Immersive learning environments, Neurodiversity in HE, Digital Education, Digital Transformation, Recognition of Prior Learning, Policy and Practice, Knowledge Management, Network theory, Identity, Trust and Privacy, Innovation and entrepreneurship.
Majella McCarthy SETU Waterford
Majella Mc Carthy, SETU, Waterford. Majella works in the Disability Office at SETU Waterford. Majella works in the area of Assistive Technology (AT) where her role entails supporting students with disabilities. Majella also leads an Assistive Technology Outreach programme where she trains students, staff and educators on AT to support students with disabilities attending post primary schools in Waterford and throughout the SETU catchment area.
Mary Walsh O'Shea WWETB
Mary is an Adult Education Officer with WWETB with responsibility for Certified Training and the Adult Guidance Service. Mary has worked for over 20 years in the adult education sector. She is very interested in the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning. She is currently Project Lead for the development and implementation of a bespoke Virtual Reality training simulator to use for teaching, learning and assessment of curriculum content of some of the Level 5 QQI Healthcare Support modules.
Janet O'Neill SETU
- William Nolan, University Limerick
William Nolan University Limerick
William is a Learning Technologist specialising in Assistive Technology at the University of Limerick. Visually Impaired since birth, William has been an assistive technology user throughout his life, and is always keen to explore new solutions.
Dr Esther Murphy Trinity College Dublin
Dr Esther Murphy is Principal Investigator for EIT Health funded Digi-ID: accessible digital skills education programme for people with intellectual disabilities" at Trinity College Dublin School of Engineering.
She holds a PhD in Disability Studies and MA in Intercultural Studies from Dublin City University, Ireland. With 15 years + experience in social science disability, mental health and inclusive technology research in academia, NGOs and collaborations with industry Esther is passionate about building trans-disciplinary citizen engaged research to co-create innovative impactful solutions to address societal challenges.
- 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.
Laocín Brennan AHEAD
Laocín Brennan is AHEAD's Team Support Officer. His time in AHEAD began in June 2021 as GETAHEAD's first intern. Since joining the organisation Laocín has been involved in many projects with AHEAD. He takes particularly great pride in his work on events (Building the Future, Better Options and, now, Power of Disability), content creating (Allyship and GetAHEAD blogs) and public speaking (Language & Disability WAMinar, training events and, soon, Power of Disability)
Laocín's passion for advocacy dates back farther than his involvement with AHEAD. He was the founder of DCU’s Neurodivergent Society, the first of its kind in Europe. During his time in DCU, he found that his vocation was not in engineering and found himself gravitating towards his volunteer work, which continues to give him purpose, pride and joy.
He is passionate about human rights and believes intersectionality is the only way towards a just, equal and idyllic society. Laocín valued his morals from a young age, but only began to become cognisant of ableism in 2013, upon receiving the first of many diagnosises. Now, Lao?ín is pursuing a career in disability advocacy with vigour in the hopes of being the change he wants to see in the world.
- Rohan Slaughter, University of Dundee
Rohan Slaughter University of Dundee
Rohan has over 20 years’ experience of supporting technology in the education sector. Rohan has an IT, assistive technology and education management background, and is a qualified teacher. Rohan joined the University of Dundee as a senior lecturer in Assistive Technology in November 2020. This role has been created to support the MSc in Educational Assistive Technology.
Rohan has worked on organisational strategy, general management and led a number of national-scale assistive technology projects. Rohan has undertaken consultancy work for large general further education colleges, higher education institutions, specialist colleges and schools in the areas of assistive technology, IT and technology and the integration of such with the curriculum.
Between September 2015 and October 2020, Rohan worked for Jisc, the EdTech not-for-profit that provides educational technology services and support to colleges and universities. As a member of the subject specialist consultancy group Rohan provided support to Jisc member organisations on assistive technology, accessibility, and infrastructure systems. Rohan has worked on various policy projects inclusive of supporting the DfE’s EdTech strategy through his membership of the DfE’s AT experts’ group and gave evidence at the House of Lords HE commission for disabled students experience early in 2020.
At Beaumont College Rohan led the development of the integrated ‘technology team’ consisting of both mainstream IT staff and assistive technologists who work with students and other specialist staff to deploy assistive technology/IT hardware and software solutions.
During Rohan’s time at Beaumont College he led a number of national education sector projects such as the Jisc funded DART (disseminating assistive roles and technology) project. The Dart curriculum has informed the design of the MSc in Educational Assistive Technology that is being developed and delivered at the University of Dundee from January 2021.
In 2014 Rohan completed an MSc by research in computing and communication systems at Lancaster University that focused on how home automation/internet of things technology can be made accessible to disabled people.
Rohan was chair of the Natspec technology advisory group until July 2015 and continues to be a member of this strategic group. Rohan is vice-chair of the Karten Network board, where he works to support assistive technology use in the network of ~100 Karten Centres. The Karten Trust part funds the Natspec TechAbility assistive technology service, Rohan is part of the TechAbility steering group.
Patrick Fitzgerald St. John of God's
Patrick Fitzgerald?has championed the use of AT and digital inclusion since 2015. He is a strong self-advocate for adults with intellectual disabilities and would like more opportunities in the digital workforce. Patrick recently represented SJOG in the UN, Vienna accepting the Zero Project Award 2023 for Co-Designing Accessible Apps.
- Treasa McGinley, Donegal ETB
Treasa McGinley Donegal ETB
Treasa Mc Ginley has been the Professional Development & Technology Enhanced Coordinator in Donegal ETBs FET Service since October 2019, prior to that position, she worked in Donegal ETB's Literacy programme and Youthreach programme. Her background is in Psychology and recently she has developed a keen interest in educational technologies to enhance the teaching and learning experience for all students.
Angela McElhinney Donegal ETB
Angela McElhinney has been a Teacher in the Donegal ETB Further Education Training Service (FET) for 20 years and is a Facilitator for the AHEAD Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Badge. Angela is also currently completing a PhD with Mary Immaculate College Limerick and is conducting research into the use of UDL in the Irish FET Sector.
- Brendan Ryan, LCETB
Brendan Ryan LCETB
Cian O'Tiarnaigh LCETB
Cian O’Tiarnaigh is the Learning Hub Coordinator working with the Active Inclusion Support Service (AISS) in a Community Education Facilitator (CEF) leadership role with Limerick and Clare ETB.
Cian joined LCETB as a Resource Worker with Core Skills (Adult Literacy) before moving into the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) field running the Learning Hub in the FET Centre, O’Connell Avenue, Limerick City.
Cian graduated in Marketing Management and later joined the FET sector, completing a Graduate Diploma in Adult and Further Education in Mary Immaculate College (UL). Following on from his experiences in adult literacy, a further Diploma in TEL from NUIG led Cian to Learner Supports where he promotes diversity and inclusion while managing the development of the Learning Hubs throughout LCETB.
Active Inclusion Support Service – Learning Hub Coordinator
Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board.
Angela Costelloe SETU
Disability Officer with South East Technology University (SETU) Kilkenny Rd. Carlow with a special interest in Assistive Technology (AT). Trainer of AT through the SOAR Enabling Transitions PATH 3 project. Lead of the AT sub-group of the Disability Advisors Working Network (DAWN). Member of the Steering Committee of PATH 4 Intellectual Disability. Registered Trainer of Read and Write software
Deirdre Madden UCC
Deirdre Madden is a B.Sc. graduate of UCC and has worked in the disability and education field for over 15 years. She was the computer trainer with Enable Ireland Cork Adult services for 15 years. She has tutored on the ICT module of UCC’s Certificate in Contemporary Living course aimed at adults with intellectual disabilities. She joined the Disability Support Service in UCC in March 2012 to take up the new role of Assistive Technology Outreach Co-ordinator. Her role is to enhance access and transition to higher level education for students with disabilities through promoting awareness and use of assistive technology in second level education. More recently, Deirdre has worked on the SOAR PATH Enabling Transitions Programme, a cross institutional programme with MTU Tralee and Cork, SETU Carlow and Waterford and UCC on building assistive technology competency and adoption amongst education providers, students and parents. She has created this free Technology to Make Learning Easier course/resource on free/built in tech to make reading, writing, planning and studying easier as part of the SOAR PATH Enabling transitions resources.
- Marie Cox, National Rehabilitation Hospital
Marie Cox National Rehabilitation Hospital
Marie Cox is Senior Speech & Language Therapist and Practice Tutor at the National Rehabilitation Hospital Dublin. She has over a decade of experience working in the neurorehabilitation setting. She holds an honours degree in Psychology from Trinity College Dublin and a postgraduate professional qualification in Speech & Language Therapy from Queen Margaret University Edinburgh. She has a special interest in the area of assistive technology and has been involved in the establishment and development of the Assistive Technology Clinic at the National Rehabilitation Hospital Dublin.
Sharon Leahy National Rehabilitation Hospital
Sharon graduated in Occupational Therapy from the National University of Ireland Galway in 2014 with a first class honours degree. Sharon has specialised in the area of neuro rehabilitation and is currently working in the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. She has worked across all programmes in the NRH; brain injury, spinal card injury, limb absence and paediatrics. She has a specialist interest in the area of Assistive Technology (AT) and currently runs an Inter disciplinary AT clinic with speech and language therapy. Sharon has represented the NRH at several national and international conferences presenting in the areas of assistive technology, brain injury and spinal cord injury.
Aoife Keaney Rehab Group
Aoife Keaney is the Digital and Assistive Technology Officer for Rehab Group working across our RehabCare and National Learning Network services nationally. She is Assistive Technology curious which moved to Assistive Technology obsessed – Aoife is passionate about finding solutions for participation and inclusion in partnership with people with disabilities. She is always keen to demonstrate that UDL and Assistive Technology are complementary supports that enable all students to experience the benefits and improved outcomes of UDL designed and delivered teaching practices.
Connect with Aoife at Aoife Keaney LinkedIn
Anne Marie McDonnell National Learning Network
Anne Marie McDonnell is Head of Service Design with Rehab Group. She is a qualified Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor with over 20 years’ experience in delivery and management of inclusive training and employment services. She also worked as a consultant in MENA on the introduction of Disability Inclusive Public Employment Services.