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AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
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Press release - Put lecture notes online, says AHEAD

Just one in six (17%) of blind / visually impaired students go to third level

Tuesday 28th April, 2009: A symposium of education experts drafted a ‘Charter for Inclusive Teaching and Learning’ for third-level students, at a meeting today in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. The charter aims to formalise good practices that exist in many Irish universities with respect to students with disabilities and their other classmates.

Ann Heelan, who is the Director of AHEAD (the Association for Higher Education Access & Disability) the event organisers, is keen to highlight how changes that help students with disabilities can help all students:

Big improvements can be made at third level simply by making good use of the technology available. By putting lecture notes online, students with visual and other impairments can prepare for lectures where note taking is not an option for them. At present, just one in six students (1) who are blind or visually impaired make it into third level education. Universities should make study easier for people with disabilities, not because it’s the right or moral thing to do, but because such changes benefit all students. Blind students make up less than 1% of the student population, but when you consider that up to 10% (2) of students have dyslexia, the application becomes much broader.

Ann Heelan applauds many of the colleges around Ireland who have already adopted the practice of uploading lecture notes, but she says there is a lot more that colleges can do to make students feel fully part of college life.

Predictably it is the more traditional colleges that would have the lowest rate of notes being made available online. The main reason is they have concerns about student performance, yet students learn in many different ways.

Other provisions on the Charter for Inclusive Teaching and Learning include:

  • Flexible assessments of outcomes
  • Taking a quality assurance approach – the student as a customer with different learning needs
  • Courses to be designed to include all students, including those with disabilities

ENDS

(1) Higher Education Authority (HEA), calculated from enrolment numbers.

(2) The Dyslexia Association of Ireland. www.dyslexia.ie

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