Reasonable Accommodations & Professional Placements Project
Thursday, 3rd June 2021
The HEA is funding AHEAD to carry out the Reasonable Accommodations and Profession Placements (RAPP) Project, and AHEAD will undertake this in co-operation with the Disability Advisors Working Network (DAWN).
DAWN and AHEAD have collectively identified serious issues arising for students with disabilities undertaking courses/programmes featuring professional placements which have competence standards set by national professional bodies, in terms of accessing appropriate reasonable accommodations to demonstrate their competency. These issues are particularly prevalent in health/medical and teaching courses where students are often going in to a placement environment where there may be unfounded fears of risk to student/patient safety raised when students with disabilities are preparing for placement.
While many professional bodies in these fields have commitments to equality and diversity within their professional standards, AHEAD research highlights that students with disabilities are significantly underrepresented on courses in the fields of ‘Health and Welfare’ and ‘Education’.
- To research and review barriers and examples of good practice to allow students with disabilities to achieve course competency standards in an appropriate manner.
- To provide national guidance supported by the HEA and, if possible relevant Professional Bodies, to provide clarity on the application of reasonable accommodations in national competency-based courses. It is anticipated guidance will include examples of good practice and case studies.
The Project will take a consultative approach. A core Steering Group is being set up, led by AHEAD and DAWN, with representation from USI, faculty members from health and education and national stakeholder representatives. Up to 4 core Steering Group meetings will take place during the life of the project, with the final meeting in March 2022 to consider the final draft guidance before presentation to the HEA.
A minimum of four subject-based consultation groups will be formed focusing on:
- Nursing and midwifery
- Professions allied to medicine
- Related FET courses/pathways
Additionally, a student and recent graduates with disabilities consultation group will be formed. Consultation with these groups will guide the research and inform the development of the guidance.
The Project will be led for AHEAD by Barbara Waters who will be supported by RAPP Project Research Officer Dr. Vivian Rath.
RAPP Project Lead - Barbara Waters
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.
Barbara is supported in the project by Dr. Vivian Rath as RAPP Project Research Officer.
RAPP Project Research Officer – Dr Vivian Rath
Vivian completed his Ph.D in Trinity College Dublin on the social engagement experiences of disabled students in higher education in Ireland. Prior to that he obtained a master’s in management from UCD Smurfit Business School where he researched the employment of graduates with disabilities. He is a member of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Disability Advisory Committee and acted as rapporteur for the IHREC reasonable accommodation in practice conference. He is an appointee to the National Disability Stakeholders Group. Vivian has worked in higher education for over ten years and is an adjunct teaching fellow in Trinity College Dublin where he lectures on disability and human rights. He received a TCD Equality Champion Award for his work promoting equality and diversity with the institution. He has extensive experience of empowering disabled people to access their right to education and employment opportunities.
RAPP project planning started in April 2021 and it is anticipated that the project will run until March 2022.
How you can participate?
Over the coming months we will be hearing from different stakeholders involved in the professional placement process, including students, graduates, placement coordinators, higher and further education staff and many more.
If you are interested in participating in the research please refer to one of the below:
Disabled Student or Graduate
If you are a disabled student or graduate, have completed or attempted to complete a professional placement whilst on a higher or further education course and are interested in sharing your experiences please complete our Registration Form by clicking here.
If you are eligible to participate you will be asked to take part in a focus group about your professional placement experiences. The focus group will last approximately 50-90 minutes. If you cannot participate in a focus group we can discuss other ways you can participate including interviews or a survey. If you require any reasonable accommodations to enable you to fully engage with the research please don’t hesitate to tell us about them. It is important to us that your voice is heard.
Any information or data you share during this research will be treated with full confidentiality and, if published, the data will not be identifiably linked to any individual. Your participation is entirely voluntary and even if you agree to participate now you may withdraw at any time during the study.
If you have any questions please Vivian by clicking here.
Higher & Further Education Staff
The consultation process to understand all of the issues and the perspectives of the relevant stakeholders informing the production of the guidelines will also involve:
HEI academic/departmental staff from relevant courses
Where possible, senior leaders in HEIs
If you are involved in supporting the professional placement process in your institution or maybe you would like to share some examples of good practice or recommend that we contact someone in your institution. Please don’t hesitate to email Vivian by clicking here.