Sunday, 20 August, 2017

What Next : Information for student with disabilities

General Information for students with disabilities


Can an adult learner with a disability qualify for exemptions when applying to third level through the CAO?

Through the CAO it is possible to gain entry via the Supplementary Admissions Route. However it is important to note that entry criteria can vary from one college to another. Some colleges accept learners with disabilities who have achieved 15% below the set points for the course the year an application is being made. While the others may have another system in place and may assess each application on an individual basis. Unless a learner has an approved language exemption learners must obtain the minimum core subject entry requirements for their chosen course.

What supports can a learner with a disability avail of once they have secured a place in third level?

Firstly it is important to note that many HEIs especially within the university sector now have designated Disability Officers in place who can provide information on a range of supports such as funding, accommodation, assistive technology and who generally implements the institutions disability policy. However in smaller institutions this work is often done by the Access Officers.

One of the most important things a learner with a disability can do in making their application is tick the box on the CAO form marked 'do you have a disability'. This information will be given to the institution and they will be aware that they will need support upon entry. However all information given to the institution will be treated as confidential. It is also important to make arrangements in terms of examination facilities, and seek assistance and the relevant supports from the Disability Office/ Access Office at the beginning of your academic year. It may also be useful to make yourself known to your lecturers as they too may need to be aware of your circumstances.

With regards to mental health USI have also launched an innovative mental health awareness pack which has been disseminated to all HEIs as part of their Mental Health Awareness Campaign. This pack provides information to learners through postcards, stickers and bookmarks. Learners can obtain a pack from their Access Office.

Higher Education Authority Initiative - DARE

In 2009, The Irish Universities Association, Dublin Institute of Technology and partners, on a national basis, launched an access route for students who wish to progress to higher education. The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is for students with a disability. Visit for more information.


The Students Union of Ireland (USI), Equality Officer has the responsibility of initiating campaigns for the defence and promotion of student's right in the areas of equality. The officer is responsible for running Equality Training Events and is the chairperson of Equality Working. Further information is available from the Equality Officer, USI

WAM (Willing Able Mentoring) Programme

The WAM (Willing Able Mentoring) Programme offers graduates with disabilities the chance to take up mentored work placements for up to six months in a variety of companies around Ireland. The placements offer graduates the chance to gain valuable experience and to pick up solid skills. All participants are paid the going rate for the work they do.

All WAM placements have a company mentor who helps graduates to settle into the workplace. This company mentor is the link between the WAM programme and the company. WAM is funded by the Department of Social Protection (2012/2013) and has placed over 150 graduates with disabilities within its network of employers since 2006.

For more information on the WAM Programme and current work placement opportunities please contact Linda Kelly, Telephone: 01 278 9325, E-mail:


Disability Activation Project (DACT) – Training Options

The Disability Activation Project (DACT) is a project run by The Irish Congress of Trade Unions that offers training and support to people with disabilities. It aims to increase the capacity and potential of people on disability/illness welfare payments to participate in the labour market.  There is a range of courses available including personal development, Information Technology and work related programmes.  

To be eligible for the (DACT) Training Options programme, participants/applicants must be in receipt of one of the following welfare payments:


1.            Disability Allowance

2.            Invalidity Pension

3.            Illness Benefit

4.            Blind Pension

5.            Disability Benefit

6.            Incapacity Supplement

7.            Injury Benefit


For further details, please contact the Irish Centre for Trade Unions to find a Congress Centre in your area. Phone: 01-8897704, email:    

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