Friday 30 September 2016

Assisting all students with disabilities

Aoife Walsh

Published 22/08/2016 | 06:00

If an applicant has not indicated their disability on the CAO form, they can still access such support by making contact with the disability office at their college as soon as possible. Stock photo: Depositphotos
If an applicant has not indicated their disability on the CAO form, they can still access such support by making contact with the disability office at their college as soon as possible. Stock photo: Depositphotos

Dare stands for the Disability Access Route to Education. This scheme offers students with disabilities that may have prevented them from achieving their potential the opportunity to enter third level on slightly reduced points.

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The DARE scheme refers only to reduced points entry and is in no way related to the support for students with a disability that colleges provide.

Not every student who has a disability that may require support at third level will qualify for DARE. This is not to say that these students are not entitled to support throughout their studies.

Many students may feel uncomfortable about discussing their disability with college authorities, perhaps because they don't want to appear different from their peers or they may be concerned the college may not 'want' them if they disclose their disability.

Sometimes, it is a case of simply not understanding the type of practical supports the college can provide.

For example, some students with dyslexia do not qualify for the DARE, but colleges can offer them support, and students may find that it is much easier to access this at third level than in second level.

Practical assistance can include a longer borrowing time on library books, or access to audio versions.

Hopefully, any CAO applicant with a learning difficulty, disability or ongoing illness will have ticked the relevant box on their CAO form.

If so, their college will contact them to seek more information on the type of supports they may require, such as transport, personal assistant and dyslexia support.

If an applicant has not indicated their disability on the CAO form, they can still access such support by making contact with the disability office at their college as soon as possible.

Students are under no obligation to take up any support on offer from the college, but they should ensure that they are aware of the supports available to them.

The level of difficulty that can be involved in the transition to third level is underestimated by all students who expect that they have already overcome the most difficult part by gaining entry.

Understanding what supports are available whether disability-related or otherwise increases the likelihood of students remaining in third level if and when they begin to struggle with this new environment.

Irish Independent

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