Featured in Spokeout Autumn 2011
Written by Joanna Marsden
Thu, 23 Aug 2012
Better Options

Better Options

The Better Options College Fair, run by AHEAD each autumn, is an unmissable event for students with disabilities who want to explore their higher and further education options.

Making decisions about the future, and exploring educational opportunities, can be a stressful process. The Better Options College Fair, a one-day information event for students with disabilities which takes place in the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) on 30th November, aims to provide students with disabilities with everything they need to know about higher and further education options. “Whether you are seeking general information, guidance, or specific details of supports available at various institutions, the Better Options event is an ideal starting point,” says Mary Quirke, Assistant Director of AHEAD (The Association for Higher Education Access and Disability), which organises the event. “Gathered under one roof, students will find information stands from the major universities and Institutes of Technology, as well as a programme of inspirational speakers, including Dragon’s Den entrepreneur and presidential candidate Sean Gallagher.”

Visitors to the event will have an opportunity to find out about college life from other students and graduates with disabilities, and can learn more about the ‘Disability Access Route to Education (DARE)’ programme, including how to complete the CAO Supplementary Forms as part of the DARE process.

According to Mary Quirke, “Students with disabilities, like their peers, can be overwhelmed by the pressure to make decisions about their future, and not know where to begin. The objective of the event is to help people through this process and hopefully also open their eyes to opportunities they may not have considered before. We want people to leave thinking ‘Maybe I could consider doing that.’”

For further information, contact Lorraine Gallagher at AHEAD. Tel: 01 716 4396 Email: lorraine.gallagher@ahead.ie The Better Options venue is fully wheelchair accessible and can be reached by bus, or a short taxi ride from Huston Station or Dublin City Centre.


What visitors said about last year's better options college fair


I found the Better Options event to be very informative and the presentations were excellent. As the Student Support Worker in St Joseph’s Centre for the Visually Impaired it was particularly relevant.
Claire Skerritt, Student Support Worker


All of my students with a disability have now ticked the DARE box. One of those students had previously been adamant that they did not want to disclose, did not want any support and did not want to be treated any differently than anyone else. They may even accept examination support for the Leaving Cert now which they had previously declined. I think students are starting to realise that there are a lot more students with disabilities among them than they thought, and they are starting to look at their supports as a right and a legitimate entitlement and not as ‘special treatment’. They used to fear that colleges would think less of their ability and potential because of them disclosing their disability. Hearing the college and student speakers at Better Options helped to allay those fears, so thank you!
Elaine O’Leary, Career Guidance Counsellor (Longford)


The AHEAD Better Options fair is a great opportunity to gain a greater understanding of what third level education can offer you. You have the chance to meet other students who have been through the process, and this really helped to put me at ease. It’s also a great opportunity for you to meet the support staff in your prospective college. This event is something that I’d recommend every student attends before filling out their CAO form.
Ger Gallagher, Student