College Choice: Students with disabilities should avail of support services

Many colleges will have orientation days which are well worth attending


For students in transition to a new school or college, the noveltywill quickly fade as new friends are made and the routine of day-to-day life within our education institutions becomes familiar.

But for one particular group of students, participating fully in our schools and colleges presents additional challenges.

There are almost 10,000 students with disabilities in further and higher education, many of whom enter college through the Disability Access Support Scheme (Dare) which provides a wide range of structured supports to meet their needs. Others may arrive without the college being aware of their disability, and need to immediately contact the disability support services.

These services can provide you with a range of disability-related supports which will help you keep on track. It’s a discreet service dedicated to ensuring that your disability doesn’t put you at an academic disadvantage.

They will customise supports to your needs, such as study, assistive technology, note-taking services, learning supports and funding for transport. If you’re attending an education training board (ETB) college, you will need to contact the designated disability support person or principal.

Many colleges have orientation days for students with disabilities prior to the beginning of term time. Attend such events as you will be told what resources are available to you and you can ask all the questions you need answers to.

Academic demands

If you have accepted your CAO or PLC place in the past few days, now is the time to put everything in place to make your college life a successful and enjoyable one. Familiarise yourself with registration dates and get any paperwork you need in order.

If you are in receipt of a social welfare payment, you must inform the Department of Social Protection of your plans to start college.

You might also need to consider how you are going to get to college. Can you avail of public transport or will you need to organise an alternative? These services are in huge demand, so you need to contact them well in advance of the start of term.

If your college is located some distance from home and daily travel is prohibitive, then you will need to organise accommodation immediately. Larger campuses with on-site accommodation usually have a number of accessible rooms specifically for students with mobility issues. But once college starts, accommodation in or near campuses is extremely difficult to secure.

Freshers’ week

Note: This is the last in the current College Choice series. Acceptance of the current round of CAO offers closes next Monday at 5.15pm.

The final round of published offers, which will allocate about 2,000 further places, will be made on Thursday, September 1st and The Irish Times will have a special supplement that day.

All “Available Places” will continue to be published daily on the CAO website,, and allocated weekly until filled.