Disability Access Route to Education
Disability access system provides lower entry requirements for eligible applicants.
If you’re looking to go to college, are under 23 years of age and have a disability or diagnosed learning difficulty, you should consider applying for the DARE (Disability Access Route to Education) entry scheme.
What is it?
Designed to compensate for difficulties posed by studying with a disability, DARE offers successful applicants the opportunity to avail of desired college or university courses that they may not have gotten the points for through the standard application process. For example, if you fall 10 or 15 points short of a 360 point course, you may still be eligible to claim a place on the course through the DARE system (so long as you’ve applied in time, but more on that later).
Who’s it for?
In order to be considered for DARE entry, you must have completed the Leaving Certificate, be aged under 23, and have a disability of some kind (physical or mental). Once your application has been sent in, the status of your disability is assessed using specific criteria outlined on the AccessCollege.ie website here.
How does it work?
It’s really quite a straightforward process. First off, make sure you’ve met the CAO application deadline. You must then disclose your disability/learning difficulty in your CAO application, and provide a completed copy of the Supplementary Information Form by a specified date.
There are three sections of the Supplementary Information Form that need to be filled out. These are:
- Section A. This is a personal statement on how you believe your disability/learning difficulty impacts on your education.
- Section B. This involves getting a Second Level Academic Reference completed by your school, which helps to give an educational background to your application from staff who you’ve been involved with in secondary school.
- Section C. The Evidence of Disability Form, which must be completed by a relevant and accepted medical consultant or specialist. This verifies the nature and extent of your disability, and provides an indication of what supports you may need in third level.
- If you’ve got a specified learning difficulty such as dyslexia, dyspraxia or dyscalculia, you’re required to provide a full psycho-educational assessment completed by an appropriately qualified psychologist instead of the Evidence of Disability Form. The assessment must have taken place within the last three years.
- If you have disgraphia, you must include BOTH a pyscho-educational assessment/existing up-to-date report and the Evidence of Disability Form in your application.
After that, just make sure to indicate that you want to be considered for DARE in question one, and you’re ready to go!
The DARE system is just one aspect of the supports available to people with disabilities/learning difficulties who wish to enter third level education. Even if you’re not eligible for DARE, there are still a host of options available which are designed to help with your studies, including:
- Orientation Programmes
- Learning Support
- Assistive Technology
- Library Support
- Exam Accommodations
- Educational Support Worker
- Academic Tuition
To make sure you get the most out of what’s available to you, be sure to contact the relevant college’s disability support officer who can inform you of your entitlements.