Education and career aspirations

During transition, you may also be finishing school and thinking about what’s next. Your school, career guidance counsellor or health professionals can be a great source of support. They can help you to access accommodations for exams, navigate different entry routes to college and assist with career planning and other workplace supports. You may want to continue with education after you leave school or you may want to get a job or do volunteer work. You have many options so it is a good idea to start planning and preparing for this transition early.

Planning your next steps

Thinking about your next steps can feel overwhelming with so many options available. Many young people worry that their disability might impact their choices. However, with good management of your health, many careers are still possible. It’s important to think about what matches your interests, skills and what you feel confident doing.

Once you have some thoughts about what you would like to do, talk to your doctor or health professional about your preferred courses or career options so that they can guide you through any potential challenges associated with your disability. It’s all about finding the right fit where you can pursue the career you want while your needs are accommodated.

It’s helpful to plan ahead and know your strengths. To get started, try asking yourself:

  • What am I good at?
  • What am I passionate about?
  • What are my skills and talents?
  • Do I want to work with other people?
  • Do I want to work in an active job?

You might find completing this checklist with your parents helpful.

You can also explore your options by:

  • Trying out different jobs through work experience to see if you like the work, gain practical skills, and boost your CV.
  • Talking with family and friends about possibilities.
  • Talking with other people to find out what they have tried.
  • Meeting with your school’s career guidance counsellor for expert advice on professions and to discover your strengths for choosing the right career.

Further Education

Continuing education is a really exciting time in anyone’s life. If you have a disability, balancing education with other aspects of life may take a little more work. Prioritising your health might become tricky especially when demands at college increase. However, looking after yourself and knowing where you can access supports will help you to achieve your educational goals.

There are a number of programmes and supports in place to help you with your learning and well-being. This includes helping students with disabilities to get into college, providing disability and access officers, and finding ways to make college life easier for those who need the extra support.

Support when applying to colleges

If you have a disability, are under 23 and are looking to go to college, you should consider applying for the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) entry scheme. It’s designed to support students with disabilities to access higher education, ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. For more details on eligibility, participating colleges, and application deadlines, visit the DARE website or contact your school’s guidance counsellor. You can also find helpful information on the DARE scheme on the AHEAD website.

Supports during your studies

If you are managing a disability in college, there are many resources and people to support you with the transition to college life and as you work your way through your course.

While at school you may have had some support to help you learn and complete exams or assignments, or been provided with physical help or equipment. Some of this support may also be offered through the college you wish to attend.

All colleges have someone who is responsible for supporting students with disabilities. They are usually called a disability or access officer. The disability or access officer will be your go-to person within the college for information, assistance and discussing any concerns you have regarding your disability and education. Since each college is different, it’s a good idea to check their website and talk to them directly to find out exactly what supports are available so that you can make the most of your time there. You could make an appointment with the disability or access officers prior to commencing your course to discuss your options. You could also ask the Students’ Union if there are any clubs or societies for students with disabilities.

You can visit the disability or access officer in your college to talk about what support you might need and how they can help you. They might not know about your experiences in school, so explaining your disability can help them understand the challenges you faced and how it might affect your education. Being honest about what has helped you in the past and any difficulties you’ve faced is important. You can use medical reports from your health professional to help explain your needs. Consider preparing a brief script or information pack to guide your conversation with support from your health professionals if needed. It’s a good idea to seek support early. You can always decrease the amount of support you get later if you want.

The type of support available will depend on your college and your specific needs. Some examples of supports that might be useful include:

  • Permission to record lectures or receive printed notes
  • Assistants who can attend lectures with you and take notes if you need help
  • Exam accommodations like extra time, having questions read aloud, or taking exams in a private room with a scribe
  • Access to technology that supports your studies
  • Accessible classrooms or lecture halls if you use a wheelchair or have mobility issues

Finding a job

Getting your first job and earning your own money is exciting, and one of many steps towards becoming independent. Finding a job can be tricky, especially if it’s your first job. If you have a disability, finding a job that is right for you can be a challenge. However, there are programs and resources to help make your job search easier.

The links below include information about services and supports available to young people with disabilities who are looking for employment.

The EmployAbility Service is an employment and recruitment service that helps people with disabilities find and keep jobs. They provide support before and after you get a job, including a job coach, help with job searches, applications, and settling into the workplace.

Willing Able Mentoring (WAM) is a work placement programme for graduates with disabilities set up by the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD). It aims to connect graduates with disabilities with the labour market and help employers to improve their ability to integrate people with disabilities into the workplace.

The Get AHEAD programme aims to upskill graduates with disabilities by providing training and information on things such as interview preparation, writing a CV, volunteering and work experience, what supports they’re entitled to expect in the workplace and more.

The National Learning Network (NLN) providers free and flexible training courses and specialist support to those who may find it difficult to secure employment. NLN offers a wide selection of courses on a variety of topics like catering, tourism and computer and IT all around the country.

Intreo is the name of the Public Employment Service in Ireland. It is responsible for managing a range of resources around employment and income support. Your local Intreo Centre can provide you with support and advice on job-seeking services and skills, relevant job vacancies, training opportunities, disability supports and grants and more.

The Community Employment Scheme helps people who are long-term unemployed or otherwise disadvantaged to get back to work. It does this by offering part-time and temporary work placements in local communities. By taking part in a CE scheme, you can gain new skills and experiences that may help you to find a job later on.

Here are some important things to think about before leaving children’s services:

  • Have you talked to your teacher or health professionals about your health condition or disability and discussed the supports you may need in further education?
  • Do you know about different entry routes into college?
  • Do you know where and how to find extra information about educational and vocational support options?
  • Are you aware of when your applications are due?
  • Have you considered how your health condition or disability might affect your participation in further study or work?
  • Do you know what study or work options are available to you and where to find support for them?

Thinking through these points can help you prepare effectively for the transition from children’s services to college or work.


>> Go to next page: Self-advocacy