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National Learning Network Student Support Services

Áine Nally

Áine Nally
087 406 7762

My name is Áine and I am the Student Support Officer (SSO) at Ballyfermot College of Further Education. If you are starting a course at BCFE and have a disability, specific learning difficulty or other support need, please contact me when you have been offered a place, or as soon as possible after starting your course.

Emma Casey

Emma Casey

087 163 4488

My name is Emma Casey, an Assistant Psychologist working with the National Learning Network. I work on Wednesdays and Fridays in Ballyfermot College of Further Education. I will work closely with the Student Support Officer (SSO) to provide students with social, organisation and well-being support. Where required I will assist with the academic support team within BCFE.

How can you contact us?

You can contact Áine by email:, or by mobile phone/text on 087 4067762.

You can also make an appointment to meet Áine in her Main Building office. Aine is in the college on Thursdays.

Referral to Emma Casey take place through the Student Support Officer (SSO) and Guidance Counsellors in BCFE.

Who does the Student Support Service (SSS) support?

A wide variety of students who live with a variety of disabilities are supported through our service every year at BCFE. Examples include:

  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder
  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing (HOH)
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder, Dyspraxia
  • Mental Health Difficulty
  • Ongoing Illness, health condition e.g., Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes
  • Physical Disability
  • Specific Learning Difficulty, Dyslexia
  • Speech and Language Difficulty
  • Visual Impairment

How do you register with the SSS?

Prior to registering for this service, you need to read the information in relation to the Student Support Service for clarity around what the service is and what supports are available. The two documents to read are:

You then need to complete the Needs Assessment Form which gives you an opportunity to provide information describing the impact of your disability in the learning environment. You can outline the supports you received at school, for example learning supports and exam accommodations. This Needs Assessment Form will also ask you to consider the supports that you will be required to complete your course in BCFE. When you have completed the from, please email it to me, with medial evidence confirming your disability/difficulty. Please note, a letter from your GP is not sufficient, Documentation is required from a specialist/consultant.

Needs Assessment Form

A Needs Assessment Form for students with additional needs to include documentary evidence verifying the student’s disability / specific learning difficulty must be provided with a completed Needs Assessment Form . Completed forms should be returned to the Disability Officer, Aine Nally (via email only) ( as early in the academic year as possible.

In summary there are three steps to apply for this additional funding and support:

  1. The student completes the Needs Assessment Form and returns it to the Disability Officer, Aine Nally at
  2. The student makes an appointment (via email or telephone at 087 406 7762) with the Disability Officer to discuss their completed assessment form and application.
  3. The Disability Officer will apply to the Fund for Students with Disabilities on the student’s behalf.

For more information about Categories covered by the Fund for Students with Disabilities, Evidence required as part of your application, Useful Contacts & Exam accommodations please view the Information for Students with Disabilities, Health Conditions and or Specific Learning Difficulties document.

What does the Disability Support Officer (DSO) do and supports can you get?

As DSO, I am a link and advocate for BCFE students with disabilities and additional support needs. I have a key understanding of disability challenges in Further Education, and I appreciate the individuality of students with disabilities and the diversity of needs which students may have in the learning environment. One of my key roles is to apply, on behalf of students, to the Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD). Within the limits of available resources, and subject to funding approval, the following are the types of supports available to students who fulfil criteria for FSD:

  • Irish Sign Language Interpreter
  • Notetaker
  • Personal Assistance, with academic support
  • Funding towards taxi costs
  • Assistive Technology and Software
  • Academic Support

Exam Accommodations

If you have been granted reasonable accommodations for your Junior/Leaving Cert, and you can provide me with documentary evidence of this, you can avail of the same accommodations for end of year exams at BCFE. Examples of reasonable accommodations include a reader, scribe, extra time, spelling and grammar waiver, rest breaks etc.


REMEMBER The DSO Service acknowledges that BCFE students are adults and encourages you to take charge of your learning and educational progression. We encourage you to access the supports you have requested and to inform us if your requirements change during the academic year.

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