What are Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA)?
Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) are grants that help to pay for extra equipment and support that you may need as a direct result of your disability, on-going health condition, sensory impairment, mental-health condition or specific learning difficulty.
Am I eligible for DSA?
If you have a Disability, on-going health condition, sensory impairment, mental-health condition or specific learning difficulty such as Dyslexia or Dyspraxia, you could be eligible for DSA support. You must also be a UK student on a higher education course, studying one of the following:
- a first degree, eg BA, BSc or BEd
- a Foundation Degree
- a Certificate of Higher Education
- a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
- a Higher National Certificate (HNC)
- a Higher National Diploma (HND)
- a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)
- a Postgraduate course
- Initial Teacher Training
Do I need medical evidence?
Yes, in order to apply for DSA support, you must be able to demonstrate how your Disability, on-going health condition, sensory impairment, mental-health condition or specific learning difficulty affects your ability to study
This can be in the form of a Doctors Note/Letter, or a Diagnostic Report.
With Specific Learning Difficulties such as Dyslexia, the Diagnostic Report must be in the form of a Post 16 Years Assessment from a Chartered Psychologist with a Health Professional Council (HPC) certificate, or a specialist dyslexia teacher with a practising certificate.
What does DSA support provide me with?
DSA support can provide:
- Specialist equipment such as a laptop
- Specialist software such as mind mapping or text to speech
- Non-Medical Help support such as Specialist Study Skills or Mentoring Support
- Training on your specialist software
- Support for travel due to your disability
- other disability related costs of studying
If you do not own a computer, or your current computer does not meet a certain specification, you will be asked to contribute £200 towards your equipment, which has been deemed as the minimum cost that any student is likely to incur when buying a computer.
When should I apply?
We recommend that you apply for DSA support as soon as possible, to ensure that your support is put into place as soon as possible. You are able to apply before you have received confirmation of a final place of study, and if your circumstances change after your needs assessment, we can ensure the relevant people are updated.
What do I need to do before my assessment?
Once you have booked your assessment, you will receive an email detailing the next steps to take. You will need to ensure that you have provided us with a copy of:
- Your Funding Body eligibility letter
- A copy of your medical evidence
- A completed Pre-Assessment form (available online)
- Details of your current computer specification if applicable
If we have not received a copy of this information prior to your assessment, we cannot guarantee that the assessment can be carried out, and it may have to be rescheduled.
Can I bring someone with me to my assessment?
Yes, if you would like to bring anyone with you to your Needs Assessment, you are more than welcome to. We recommend that you inform us prior to your Needs Assessment if you are bringing someone with you, just in case any special requirements need to be made.
Can I have a home assessment?
If you are unable to attend one of our DSA Needs Assessment Centres, we may be able to organise a home assessment for you – please note, this will be down to your funding body to approve and cannot be guaranteed. If you would like to discuss the option of a home assessment with us, please mention this when booking.
What happens during my assessment?
Whilst the word “assessment” is involved with DSA, please do not worry, it is not a test or assessment. The Needs Assessment is an opportunity to have an informal chat with a qualified Needs Assessor, discussing your course and any potential issues you may face because of your disability or learning difficulty, and then discussing potential support to help you with your studies. You will be shown a variety of equipment and software that you may be eligible for, along with discussing other strategies that can support you.
What happens if I need to cancel my assessment?
If you need to cancel or rearrange your appointment, please get in touch with the Access2Learn team as soon as possible. If you are cancelling an appointment within 24 hours of your appointment taking place, please note the assessment centre may charge a cancellation fee of £60 + VAT which is deducted from your general allowance amount.
How long does my assessment take?
We recommend that you allow between 1.5 to 2 hours for your DSA Needs Assessment
Who pays for my assessment?
As part of your DSA entitlement, you are allocated a “General Allowance”. An assessment centre will deduct their fee from this allowance. This is an “inclusive fee” and covers all work that may be required for the duration of your course. This includes any additional needs with which you may present with. The fee which Access2Learn charges is £600 + VAT.
What happens after my assessment?
After your Needs Assessment, your assessor will produce a report. Once this is Quality Assured a copy will be sent to you within 10 working days of your assessment date.
You can also see a draft copy of your report if you wish.
We will send a copy of your report to:
- Your funding body
- your disability advisor (if you gave consent)
I’ve received my report but have not heard anything else - what should I do?
If after 3 weeks of receiving your Needs Assessment Report you have not heard anything from your Funding Body, we would recommend you get in touch with them to find out the status of your application. It may be that the Funding Body has requested additional information from us in order to approve the recommendations that have been made.
How do I organise my Non Medical Support?
Page 3 of your confirmation letter will detail the Non-Medical support you are entitled to, along with the contact information for the relevant people. If you have any problems, we recommend you get in touch with your disability advisor at your University.
How do I organise my AT Training?
Page 3 of your confirmation letter will detail the AT Training you are entitled to, along with the contact information for the relevant people. If you have any problems, we recommend you get in touch with your disability advisor at your University.
What happens if my needs change throughout my course?
If during your study you require any additional support, please get in touch with us and we can look to make additional recommendations to your Funding Body. This may require you popping into an assessment centre for a review assessment, or alternatively this may be arranged over email or phone.
What happens to my DSA equipment once my course ends?
Once your course has ended, any DSA equipment that you have received is yours to keep (unless otherwise stated)
Why is there more than one supplier quote included in my report?
Funding bodies request that 3 supplier quotes are included in your Needs Assessment Report. Your entitlement letter will confirm which supplier equipment provider has been chosen.
Can I upgrade the equipment recommended in my report?
Yes, you can discuss with the chosen supplier the costs that may be involved in upgrading your equipment. Any additional charges that the supplier may impose will have to be funded by you, and not DSA.
Can I get a Macbook or iMac?
Previously, DSA would take into consideration course requirements when reviewing equipment recommendations, and if you were taught using a Mac at your University a Macbook or iMac could be recommended if applicable. However, recent changes mean that a Macbook or iMac can only be recommended where the need is solely due to your disability or learning difficulty. Please note, with all recommendations it is the Funding Body who has the final call in approving the support.
What does Access2Learn do with my personal data or information?
Access2Learn are committed to ensuring your personal data is kept private and secure. We are registered with the ICO (information Commissioner’s Office) and any personal data is securely stored on our online system. We will keep your information for a maximum of 5 years from the date of your last assessment, after which time it will be removed/deleted. We will never sell or transfer your data to any other parties, and will only liaise with parties involved in the DSA process. If you have any concerns about your personal data, please do not hesitate to get in touch!
Can I get an iPad or Android Tablet?
Devices such as iPads or Android Tablets may be recommended, if there is suitable disability related justification. Please note, with all recommendations it is the Funding Body who has the final call in approving the support.