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Are you off to University or Higher Education?

Diana Perry, CEO of the ED Society

a student in a wheelchair being supported at a desk with books by two teachers

When Joe was going off to University, we were thinking of all the cooling equipment we were going to have to buy for him, an air conditioning unit, humidifier…… as his room in the Halls of Residence would be very small and very hot.

We also had to liaise with the University Residence Department to ensure he was not going to be on the ground floor, as this would not be safe and secure if he had his window open for the air-con unit.

We were advised about Disability Student Allowances (DSAs), and we decided to apply for a grant to pay for this equipment. Joe and I then had to go to a local Assessment Centre for them to interview him, to determine his needs. The Interviewer took a complete history of how Ectodermal Dysplasia affects Joe,
and what affect it will have on his academic life. From this, she agreed that overheating would cause lack of concentration and suggested Joe would need a digital voice recorder, to record lectures and playback later in case his concentration waned during lectures. He would also need his own laptop with assisted software programs. This would allow flexibility to move around environments that would be most suitable for him and allow him to continue working efficiently, together with a printer to photocopy from University library books, as he may not be able to tolerate the temperatures in a library. Plus, an air-con unit for his room and a humidifier.

The interview took a long time, nearly two hours, but it was well worth it as he was granted the cost of all the equipment, together with a general allowance per annum, for paper, printer ink, non-core
books, and so on.”

“DSAs are grants to help meet the extra course costs students can face as a direct result of a disability, ongoing health condition, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty. They help disabled people to study in higher education on an equal basis with other students. They are paid on top of the standard student finance package and don’t have to be paid back. The amount you get depends on the type of extra help you need – not on your household income.”

What DSA can pay for:

You can get help with the costs of:

  • specialist equipment, for example a computer if you need one because of your disability
  • non-medical helpers, for example a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter or specialist note taker
  • extra travel to attend your course or placement because of your disability
  • other disability-related study support, for example having to print additional copies of documents for proof-reading

Buying a new computer

You may get a new computer if you’re assessed as needing one because:

  • you do not already have one
  • your current one does not meet your study needs

When buying a new computer, you’ll need to pay the first £200.

Whichever route applies to you, apply as early as possible. Don’t wait until you’ve been offered a place at university. Make sure you send the forms to the right address. Depending on your circumstances, this could be to Student Finance England,
your local authority or the Open University (OU)

If you would like to talk more about this, please get in touch with Diana – diana@edsociety.co.uk

For more information about DSA’s and how to apply, please visit the Gov.uk website here