It's no secret that the Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) grant is in flux - and because AbilityNet has centres around the country, we are gaining increasing knowledge of how government cuts are taking shape on the ground.
Things are changing fast, and as we start to hear back from the first batch of requests for accessible equipment and human helpers, we'll begin to see how the changes will affect students, universities and colleges.
Disabled Student Allowance changes
If you're unsure how the future looks for DSA, and are keen to keep supporting disabled students to have access to supportive tech and helpers, join us at our Practitioner Days in June and July. We will also be looking at the latest tech in this space.
Photo: University of Warwick. Credit: Coventry City Council (Flickr)
As a charity, our Practitioner Days offer us and you, a great way to connect with people in FE and HE who are working with disabled students. The sessions are free and take place in London, Birmingham, Brighton and Bristol. See full information on the DSA Practitioner Days here.
Debra Jackson, a DSA adviser at Coventry University attended a recent Practitioner Day and says she found it helpful. “The most useful thing was the opportunity to look at some assistive software. As a disability adviser everyone expects us to be up-to-date with the latest features and versions. It was good to hear about free stuff too,” she says.
Meanwhile, here is an update on the DSA position. Hopefully we’ll see you at our Practitioner Days to discuss the changes from your perspective too.
Will students still get targeted assistance?
Even though there might be smaller provision from government, we are keen to ensure students still get targeted assistance in terms of technology and 'non medical helpers' (NMH), which includes support assistants, note takers and mentors.
We know students with a physical disability or, for example autistic students, may need lots of support to move around the campus or take notes during lectures and would really struggle without this NMH provision. The good news is that we’re seeing some flexibility around this from DSA government officials.
For example, where guidelines initially stated that note takers would need to be provided by the university, they have been revised (at the beginning of April) to state that note takers will now be approved for students with sensory impairments, i.e. hearing/vision. We will keep putting pressure in this area, where needed, to support students.
Share and support
Changes and revisions are happening quickly. We hope to see you at the Practitioner Days where we can share our respective knowledge.
Boyzone's Shane Lynch supports our DSA Claim It! campaign. See more here.