AbilityNet’s experts deliver over 1,000 assessments for disabled students every year and by far the most frequent assessment is for a student with a specific learning difficultly such as dyslexia. . It is estimated that up to 1 in 10 people in the UK have some degree of dyslexia, but the good news is that there is a lot of help available to ensure that students can complete their studies successfully.
Am I eligible for DSAs?
Any UK student applying to or attending university with a disability or Specific Learning Difficulty such as Dyslexia, could be eligible for Disabled Students’ Allowances or DSAs Students with Dyslexia must have a post-16 formal dyslexia diagnostic assessment, overseen by a Dyslexia Specialist or Educational Psychologist.
The accompanying report, which is used as proof of dyslexia, is then sent off to a Funding Body with an application form. A Needs Assessment follows, where students can discuss their support with a trained Needs Assessor.
Students should apply for DSAs as soon as they can before their course starts. It takes, on average, just over 10 weeks from registering for DSAs to receiving support and they do not have to wait until their place has been confirmed.
How can DSAs help?
Students can receive equipment such as a laptop (subject to £200 contribution), dictaphone, printer and scanner. Assistive technology software and speech to text editors may be provided to facilitate essay writing. There is additional support available such as a study support tutor or non-medical helper, along with a general allowance for additional printing and photocopying needs. These, and many other support strategies are discussed during a Needs Assessment, to determine the most suitable and effective strategies for the student.
Reasonable adjustments may also be recommended such as:
- Extra time in examinations
- Departmental and subject specific support recommendations
- Extensions for course work
For Avril*, a BSc Adult Nursing student at UWE, the dyslexia-learning support she received transformed “the most daunting challenge” she had faced into “the greatest achievement” of her life.
“What is so great is that I can now work in real time. The software helps me to write reports and proof read my own work and I am now definitely reading more. I would say to anyone who is dyslexic and studying at university or studying for a degree with the OU – don’t waste the fantastic opportunity to claim DSA. I am so glad that I didn’t.”
* Names have been changed to protect confidentiality