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About the Assessment

The purpose of a Disabled Students Allowances (DSA) Needs assessment is to identify strategies that an individual can use to enable progression in all aspects of a higher education course.

The session takes the form of an informal structured interview which is typically conducted on a one-to-one basis [1] between you and the assessor - a person qualified by their experience & knowledge of the equipment and support that students with disabilities or a SpLD need to study successfully at university. The meeting takes place in an assessment room equipped with ergonomic aids and up to date software/technology and will usually last approximately 1.5 - 2.5 hours.

You will have the opportunity to discuss:

  • Course demands - for example, note-taking, research, producing written work, using computer and accessing practical activities;
  • Prior experience - for example, difficulties you may have encountered with study and strategies you have employed;
  • The impact of the condition(s) [2] you are being assessed for on your course.

Where relevant equipment and strategies will also be demonstrated and where appropriate you will have the opportunity to trial and evaluate computer software and assistive aids.

The aim of the meeting is for you and the assessor to discuss and agree on a package of equipment, strategies and support that you need for your course so that you can study as independently as possible. You won't be expected to prove your disability in the session. The intent is to ascertain what aids and strategies you need. No testing is involved.

After the assessment the assessor will produce a written report. You have the opportunity to receive and agree a draft of this, before a final copy is sent to your funding body for their agreement. The assessment report is confidential and is used by the relevant funding body to work out the support they are willing to pay for from the DSA.

DSA recommendations usually include some or all of the following:

  • Information for you about what is being recommended and how to apply the various strategies and equipment discussed;
  • Details of costs and DSA-QAG approved suppliers of specialist equipment;
  • Recommended weekly hours, suggested rates of pay, as well as providers of any non-medical help you may require (human support);
  • Details of any reasonable claims for additional miscellaneous or travel costs you might incur whilst studying as a result of your condition;
  • The assessment report will also contain advice and guidance to help you and your institution agree reasonable accommodations they can make to help you get the most out of your course.

Various pieces of equipment and software programmes that may assist you with your studies may be evaluated during the assessment:

Various equipment and software programmes Various equipment and software programmes


[1] See: FAQ: Can I bring a companion? [Back to text]

[2] The assessor's remit is to conduct an interview regarding the SpLD/medical condition you have been referred with. In the event that you have other conditions that you feel affect study, and you wish for these to be taken into account in the recommendations made, you should inform the assessment centre of this before your appointment and evidence for these conditions must be submitted to your sponsor. [Back to text]