Who Can Apply For Disabled Student Allowance And What Does It Cover?

For students with specific learning or other disabilities the prospect of further studies can be a daunting prospect without some assistance in certain areas. Disabled student allowances are aimed at relieving some of the more restrictive obstacles faced by these students in respect of getting to classes and coping with the workload. Allowances are intended for students who ordinarily reside in the UK and are seeking higher education. Subject to certain specifications and dependent on a student's location, various agencies exist to which the disabled may apply. Information on these agencies is easily obtained from learning institutions.

Who Qualifies

Disabled student allowances apply to UK residents who are attending full-time or part time, publically funded, higher education courses in the UK. It applies to both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, although the amount paid to each student varies according to their individual needs. Each student must attend a needs assessment appointment at a, DSA QAG approved assessment centre. The actual monies awarded can be divided into four categories.

Specialist equipment

This includes a computer and any specialist software required to enable those with disabilities to participate fully in classes, as well as any training required for its use. Digital recorders and specialist furniture intended to lend support are also covered and becomes the property of the student.

Non-medical helpers

Students who require assistance with mobility, taking notes, or a sign language interpreter will receive an allowance covering such a helper's wages, but not their personal expenses.

Specialist tuition

Students who can prove a reliance on study support where disabilities such as dyslexia prevent effective learning may have these costs allowed.

Care for daily living

This allowance does not cover assistance that would be required even if the persons were not studying. It may cover items required in the place of residence that enable home study or research.
Disabled students may also be eligible for travel costs that are incurred as a result of the disability, but it will not cover normal travel costs faced by all students.

How to Apply

If an application to a higher learning institute specifies that a student has special needs, then that student will be issued with a DSA 1 application form. This form, together with evidence of the stated disability should then be submitted to the appropriate agency for consideration. Health related disabilities will need confirmation by a doctor. Specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia will require certification of an assessment that was done after the student's 16th birthday by a chartered psychologist or a specialist teacher in possession of an assessment practising certificate. If the application is approved, then a needs assessment will be carried out.
The needs assessment is purely to determine exactly what form of assistance is likely to be of most benefit to a disabled student. Assessment centres are widespread and should be easily accessible to students and an appointment must be made by the student at one such centre. Once these special needs have been established the assessment centre will notify the student and suggest an early meeting with a university's disability officer. Advice regarding the acquisition of necessary equipment or help will be provided by the disability officer.
Disabled student allowances are intended for costs that arise over and above assistance normally provided to special needs students by learning institutions. Disabled student allowances are also subject to terms and conditions specific to a UK location. These vary and it is for students to ascertain from an appropriate agency exactly what their entitlements are. Finally, it should be remembered that these agencies exist to assist and not to hinder disabled students in achieving their maximum potential.

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