LexAble supplies its assistive software to thousands of students in the UK through the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) scheme. Its purpose is to provide disabled students in higher education with funding and support to cover their needs whilst at university. This ranges from photocopying and taxi fares through to specialist computer equipment or note-taking support in lectures. At first, the DSA process can appear quite daunting, but there is plenty of help and advice available to help students to get the support they need. With that in mind, here’s our quick guide to the DSA:
Who is the DSA for?
If you have a disability that impacts on your education then it’s likely you will be able to get at least some support. The DSA covers a broad range of disabilities, including:
- Learning difficulties such as dyslexia
- Physical disabilities
- Mental health conditions
- Long-term illness
What can you get?
This will vary based on your needs, but here are some of the most common things that are funded through the DSA:
- IT hardware, including a laptop or desktop PC.
- Assistive technology.
- Transport to and from lectures.
- Printing and photocopying.
- Non-medical helpers such as note-takers.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the DSA won’t cover any medical costs associated with your disability or any resources that are required by all students.
The DSA Process
To apply for support, you should send an application form to your funding body, such as Student Finance England or the NHS. Most universities will have a student support centre who can help you to fill in the form. For an application to be successful, evidence of disability will be required from a doctor, psychologist or specialist teacher.
Following a successful application, you will need to find your nearest assessment centre and make an appointment. During the meeting the assessor will recommend strategies, software and equipment to suit your individual needs. After the assessment you will receive a report of what has been recommended, and this report will be passed to your funding body for their consideration.
After receiving the assessment centre’s report, the funding body will send a letter notifying you of their decision and whether you will receive a partial or full award. They will also name a supplier to order from. It is through these suppliers that equipment, software and training are distributed.
Finally, you can contact the approved DSA supplier to arrange for your new equipment to be delivered. There will be no cost to you, as payment will have already been arranged between the supplier and the funding body.
If you’re a student, or know one that wants help but is unsure of how to proceed, the good news is that there are plenty of resources out there providing all the information you need to make the right decisions:
- The Student Room have a comprehensive DSA guide on their wiki, plus a general FAQ for disabled students.
- Microlink (a DSA supplier) and Student Finance England have created Discover DSA, a series of videos about the DSA process.
- Finally, for a brief overview and to find out where to start, take a look at the GOV.UK DSA Guide and DSA QAG, the official website for DSA applicants.