As a student with a disability, the needs assessment interview is a process designed specifically to identify the assistive technologies that can help you make the most out of your education. The system has been set up by the UK government to help students who have any disability, long-term health condition, mental health condition or a particular learning difficulty.
Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) are not solely a means to provide financial assistance for students with disabilities. They are also a way to get specialized care and facilities which can really make a difference for your quality of education.
Preparing for the Interview
A lot of students go into their DSA interview with some trepidation, but there is no reason to worry. The informal interview is simply a way for the assessor to really connect with and understand your particular situation so they can give you the most effective help.
Therefore, expect to have a pleasant chat and relax while you are preparing for the interview.
What Can You Be Eligible For?
The assessor will determine what kind of financial compensation you are eligible for based on your needs. Disabled Students’ Allowances are based on whatever your individual needs are. The assessment does not depend on your level of household income. Specialist equipment, non-medical helpers and a general allowance are all considered when evaluating your case.
If you are a postgraduate student then you may also be eligible for a single allowance.
Non-Financial Benefits of the DSA
As a candidate, the assessor will also suggest specific solutions that can help you make the most out of being a student. You will be eligible for a range of specialised equipment such as computer software, which can make learning and studying much easier for you. You may also be eligible for assistance with acquiring a non-medical helper to assist you with taking notes or reading. There are many skilled community workers and highly experienced professionals willing to work with you to realise your education goals despite your disability.
You will need some paperwork with your needs assessment as well. Ideally, you would need to have some official documentation about your disability, medical condition, mental-health condition or learning difficulty. Please see your GP or medical specialist to request this documentation.
Additionally, your course must also take place in the UK and generally be a recognised degree on the list acceptable on the DSA website. (https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas/eligibility)
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This article was written by Nick Davison, of Access 1st Disabled Student Allowance Assessment Centre.