The DSA Assessment Process

Once you have qualified for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA and have received your DSA1 letter from the Student Loans Company, the next step will be to have a needs assessment. Details on how to arrange your needs assessment will be set out in your DSA1 letter. For a refresher on DSA and the application process, check out our DSA guide homepage.

The needs assessment is there to help identify what support you may need whilst studying and will be carried out by a Needs Assessor. They will look at:

  • What methods you currently use to study.
  • What technology you use and how you use it.
  • What additional technology you may need.
  • What other support you may need to access your studies. This is known as Non-Medical Help (NMH).

Find out more about the role of a DSA needs assessor here.

Prior to your needs assessment, your supplier will ask you to share information about what support you may have received when at school or college. You could also include any reports from a Qualified Teacher of Children and Young People with Vision Impairment (QTVI) or other professionals.

This is also an opportunity for you to start to think about what support you might need at university. If you’re unsure then don’t worry, your needs assessor will help with this.

Where will the needs assessment take place?

Your needs assessment can take place online or in person – it is YOUR choice! You should have up to two hours to discuss your needs.

As we covered in the previous page of this guide, you will have been assigned either Capita or StudyTech as your supplier when your application for DSA was approved. These suppliers cover different regions of the UK. To find out who you are assigned to, you can enter your postcode into the SLC website.

The supplier you are assigned will be based on the contact address you provide to DSA when you make your application (usually your home address). However, if your eligibility for DSA is confirmed following the start of term, you will be assigned a supplier based on your university’s location.

This can be an important factor to consider if you would like to have a face-to-face/in person needs assessment rather than an online one.

Which one you choose will be dependent on what suits you best. For example, an online assessment can be conducted from your home and does not require travel. Alternatively, a face-to-face assessment may provide you with the opportunity to physically try out equipment to see if it is the right fit.

If you have any difficulties with being assigned a supplier due to the location they cover, and where you would like to have your face-to-face assessment, you can contact SLC directly to seek advice on this.

Getting the support in place

Once the Student Loans Company has looked at your report, they may get back in touch with the assessor to ask for more information, or they may approve the report.

When they have agreed on what support you should receive, they will send you another letter. This will set out what technology support, training and Non-Medical Help you should receive. Either Contact Associates or StudyTech will then be responsible for providing any equipment or training.

You will be told in the letter who to contact to set up any Non-Medical Help you are awarded.

Future changes to your DSA

If you are a full time undergraduate student, you do not need to apply for DSA each year. Your assessment should identify your needs for the entire duration of your course.

However, sometimes things change; you may experience a deterioration in sight or encounter a problematic module that requires additional or different support to access, or you may have to repeat a year or need to change courses.

If there are any changes in your circumstances you should discuss this with your disability advisor at university who will be able to advise on the next steps. For example, if it is a change in your eye condition you can go back to your DSA supplier, but if it is a change in your course you may need to reapply for DSA. It is always worth checking with your DSA supplier first.

Technology could play a vital role in supporting you with your studies. Check out the next page in this guide to find out more about tech and DSA!

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