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Dyslexia Assessments

Improved Learning with a Disabled Students’ Allowance

Many people are unaware that dyslexic learners are eligible for the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA).

If you or your child is thinking of going to University, applying for a Disabled Students’ Allowance, or DSA, could mean that you’re entitled to new equipment and technology that will help you reach your full potential as an undergraduate or postgraduate student.

The definition of ‘disability’

Under the Equality Act 2010 a person is considered disabled if they ‘have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial or long-term negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities.’

This definition includes individuals who have dyslexia and other learning difficulties such as ADHD, ASD, DCD, dysgraphia and dyscalculia.

At Dyslexia First, we understand that a dyslexia diagnosis is no reason for an individual not to reach their full learning potential and accessing additional support through a DSA can really help. In this blog, we discuss how having a DSA can help to make a difference in your learning, and how to apply. 

What is the Disabled Students’ Allowance?

The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a government fund that provides support for UK students with a disability. This includes assistance with the cost of specialist equipment, one to one support and Access Arrangements.

This can be applied for on its own, or in addition to student funding. It is funding that doesn’t need to be paid back unless the course isn’t completed.

The type and extent of support is based on individual needs. For example, the DSA can cover costs for specialist computer equipment.

How can a DSA help a dyslexic student?

Students can receive equipment such as a laptop, a dictaphone for recording lectures and a printer/scanner if they prefer working from paper.

Specialist software can also help to break down barriers, for example, dictation software for writing essays, text-to-speech software for having dense text read aloud and mind-mapping software for planning and organisation.

In a 2019 DfE survey, one student interviewed stated that between their 1st and 2nd term they saw a large improvement in their grades, quoting, “If I didn’t have the specialist software, I probably wouldn’t have completed the course”.1

One-to-one study support, adjustments to exam conditions and deadline extensions can also be supported by a DSA.

Under the Equality Act 2010 a person is considered disabled if they 'have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial or long-term negative effect on their ability to do normal daily activities.

Who is eligible for the Disabled Students’ Allowance?

The DSA is aimed at undergraduate and postgraduate students with a ‘disability’ that affects their ability to study.

They must also be
• A UK resident
• On a course that lasts at least a year (including part-time, Open University and distance learning courses)
• Qualify for student finance from Student Finance England

exam tips for dyslexic students

How to apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance 

1. Proof of eligibility

First on the to-do list is to prove your eligibility for DSA.

To qualify using dyslexia for DSA funding, you must have a diagnostic dyslexia assessment before applying for the DSA. This will act as evidence of your needs. 

Always check an assessor’s qualifications at the SpLD Assessment Standards Committee website.

For other conditions, see the proof below:

Condition

Proof

Disabilities or long-term health condition

A copy of a report or letter from your doctor or consultant – or you can fill in the disability evidence form

Mental health condition

A copy of a report or letter from your doctor or consultant – or you can fill in the disability evidence form

Specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia

A copy of a ‘diagnostic assessment’ from a practitioner psychologist or suitably qualified specialist teacher

The DSA application process can take up to 3 months

2. Give time for the DSA process

We recommend getting the application process started as early as you can, as it can take up to 3 months.
Don’t worry if the University place hasn’t been confirmed yet, applying for the DSA can be done beforehand – when you apply for student finance online. 

You can also apply for DSA if you don’t need student finance. Complete student finance form (DSA1 form) to apply just for DSA on its own.

3. Book your study needs assessment (if required)

You may be asked to book a study needs assessment by the Student Finance organisation. This is an informal meeting to work out what support you will require based on your individual needs. 

 

4. The application is reviewed

Confirmation on whether the application is successful will be received within 6 weeks, however, it’s worth bearing in mind that the application process varies and could take up to 14 weeks for the DSA support to be put in place.

 

5. Order your equipment or support

Once funding has been approved, order your DSA equipment or support. 

The amount of funding will vary and is based on your needs, for the Academic Year 2024-25 the allowance is up to £26,948 per year in England.

6. Receiving DSA fund money

Your DSA will be paid as agreed, either as reimbursement or directly to the supplier. 

The Disabled Students’ Allowance can help to make learning more manageable and is funding available to support you. If you’d like additional information, please see our website which holds two essential videos that talk through the application process in detail.

www.dyslexia-first.co.uk/university

At Dyslexia First we want to help those who are living with dyslexia to enjoy life and the opportunities it brings. We are relentlessly positive about dyslexia.

If you want to talk more about dyslexia and discuss assessment for children or adults, please contact us.

Getting assessed by a qualified practitioner is crucial to getting the correct diagnosis and accessing the help and support you need for your child. Always check an assessor’s qualifications at: SpLD Assessment Standards Committee website.

About Dyslexia First

Dyslexia Assessments

Dyslexia First provides first-class dyslexia assessments for children and adults across the North West.

Owner Michala Morton has worked in the field of Special Needs for over 20 years, across a wide range of educational settings, and works closely with The British Dyslexia Association and The Dyslexia Association assessing children and adults.

Based in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, Dyslexia First is conveniently accessible by train, linking to Central Liverpool, Manchester and cities within an hour’s commute.

Useful sources:

Help if you’re a student with a learning difficulty, health problem or disability: Disabled Students’ Allowance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) guide 2024 – Save the Student

1How can DSA help students with dyslexia? | AbilityNet