University is a time of independence, new experiences, and new challenges. It’s exciting, but for some these new challenges may be on top of challenges faced every day, challenges that place additional burden that might affect your ability to study.
If you have a disability that affects your ability to study, such as a learning difference like dyslexia or ADHD, you may be eligible for additional support with your studies. This support might be equipment, human support or may be financial help with the additional costs associated with your disability.
This blog will help you understand some of the support options available to you.
Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is a UK Government grant which provides personalised support to disabled students in Higher Education. This is funding you don’t have to pay back and can include specialised hardware or software, or support from specialist staff, to make your learning activities as accessible as possible.
In January 2019 the Department of Education found that 40% of the disabled students surveyed are missing out on the crucial support that Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) provides because they do not think of themselves as disabled and they did not know how to apply.
Any UK student applying to university with a disability, condition, or impairment could be eligible for Disabled Students’ Allowance.
Who is eligible for Disabled Students’ Allowance?
The Government’s Disabled Students’ Allowances offer a grant for UK students experiencing a wide range of conditions and impairments, including (but not limited to):
- chronic fatigue
- Crohn's disease
- eating disorders
- hearing impairment
- multiple sclerosis
- spina bifida
- Specific Learning Difference (SpLD)
- visual impairment
Alison, a student at Birmingham City University, shared her experience with DSA.
As an autistic/other woman, the support has been crucial to my success on the course. I got my first distinction ever last term! My learning mentor was so supportive and practical, keeping me on target. The equipment provided meant I could work anywhere and recall important information. Because I didn’t know about DSA until the end of my first term, I nearly left the course. But a Birmingham City University (BCU) adviser told me about it and helped me apply. It has still been challenging, but with DSA support/equipment I am nearly there. Thank you!
– Alison, Birmingham City University
Use AbilityNet’s free Higher Education Support Checker to find out if you could be eligible for Disabled Students’ Allowance. This is entirely anonymous, and you do not have to supply any personal information.
Support teams and advisers
Even if you are not eligible for DSA, you can check with your university to find out what support they offer. To help you reach your full potential, most universities have disability support teams and mental health and wellbeing advisers.
You can find out whether this support is available by visiting your university website or contacting its student support services.
Technology support at university
Technology can be harnessed to support you throughout your university journey – from learning to exams.
DSAs can fund specialist assistive technologies, but there are many inbuilt features and free technology available to everyone that can help with reading, writing, focus and much more.
How AbilityNet can help
AbilityNet can also help you throughout your university journey. AbilityNet is a UK charity that helps people of any age and ability to use technology to achieve their goals at home, at work, and in education. We do this by providing specialist advice services, free information resources, and by helping to build a more accessible digital world. Here are just some of the ways we can help you with your tech throughout university:
- You can download our free expert factsheets, covering a range of disabilities and technologies.
- Check out our free webinars, blogs, and podcast – many of which are relevant to education settings and are valuable to students, advisers, and others.
- Access My Computer My Way, our free tool full of guides that offer step-by-step instructions on how to adapt your phone, laptop, or tablet to meet your needs. You can search for a specific need (e.g. making text larger) or filter the guides based on your symptoms (e.g. hand tremor) or condition (e.g. dyslexia).
You can find out more online at www.abilitynet.org.uk, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call our free helpline on 0800 048 7642.