Attached to the email will be your DSA1 confirmation letter. It’s important to keep hold of this letter because it proves you're eligible and provides instructions on arranging your needs assessment.
Remember: Your needs assessment is not a test, but an opportunity to openly discuss your needs and the barriers you face in accessing your university life.
Arranging your needs assessment is straightforward:
- Find an assessment centre. You can choose where to attend your needs assessment – it might be online, over the phone, near your home, or near your university.
- Choose where you would like to be assessed. The centre you choose is entirely up to you and don’t worry about the price; your assessment is completely free, paid for as part of your DSA.
- There will be a section on most assessment centre websites where you can ‘book an assessment’. You can always email or phone them directly if you want to know more about how they will run your assessment.
Your assessment is confidential and conducted in a relaxed, informal, and supportive environment. Needs assessors have specialist experience in working with higher education students and discussing recommendations.
You'll have the opportunity to talk about past experiences and any strategies you've developed to address challenges. Once your learning needs have been discussed and the barriers identified, the assessor will propose support that could benefit you.
Your needs assessment will usually include a discussion of the following areas of university life:
- research and reading
- writing and reviewing academic work
- note-taking in lectures and seminars
- managing time and organising work
- access to, and use of, technology
- practical sessions, placements, field trips, and additional course activities
- examinations and timed assessments
- social interaction and communication
- travel and access to your higher education environment
- additional information
Your assessor might ask you to bring some information with you, or email it to them in advance. This helps to ensure they have all the specific information they need to best understand you and your support needs.
They might ask for:
- your DSA1 confirmation letter
- your medical evidence
- information about your computer or laptop, if you have one
The assessment is your opportunity to discuss any challenges you face in education. It’s steered by the amount of information you share. You might consider making a short list of things you find challenging so you remember to discuss them all.
Don’t worry if you don’t know the answers to these questions. Remember that your needs assessor is there to guide you to think about particular challenges you might face and work with you to come up with solutions.
Examples of your work are often helpful – lecture notes, assignments, a course outline and/or a copy of your most recent timetable.
DSA is specifically designed to support you with your university studies and alleviate barriers you face relating to your disability. This means DSA will not be able to cover:
- costs non-disabled students will also face – for example, course-specific costs like your textbooks and any course-specific software
- costs the university has a responsibility to cover – for example, providing resources in accessible formats, and ensuring you have accessible accommodation
- costs you would face if you were not studying at university – for example, prescriptions, dietary requirements or mobility aids
After your needs assessment, your assessor will draft a report and send a copy to you within ten working days. If you are happy with everything on the draft, your assessor will send a final copy to Student Finance for their approval.
Your assessor will ask your permission to send a copy of your needs assessment report to your university’s disability services. We suggest you give permission because this helps your university arrange the adjustments, support and strategies recommended in the report.