2. Be assessed

Once your application has been approved, you will receive an email from your funding body confirming your eligibility for the DSA. 

Attached to the email will be your DSA1 confirmation letter. It’s important to keep hold of this letter because it proves that you are eligible and provides instructions on arranging your needs assessment. Here’s an example of what a DSA1 looks like.

The key thing to remember is that 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:

  1. Contact your needs assessment centre. You can find their contact details on your letter!
  2. You can choose where and when you would like to be assessed. It can be online, over the phone, near your home, or near your university. The format you choose is entirely up to you. Don’t worry about the price; your assessment is completely free and paid for as part of your DSA.
  3. Attend your needs assessment. Your needs assessment centre will guide you through the process and be on hand if you have any questions or concerns. 
What will happen in my assessment?

The 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 for support. You will have the opportunity to talk about your past experiences and any strategies you have 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
What do I need to bring with me to the assessment?

Your needs assessor may ask you to provide certain information before your appointment to help them understand your specific support needs.

They may request:

  • Your DSA1 confirmation letter
  • Your medical evidence
  • Information about your computer or laptop, if you have one

The needs 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 to ensure you remember to discuss them all.

To help you get in the right mindset for the session, consider asking yourself:

  • What kind of support did I receive at school? 
  • Is there something I’ve struggled with in the past that has never been addressed? 
  • Is there anything about my course I’m anxious about? 

Don’t worry if you don’t know the answers to these questions; remember that your needs assessor is there to help guide you to think about the particular challenges you might face and work with you to come up with solutions.

If you have a needs assessment after you enrol, it might also be helpful to send your needs assessor an outline of upcoming assignments, a course outline or a copy of your most recent timetable.

How long does an assessment take?

We recommend that you allow up to 2 hours for your assessment, but they are often completed sooner.

What won’t my assessment cover?

DSA is specifically designed to support you with your university studies and alleviate the barriers you face that relate to your disability. This means that your DSA will not be able to cover the following:

  • Costs that non-disabled students will also face, for example, course-specific costs like your textbooks and any course-specific software
  • Costs that the university has a responsibility to cover, for example providing resources in accessible formats, and ensuring you have accessible accommodation
  • Costs that you would face if you were not studying at university, for example, prescriptions, dietary requirements or mobility aids
What happens after my assessment?

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 your funding body for their approval.

Here is the template your assessor will use when completing your needs assessment report.

Your assessor will ask for 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.

Almost there! Let’s now look at what happens when your funding body approves your support.