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FAQs

Your Funding Body will ask you to have a DSA assessment carried out so that your particular needs can be matched with those of your proposed course to ensure that you get the help that you will need. The DSA assessment may identify the types of equipment and other support you will need, how much it will cost and where to get it from. It will also identify any training you might need to make best use of the equipment recommended, and detail any special examination arrangements.

The cost of your DSA assessment will be paid from your DSA allowance and is charged at £660 (+VAT). If you need help with travel costs to the assessment, you should ask your Funding Body whether they can help as this can be paid from the General Allowance of the DSA.

You should not arrange for a DSA assessment without first confirming with your Funding Body (SFE/NHS) that they agree for you to do so.

How soon can I have an assessment done?
Once your Funding Body has established your eligibility for the DSA and you have provided supporting evidence of your disability or specific learning difficulty from an appropriate specialist to AccessCentral, a DSA assessment can be arranged by calling AccessCentral.  If you are about to start you university studies it may be possible to have an assessment before the start of term, and even before you have a confirmed place at an institution.

Once your Funding Body has established your eligibility for the DSA and you have provided supporting evidence of your disability or specific learning difficulty from an appropriate specialist to AccessCentral, a DSA assessment can be arranged by calling AccessCentral.  If you are about to start you university studies it may be possible to have an assessment before the start of term, and even before you have a confirmed place at an institution.

Contact AccessCentral if your Funding Body have written to you to confirm your eligibility and asked you to contact an assessment centre.

You can get in touch with AccessCentral by email, by telephone (0121 222 5346) or text, when we will agree a convenient date and time for your assessment.  This date will be confirmed once you have sent the following information which is required no later than five working days prior to the assessment to enable the Assessor time to prepare.

  • Evidence of your disability (a photocopy is sufficient), for example, a letter from your Doctor or Consultant or an Educational Psychologist report.
  • Confirmation letter from your Student Finance England/ Funding Body that you can have a Study Strategies Assessment.  AccessCentral requires this confirmation in writing (a photocopy is sufficient).
  • Completed Assessment Booking form sent to you by AccessCentral with the provisional booking letter.

If we do not receive this documentation AccessCentral will regrettably have to cancel your appointment.

We will also send you written confirmation of your assessment appointment, together with a map and directions on how to find us, and a few details on what to expect during your assessment.

The assessment is confidential and conducted in a relaxed and supportive environment by assessors with specialist experience of your disability or specific learning difficulty. The assessment is not a test but the opportunity for you to discuss your additional learning needs within the context of your studies. You will have the opportunity to talk about your past experiences and any strategies you have developed to address your difficulties. Your assessor will consider any items of information and communication technology and/or ergonomic equipment you may need, together with support strategies including note-taking, study skills tuition (dyslexia), mentoring, etc.

We recommend that you allow up to 2 hours for your assessment. There is no testing involved in this process.

AccessCentral will charge a student’s funding body a single assessment fee of £660 (+VAT) which will cover the cost of all the work required for the duration of the course of study. This will include:

  • Considering additional medical evidence of a student’s need which has been approved by their funding body following the Needs Assessment.
  • All activities undertaken by the assessor to review the student’s DSA support for the duration of their undergraduate and postgraduate studies as and when required.
  • Liaising with funding bodies, equipment suppliers, HEIs and other stakeholders for the purpose of reviewing the student’s support needs.

Following an assessment, students who present medical evidence of any additional diagnoses which have been accepted by their funding body during the course will receive a response from AccessCentral, in accordance with the above points.

Examples of your work are often helpful, eg lecture notes, assignments, a course outline and a copy of your most recent timetable.

Your assessor will prepare a report detailing their recommendations, based on the difficulties and strategies discussed with you during your assessment. Where requested, a draft report will be sent to you within 10 working days and you have the opportunity to ask any further questions you may have.

If you accept the recommendations made in your report, AccessCentral will send a final copy to your Funding Body for funding authorization. With your permission, a copy will also be sent to disability support team at your university or college.

The Assessor will write a report based on the information you discussed and the documentation you provided for your assessment, along with other relevant information from your Tutors or your University/ College.  All recommendations need to be clearly justified based on your disability-related needs for the course to enable your Funding Body to release funding from the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) or other funding sources.

The report, based on your needs, will suggest strategies which you can use during your studies and will recommend the type of assistance you require from the DSAs.

Recommendations usually include the following:

  • Details of costs and suppliers of specialist equipment
  • Maximum weekly hours and suggested rates of pay for any personal assistance (non-medical helper) you need
  • Details of any reasonable claims for additional miscellaneous or travel costs you might have while studying.

A final copy of the report will be sent to you, the Awards Officer at your Funding Body and, with your permission to your University / College Disability / Learning Support Adviser.  If your Funding Body is paying for the assessment they will always be sent a copy of the report.

If your application is successful, your Funding Body (SFE/NHS) will tell you the amount of help you can have from the DSA. The Student Loans Company will make DSA payments either to you, into your bank account, or directly to the supplier of equipment or services.

I need equipment/ support now – what can I do?
Some Universities / Colleges can arrange to lend equipment to students who are waiting for DSA funding.  Contact your Disability / Learning Support Adviser for more information.

Can I receive equipment before my course begins?
Possibly, once your Funding Body (SFE/NHS) has established that you are eligible for DSA, it can pay for items of special equipment recommended in your DSA assessment report shortly before the start of your course so that you may use them from the very beginning of your studies. However, your Funding Body (SFE/NHS) will ask for evidence that you have been accepted on your course before they will consider doing so. If you do not go on the course, you must return any equipment you have received to your supplier.

  • The assessor will make notes during the assessment and may record the interview to ensure accuracy and reduce the need for note taking.
  • Your report will be produced on a word processor.
  • All notes and copies of the final report will be kept securely.
  • Paper based information may be kept for a period of up to 3 years but is usually destroyed before then.
  • An electronic copy of the report may be retained for up to 7 years.
  • A copy of the report will be sent to you for checking and comment.
  • A copy of the report will be sent to your funding body (usually SFE or the NHS). It is a condition of the assessment that you agree to the above. Other copies will only be released with your approval.
  • A copy of the report will also be sent to the support staff at your university / college if you agree. You are strongly advised to allow us to do this otherwise your university / college may not be able to provide appropriate support.
  • If you lose your copy of the report we will supply you with one additional copy free of charge.
  • Please note that you should not rely on AccessCentral to keep copies for you and you are advised to keep a copy of the report safely in case you need it at some future date.

All equipment bought with DSAs is, and will remain, your property. You may decide to offer the equipment either to your university or college or your Funding Body (SFE/NHS), for other students to use. Or you can keep the equipment if you are intending to go onto a further course of study (for example, an ‘add-on’ or postgraduate course).

AccessCentral is committed to providing a high quality service and achieving the highest standards of conduct from its staff. We strive to provide all of our clients with the most appropriate and efficient solutions and deliver services in a timely and professional manner. One of the ways in which we can continue to improve our service is by listening and responding to the views of our clients.

If you are dissatisfied with the way you have been treated or with the service you have received we wish you to know that:

  1. We treat as a complaint any clear expression of dissatisfaction with our service which calls for a response;
  2. We will treat it seriously whether it is made in person, by telephone, by letter, by fax, or by e-mail;
  3. We will deal with it promptly, politely and, where appropriate, informally;
  4. We shall endeavor to respond in the appropriate way – for example, with an explanation, or an apology where we have got things wrong, or information on any action taken etc;
  5. We want to learn from complaints, using them to improve our services.

How to make a complaint?

  1. You can make a complaint in writing, by fax, by e-mail, by telephone or in person (by appointment please). If you are writing, faxing or e-mailing your complaint, please provide your telephone number if a response by telephone would be convenient. If you are e-mailing, please state if a reply by e-mail is required and, if not, please provide a full postal address.
  2. If you know the name of the person relevant to your complaint please make your complaint direct to them.
  3. If you do not know who to direct your complaint to you should contact The Manager to obtain this information.

After you have made a complaint

  1. We will reply within 15 working days from when we receive your complaint. If it is not possible to give you a full reply within this time – for instance, because a detailed investigation is required – we will give you an interim response, telling you what is being done to deal with your complaint, when you can expect the full reply and from whom.
  2. That full reply will include details of who to contact next if you believe that your complaint has not been dealt with properly. This will normally be an appropriate member of staff at the next level of the management structure. NB. The final stage in the complaints procedure will be dealt with by the Managing Director.

Complaints about related organisations
The Centre works closely with a range of agencies, organisations and suppliers. If a client has a complaint regarding one of the suppliers that we have recommended, we would like to know about this. We will where necessary advise and advocate on behalf of clients in the resolution of the issue. If a client wants to complain about some other related organisation we are only able to advise them on whom to contact where we ourselves are aware of who that may be.

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You can find more information on DSAs in the Bridging the Gap booklet, this is also available from your Funding Body: http://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas/further-information

Information sheets are also available from Skill: National Bureau for Students with Disabilities, at www.skill.org.uk

Call us now for more details on 0121 222 5346