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Improved support needed for disabled university students

14 July 2020

DR UK is calling on the Department for Education to scrap the £200 charge disabled students need to pay towards their specialist equipment.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Disability (for which DR UK co-provides the secretariat along with Warwick Business School) recently highlighted the continuing barriers faced by disabled university students.

Disabled students told the APPG about the delays in obtaining accessible equipment and the financial contribution of £200 they have to pay towards it.

From this September it is likely that most lectures will be online, so experiencing any delays in support such as accessible computers would put disabled students at a considerable disadvantage.

The APPG intends to write to Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, asking that he ensures that accessible equipment is received by disabled students in August and that the £200 contribution is removed.

Fazilet Hadi, DR UK’s Head of Policy said: “Not only is it harder for disabled people to get to university but when we get there, we still don’t always get the support we need.

“It is not acceptable that disabled students have to pay for their own reasonable adjustments. The government recognises the need for adaptations in the workplace and provides free of charge equipment and support for employees under the Access to Work Scheme. Disabled students, who lack the benefit of a salary, should be given the same parity of experience in the form of necessary equipment, free at the point of need.

“Given the shift to online learning this year, the contribution must be discontinued to give disabled students their best shot at a high quality education.”

A Commission on Disabled Students led by the Right Honourable the Lord Blunkett will report in the autumn.  

 

What is the Disabled Students’ Allowance?

This allowance is for items of specialist equipment you need to take part in your study programme and benefit fully from it. Students may need:

  • a computer
  • specialist software, such as voice recognition, mind mapping or screen reading software
  • audio capturing equipment
  • specialist furniture, such as a chair, table or back support
  • multifunction printers and scanners
  • insurance or extended warranty for the equipment
  • training in the use of specialist equipment.

In England, disabled students currently have to pay £200 towards the cost of a new computer if they need one to run any recommended assistive software. Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) will not cover the cost of standard computer peripherals (eg speakers, headphones, USB drives or cables, keyboards, standard size monitors or mice) unless they’re part of a recommendation for a desktop computer. Exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Any equipment bought with the allowance belongs to the student. Students don’t have to return it when they finish their course. Normally the awarding authority orders and pays for the equipment on the student’s behalf and delivers it to you. Any repairs or warranty costs the student has should also be met by the DSA.

Read more here: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/applying-disabled-students%E2%80%99-allowances-dsas