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The Disability Support Services Available to New Students in Nottingham

13 September 21 words: Frieda Wignall

Academia can sometimes be tricky to navigate with a disability, whether it’s hidden or otherwise. Each of the roughly 10,000 disabled students in Nottingham deserves to live their university experience to the fullest, whatever your access needs. Below you’ll find some tips and info to get you started...

Graphic of two hands holding each other

Key Advice

Start early.
Talk with your university disability service as soon as possible. Be prepared and get a support plan in place. Universities can arrange support workers, coursework extensions, exam accommodations, formatting of library resources, flexible attendance, lecture slides online in advance and more. They can send recommended adjustments directly to your School to inform your tutors of the support you require during your time at university.

Register with a GP.
Something all students should do, but if you are a frequent visitor or are on regular medication, this ensures you are covered and there are no gaps in your care. 

Join a society.
With dozens to choose from, there’s something for everyone! Some are disability-related, like UoN’s Wheelchair Basketball club or NTU’s Sign Language Society, and some are not, but the options are almost endless. Both universities also have a Disabled Students Network. 

Speak up.
Don’t struggle in silence or be afraid to vocalise what you need. Make sure you ask for the help you are entitled to. If you face discriminatory behaviour, raise it with your university disability service or the disability/welfare rep of your student union. 

Don’t pressure yourself.
Work at a pace that is manageable for you. Don’t forget: your worth is not defined by your productivity. 

Download AccessAble.
This app provides information about thousands of venues in the UK and their accessibility. Everyone’s needs are different and the app caters to this – you can find out if a pub is wheelchair accessible or if an art gallery has audio description.

UoN Disability Support
NTU Disability Support

Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)

60% of students who are eligible for the DSA are unaware of it and don’t apply. So, what is it and how do you get it? 

DSA is a support fund designed to cover any additional essential study-related costs you may have as a direct result of your disability. It is a grant and you do not have to pay it back. DSA covers support for physical disabilities, mental health conditions, long-term health conditions and learning differences like Dyslexia and ADHD and Autistic Spectrum Conditions. 

Through DSA you can receive specialist equipment like a screen reader, adaptable furniture for your room or services like support workers (including note-takers or sign language interpreters) depending on your needs. DSA could even cover the additional cost of transport to and from your university campus if you can’t access public transport, for example.

You can apply for DSA via the Student Finance England website. This can be done at any time during the year and is separate from your student loan application. However, you will need to update your existing Student Finance details to say you’re disabled if you haven’t already. Once you do, the DSA application will come up on your to-do list on the Student Finance website. 

The DSA application involves submitting evidence. For most people, filling in the short DSA evidence form or a letter from a health professional is enough. For Specific Learning Differences like dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD etc you will need to have a recent diagnostic assessment. Once your application is processed and your eligibility is confirmed, a DSA assessment takes place. This is essentially a brief chat to determine what equipment or services you might need. 

If you feel like you could benefit from DSA, even just a little, then apply. Do not think that your disability or medical condition may not qualify  – these resources are meant to help you.

gov.uk/disabled-students-allowance-dsa

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