Needs assessment guide

What is a DSA study needs assessment?

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The first thing to know if that although it’s called a needs assessment, you are not going to be assessed in any way – there are no tests to complete and the difficulties that you may experience are not going to be checked or assessed. Instead you get to assess the different types of support available through the Disabled Students Allowances funding to work out what will be most effective in supporting your difficulties.

The session is guided by a needs assessor, who will help ensure that you have thought of all the possible areas that you may have difficulties, and will then go through the different support options with you. This is likely to include demonstrating some software (have a look here for some examples) and potentially looking at different types of equipment so that you can see whether the support will be useful to you.

The assessor will encourage you to say what you think will be helpful from the recommendations discussed, and what you don’t think will be useful. The recommendations made for the funding are based to a large degree on what you think will work for you – you are the expert, not the assessor!

You will also be told how you access the support once the funding has been approved, and taken through the process of ordering equipment, setting up any one-to-one support and claiming back any general costs.

How much does it cost?

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The assessment will not cost you anything. The cost paid to Ultima Education is £599 for the needs assessment. This fee is paid from the Disabled Students Allowances funding meaning that you do not have to pay for it yourself. We may also be asked to undertake a review of your needs,  which does incur an additional charge, but this is again covered by the Disabled Students Allowances funding.

If you cancel your needs assessment within 24 hours of the appointment, a cancellation charge may be made, which is also paid from the Disabled Students Allowances funding.

Can I bring someone?

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If you would like to bring someone with you, that’s fine, and that can be a parent or friend. We have plenty of space in our assessment centre and understand that the situation can seem quite daunting for some people. If having someone with you helps you, then please bring them along.

Wherever possible we ask that children do not accompany you to your assessment as it is then understandably difficult for you to give your full attention to the assessor and the support being discussed.

How long does it take?

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The assessment can take up to two hours, though may not take this long – we allow up to two hours as this is sometimes needed and we don’t want you to feel rushed. 

Occasionally the needs assessor will discuss whether it may be beneficial to refer you for a follow up assessment where more specialist equipment will be available to try. This can happen for students who require specific ergonomic items, such as specialist chairs, but can also be the case for students with visual and hearing impairments. This would be arranged for a later date at your convenience.

After the assessment, we will write your needs assessment report and send it to you and your funding body withing 10 working days. Your funding body will then take a couple of weeks to review the recommendations and send you confirmation that they have been approved for funding. You can then order any equipment and book in any one-to-one support.

What happens after the assessment?

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The assessor will also explain how the information taken in the session will be used, and who you should contact if you have any questions in the future. You will also be asked if you would like to see a draft copy of your report before it is sent to your funding body.

All of this information, and a summary of the recommendations that have been agreed in the assessment will be documented, and a summary of this will be emailed to you so that you have a record to refer back to.  

The assessor will then write a DSA study needs assessment report which is sent to your funding body, who make a decision about whether the recommendations made meet the funding criteria. They then email you with instructions for how to get your support in place.