Wednesday 01-03-2017 - 16:40
NUS Disabled Students' Campaign wants to help those who are entitled to DSA but have not been able to complete their orders due to financial constraints.
Starting with the September 2015 cohort, disabled students have been required to pay a £200 contribution towards the cost of certain essential equipment that was previously covered by Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). If students are recommended provision of a computer to run specialist software, such as speech-to-text or text-to-speech software, they now have to pay the first £200 of that cost themselves. Upfront. Without a loan. Without even a means-testing process.
Since the introduction of this student contribution, there has been a significant downturn in the number of students taking up the equipment that has been recommended for them, even though applications have increased and so have recommendations. Data from the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA), who represent companies who produce the software used in DSA, shows that out of 1,028 students surveyed, 10% had not paid their £200 contribution to access support - and for 69% of those students, it was because they could not afford to do so.
This means there are potentially thousands of disabled students in England who are studying without the support they are entitled to under DSA, simply because they cannot afford that. There could be many who have dropped out entirely due to a lack of support.
We at NUS believe that education should be accessible to all, regardless of their background or financial circumstances. The £200 charge represents a threat to that, denying students the support they need. NUS is looking to help students who are entitled to DSA, have applied this year, and are not able to complete their orders as they cannot afford to pay £200 towards their equipment.
If you are a student who meets those criteria, or you know a student who does, then please get in touch with me on email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Together we can fight this unfair charge and make your DSA a right, not a privilege.