Disabled Student Allowance – how about a disabled worker allowance?

I recently applied for help with my studies as I have dyslexia.  I wasn’t too hopeful to be honest.  I expected some bureaucrat somewhere to ask for me to be tested again just to make sure.  The last and only test I had was when I was 21 and in the final year of my degree.  I didn’t get a great deal of help those final few months other than not being marked down for bad spelling.

I was pleasantly surprised by the help I’m going to get this time around.  Actually I’m amazed and it puts into perspective just how brilliant a welfare state can be.  I won’t go through it all here because future posts will be specifically about how the help has affected my studies.  However it is worth pointing out at this stage that the help includes technology and training and all of this is before I get to the college where I can expect further support.

Applying for the allowance is easy.  I first applied to Student Finance England (other bodies fund different parts of the UK) and then when I got the go ahead from them I undertook what is called a Studies Skills Assessment where a practitioner talked to me about my condition and how it affected me.   The assessor also showed me useful computer programmes that will help me maximise my potential.  Their report was sent back to SFE with a list of quotes for the technology and training.  SFE then wrote to me with the company they would like me to get the stuff from.  So now just a few weeks away from the first residential weekend at the college I’m awaiting a package of technology and training specifically designed to remove any barriers I might face as a result of my disability. 

This process has been an eye opener not just in terms of the help I can get to study but also the total nightmare that can result from requesting “reasonable adjustments” at work.  People with disabilities often suffer without the right equipment at work or without the right training or professional help to be able to cope with their disability.  Looking at the models in place for students it’s clear another way is possible and we should campaign for it.


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