Information for DSA Needs Assessors
The information below is intended to help needs assessors when assessing students at the University of Reading by providing some information about how we work with disabled students studying here, including the support and adjustments available through the university.
The information below is not intended to be pasted verbatim into section A-4 of the needs assessment report, but to help assessors with making their recommendations and advising students on the support available through the institution.
Assessors are also very welcome to contact the Disability Advisory Service to discuss specific recommendations for support - please call 0118 378 4202 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The university provides a range of accommodation for students, including catered and self-catered halls, rooms with en suite bathrooms and rooms with shared bathroom facilities, postgraduate-only halls, and halls with designated quieter areas. Many of the halls are located on the main Whiteknights campus, within a short walk of the main campus facilities. If a student identifies having any disability-related accommodation requirements in their needs assessment, please document these in section D-1 and advise the student to contact the Disability Advisory Service.
For students who have a disability-related requirement for a room with en suite facilities, the university will reimburse the additional cost of this. There is an Accommodation Support Application form that students can use to apply, or they can contact the Disability Advisory Service directly.
If students, for disability-related reasons, require additional study support to help them with organising their workload, prioritising their work according to deadlines, managing their time, providing a link with the academic department or with understand their course requirements, the Disability Advisory Service provides academic mentoring support. This matches students with a postgraduate student from a similar academic discipline for a number of one-to-one sessions to provide focussed academic support.
If it is identified during the needs assessment that support of this nature may be of benefit, assessors are welcome to state in section D-1 of the report that this support may be available, subject to approval by the Disability Advisory Service. However, please note that this service does not provide the specialist study skills support required by students with specific learning difficulties or ASD, and so would not be provided to students eligible for DSA-funded study skills support.
Assistive technology provision
There is limited AT provision with the university for students to access. Some library computers have Texthelp Read&Write installed and students can also access MindManager using the university's site license. There is one computer within the library that has Supernova and Zoomtext installed. The Disability Advisory Service has some equipment (digital voice recorders and laptops with the main AT installed) which can be loaned to students on a short-term basis while they are waiting for DSA-funded equipment, or if their equipment is being repaired.
Band 1 & 2 NMH support
If NMH support is identified in the needs assessment which falls outside current DSA provisions, such as Band 1 and 2 NMH support, assessors are asked to outline the difficulties that the student is likely to face, and outline any specific details relating to why DSA-funded support will not be sufficient. The Disability Advisory Service will then follow up with the student to assess what HEI funded support may be required.
For students who may require manual note taking support and who will not be eligible for DSA funding to cover the cost of this, assessors are asked to consider recommending equipment-based strategies that the student may, with support from the university, be able to implement, or work towards implementing in the future.
Band 3 & 4 NMH support
Assessors are asked to consider recommending Randstad as a supplier of Bands 3 and 4 non-medical helper support. Randstad have worked closely with the university for a number of years and as such can provide a joined-up service with regard to the provision of NMH support. The University of Reading falls under Randstad's South East NMH Rates.
Coursework extensions and marking stickers
Students can apply for an extension for written assignments/coursework if they have faced 'extenuating circumstances' such as personal, medical or family problems that have negatively affecting their academic performance. Being disabled does not automatically constitute an extenuating circumstance, but a period of ill health due to an existing health condition may.
Students with specific learning difficulties will be provided with stickers to attach to coursework and examinations, that indicate specific learning difficulties and ensure that work is not penalised for poor spelling, grammar and syntax (except where these are defined as competence standards). Students should contact the Disability Advisory Service for more information.
University of Reading students who have a household income of under £25,000 can claim back the £200 student contribution toward the cost of a new computer. This can be reimbursed after the computer has been purchased or paid directly to the approved supplier when the order is made. Students are automatically informed if they are eligible for this (based on their application for general student finance) once the needs assessment report is received, but are also welcome to contact the Disability Advisory Service directly to find out more. We do not want students from low income households to be deterred from accessing equipment-based support because of the £200 contribution, so assessors are encouraged to share this information with students they meet.
The university does not have a lecture capture system to provide students with recordings of lectures and so DSA-funded note taking support will be essential for students who may struggle with this area. There is a University policy in place which permits students to make an audio recording of a lecture. Permission to make audio recordings of teaching sessions other than lectures may be left to the discretion of the member of staff leading the session.
University of Reading students have free access to Office 365, allowing them to download Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint on to up to five different personal devices, as well as have access to 1TB of online storage via OneDrive. For more information see www.reading.ac.uk/office365.aspx.
Where students face potential barriers to transitioning to university life due to specific difficulties with managing the social demands that this entails, the university provides social mentors to help. These are usually second/third year students who can spend time with new students during the first few weeks of term to help them to manage any difficulties they face. The social mentor role is broad ranging and responds to the specific requirements of each student, from help with joining university clubs and funding their way around campus, to just someone to meet for a coffee and chat.
This support is primarily, but not exclusively, for students with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and if it is identified in the needs assessment that this would be of benefit, assessors are welcome to state in section D-1 of the report that this support may be available, subject to approval by the Disability Advisory Service. Please note, this support is not intended to replace DSA-funded specialist mentoring, and a student in receipt of DSA who felt that they would benefit from social mentoring would be expected to have funding for specialist mentoring.
The University of Reading has three campuses; Whiteknights, London Road and Greenlands. Postcodes for each of these, for calculating travel costs for example, are at the bottom of the university homepage. Most students are based at Whiteknights except those do courses with the university's Institute of Education, who are based at the London Road site, and students doing the MBA or DBA programmes, who are based at Greenlands.