Disabled Students Allowances inquiry
The APPGAT has begun work on a new report on assistive technology and the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). Since 2014, the government has introduced a series of reforms to the program, including a £200 charge for some kinds of hardware. The report explores the impact of this change on students ability to access the technology they need.
At an evidence gathering roundtable, parliamentarians heard that many students delay, or simply never, order their equipment because of the out-of-pocket expense. The meeting brought together the perspectives of needs assessment centres, technology companies, universities and students. Rachel O'Brien, NUS Disabled Students’ Officer, outlined the union’s concerns that the charge has put further pressure on disabled students. Several of the Parliamentarians in attendance also drew on their own experiences with disability and neurodiversity: Emma Lewell-Buck MP, Shadow Minister for SEND explained how a delayed diagnosis of dyspraxia impacted her as a student; the Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Addington highlighted a lack of awareness of assistive technology and what it means for dyslexic people such as himself; Crossbench Peer, Baroness Campbell reaffirmed the importance of placing disabled people at the centre of the needs assessment process; and Marsha De Cordova MP, Shadow Minister for Disabled People, spoke about the support that she received from a Disabled Students’ Allowance.
Closing out the meeting, our chair, Seema Malhotra MP, set out the APPGAT's plans to take forward the evidence from the roundtable, together with interviews, and written submissions, and the newly released Department for Education research into DSAs, into a new report aimed at informing parliamentarians as they continue to scrutinise the government’s reforms to the DSA. If you would like to share your evidence or perspective in relation to this inquiry, please email Robert McLaren at robert.mclaren [at] policyconnect.org.uk. To make sure you get all the updates from the project, please subscribe to our newsletter.