Ordering your DSA equipment can seem really daunting and confusing. Luckily there are resources out there to help make things a bit easier. This blog post will signpost useful links to help with ordering equipment and a guide to assistive technology and even free assistive software for those who can’t access DSA. Reimbursements and costs will also be covered- specifically the University of Sheffield £200 laptop contribution reimbursement scheme.
How to order equipment
www.YourDSA.com offers a full interactive roadmap on the DSA process. Their aim is to “produce a site that provides useful information on: Student Finance, Work grants, Specialist Support, and Assistive Technology.” so it’s well worth a visit.
Browsing Assistive Technology
YourDSA.com provide a guide to all sorts of assistive technology, which is a resource that “contains useful information on specialist Assistive Technology, including: Specialist Software, Freeware Software, Android Apps, iOS Apps, Ergonomic Equipment, Visual Impairement, hearing Impairement, Notetaking, Literacy, Browser Extensions, and others.”
Many software suppliers offer free trials so you can test them out before you receive them, these trials might also be helpful if you are waiting on your entitlement letter to come through, or you haven’t contacted the supplier yet for whatever reason but you need to use the software now. You may also be considering buying some of this software outright, if you aren’t eligible for DSA. However, YourDSA.com also provide a catalogue of links to free assistive software- which can help save you £££, a lot of the free software is still extremely helpful! I didn’t order my equipment until around 8 months after I received my entitlement letter and I was using free software just fine up until then.
If you are feeling proactive, you can browse the software you feel might be helpful, before your needs assessment and ask your Needs Assessor to recommend one piece of software over another if you prefer it. There is a lot of ‘rival’ software amongst DSA suppliers and it’s always good to explore your options, as some needs assessors may be more familiar with one than another, when actually you might prefer the alternate. Some examples would be Inspiration vs. Mindview, or Read and Write versus Dragon or ClaroRead.
Costs and reimbursements
Once you have received your entitlement letter, you need to get in touch with the listed suppliers to order the equipment you are eligible for. The letter will tell you how much (if any) you are liable to pay and also the cost of the equipment to SFE. The most often cost you will have to cover yourself is the £200 laptop contribution.
The University of Sheffield offers a reimbursement of £200 to students liable to pay the £200 laptop contribution cost towards a laptop recommended by DSA. Apply for the £200 laptop contribution reimbursement here. This means, unless your course requires higher specifications, your laptop will be free.
Needs assessors generally recommend you order your equipment as soon as possible after you recieve your entitlement letter with details of who to call. This is because quotes are often only valid for three months so if you wait beyond this time you may encounter further delays as your needs assessor/ SFE will need to request further quotes (to account for any costs that may have changed over the last 3 months).
If you need different specifications, for example a higher spec laptop, you can organise that with your supplier and pay the difference yourself. To find out if you need specialist equipment for your course, you should contact your department, and organise paying this difference with your supplier directly.
Thanks for reading,