On this page you will find information about what a Needs Assessment is, how to arrange one, and what preparation is necessary before attending.
What is a Needs Assessment?
The Needs Assessment is a meeting between you and an assessor, a person qualified by their experience and knowledge of the equipment and support that students with disabilities, including Specific Learning Differences (SpLDs) such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD, need to study successfully at university. These assessments take place at an approved Assessment Centre.
At the meeting, your study needs and the demands of your course will be discussed. The assessor will aim to agree with you all the equipment and support you will need for your studies that can be paid for from the DSA. The assessor will produce a written report of what was agreed, and copies will be sent to you and your funding authority (e.g. Student Finance England) for their agreement.
The assessment will also help you and your university or college to discuss and agree important study strategies that can help you to get the most out of your course. You should ask for a copy of the Needs Assessment Report to be sent to the Disability and Dyslexia Service at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).
Approved Assessment Centres
The Disability and Dyslexia Service at QMUL has an ‘outreach’ arrangement with the University of Westminster’s ‘CLASS’ (Central London Assessment Services) assessment centre which means that QMUL students can have their Needs Assessments carried out at QMUL through the auspices of the CLASS assessment centre.
Students are free, however, to use any assessment centre of their choosing.
How is a Needs Assessment different from a Diagnostic Assessment for SpLDs?
If your screening for SpLDs is positive, you will be sent for a diagnostic assessment with a SpLD diagnostician. This will confirm whether you have a SpLD such as dyslexia, dyspraxia or ADHD.
If you are applying for the Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA), the diagnostic assessment report is used as evidence of your SpLD, but you will also have to have a Needs Assessment to work out how the allowance can be used to support your studies.
How do I arrange for a Needs Assessment?
- You must have confirmation in writing from your funding authority that they agree for you to have a Needs Assessment.
- You can ask the Disability and Dyslexia Service to help you arrange the assessment. Alternatively, simply get in touch with the Assessment Centre and book an assessment yourself.
How do I prepare for the assessment?
Think about the course activities that you are expected to participate in:
- How the course is delivered (lectures, seminars, labs)?
- How you are assessed (exams or coursework)?
- Will you need any particular equipment or software?
- How might the workload change over the course?
- How much reading will you need to do?
- How many teaching hours are there every week?
- Are you expected to use on-line resources?
- Will you go on a placement or undertake field trips?
- Think about your previous study strategies. Did you have help from family, friends or teachers - people who might not be able to help now?
You can help the assessor by:
- Bringing along any relevant medical information, or other information, such as a diagnostic report for SpLDs, to your assessment.
- Bringing a copy of the letter from your funding authority.
- Speaking to your tutors and disability adviser in advance about your specific needs. They may have useful suggestions!