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How and where to find disability support

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Explore how and where to find disability support at the University of Sunderland, with the Head of Disability Services, Ben Hodgson.

At Sunderland, the Disability Support Team (DST) provide information, support, and guidance to students with disabilities, mental health difficulties, specific learning differences (such as Dyslexia), Autism Spectrum conditions and long-term medical conditions.

Open Day Learning and Support Team

How can the Disability Support Team help me?

Ben says: "We work with and try to engage with as many disabled students as we can before they actually start their studies. We work together with students to formulate what we call a Student Support Plan, which is an overview of the student’s condition and how that might impact their studies in key areas that. With the permissions of the student, we then share that information with their Lecturers. Students can work with us on an ongoing basis during their studies so once they come and register with us, we are able to work with them until they graduate."

Can I get disability support before I start at the University?

"Many students contact a Disability Support Adviser before they actually arrive at University. This gives the team plenty of time to discuss and assess their needs and plan their support. We email applicants that declare a disability through the admissions process and encourage them to meet the team. Coming to university can be a big change, very challenging and stressful. Generally, we find it’s much better to have support in place and ready to go, to make that transition as smooth as possible." Ben explains. 


Am I eligible for the Disabled Students Allowance? 

For eligible disabled students, there is the potential for additional funding to be available via Student Finance England. You can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) if you live in England, are classed as a Home student and have a disability that affects your ability to study, such as a:

  • learning difference, for example, Dyslexia or ADHD
  • mental health condition like anxiety or depression
  • physical disability, for example, if you’re partially sighted or have mobility difficulties
  • long-term health condition such as Diabetes, Fibromyalgia or HIV
  • Neurodiverse condition, such as Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome 

The Disability Services Team can also provide assessments for Disabled Students Allowance via the University of Sunderland Assessment Centre.

What can the Disability Students Allowance pay for? 

"DSA is available to home students in addition to support the University provide. DSA can pay for additional specialist equipment, typically, things like assistive software, technology and ergonomic equipment. It also helps to pay for specialist support for those students that are eligible, for example, 1:1 Specialist Study Skills for autistic students and students with a Specific Learning Difference (eg Dyslexia or Dyspraxia). Specialist Mentoring is available for Autistic students and/or those who may have a mental health condition. DSA can also help pay for ergonomic assessments of a workspace if, for example, somebody needs their desk or seating configured in a certain way." Ben explains. 

"The information that we send to applicants via our Admissions process flags up DSA to them as well. Applicants get information about my team and what we do, but I also put in links/information about DSA. Our partner colleges know about DSA, so they should also be making students aware of what is available and how to apply." 

How can you get in touch with the Disability Support Team?

You can contact the Disability Support Team by telephone on +44 (0)191 515 2952, sending an email to disability.support@sunderland.ac.uk or by coming to Student Support at Edinburgh Building, Level 1, City Campus. If you use The Gateway lift, press E1 to get to their floor.

Read more about the Disability Support Team or go directly to information on applying for Disability Support Allowance. You can also contact and follow the team on Instagram @disabilitysupportteam

You can also find the wider Student Support Services on Twitter @SupportUoS

Published: 24 April 2023