Disabled Student Allowance (DSA)

Assesments process – DSA Student Assessments

AC-NI offers advice, assessment, support and training to people with disabilities, as well as professionals and employers who work with them.

AC-NI services are available to people who have a, physical disability, mobility difficulties, a disabling medical condition, mental health problems, visual or hearing impairment or a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism, asperger syndrome.

The process involved in applying for DSA:

  • Contact your Disability Officer – Student Disability Services
  • Get your evidence
  • Complete your application forms
  • Confirm DSA eligibility from your – Funding body (Student Finance NI)
  • Book your DSA needs assessment
  • Assessor produces your DSA needs assessment report
  • Your funding body will respond to you
  • Recommendations and support from DSA Needs Assessment put in place

Who should I contact?

Contact your Disability Officer – Student Disability Services within your University or Further Educational College for advice.


You can only be assessed for disabilities for which proof has been; provided to and accepted by, your funding body (Student Finance NI). This could be a medical report, doctor’s letter, in the case of a specific learning difficulty, an educational psychologist’s report.

There is extra help available if you have a disability or specific learning difficulty. In order to qualify, your Education and Library Board (ELB) must be satisfied that your disability will mean that you will incur extra costs while you study.

Complete your application form

Send the form off to your funding body, which could be Student Finance Northern Ireland.

Who are Student Finance NI?

Details of which Board to contact regarding your enquiry, are available from the website below and you can also identify which Education and Library Board you belong to.


Student Finance ni delivers financial support to students who normally live in Northern Ireland. It is a service delivery partnership between the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, the Student Loans Company and all five Education and Library Boards in Northern Ireland.

Finance Student Finance NI will confirming eligibility for DSA

Your funding body will let you know whether you are eligible for DSA. If you are, the letter will ask you to contact an assessment centre such as AC-NI for a DSA needs assessment. The centre will invoice your funding body directly – you will not be charged at all for the assessment.

Book your DSA needs assessment

You can arrange an appointment with ac-ni by calling our administration team on 028 90 850985, or by emailing us on una.lowry@ac-ni.com. Directions on how to find us on our website.

Ac-ni will confirm the appointment by telephone. If time permits we will also send a confirmation letter and if you need to forward us a copy of your medical evidence and funding body approval letter just let us know and we can send you a prepaid envelope.

DSA appointment – assessment of needs

Assessments do not involve further testing they are fairly relaxed meetings and nothing to be worried about . Your assessor will discuss with you the effects your disability or specific learning difficulties has on your learning needs. Your assessor will suggest strategies to help overcome the effect of the disability on your study needs. The assessor will discuss products, equipment, ergonomic support(s) and specialised assistive software.

An assessor cannot make recommendations relating to a disability that is disclosed during the assessment.

DSA needs assessment report

On conclusion of your assessment your assessor will produce a DSA Needs Assessment Report outlining your needs and recommended strategies. This will contain recommendations for equipment, human support, and help with travel, depending on your disability.

You will receive a copy of this report within 10 working days. A copy will be send to the disability officer at your place of study, and a copy will go to your funding body at the same time, unless you have asked to see a draft copy first.

Funding body – response to you

On receiving the DSA Needs Assessment Report from AC-NI, your funding body will contact you to let you know if they accept the assessor’s recommendations, and how to go about obtaining your recommended support. You should also be notified by your funding body if any of the assessor’s recommendations have not been approved.

Support put in place

Your funding body will inform you with the details of the supplier that has been approved to supply your products and equipment. Details of the suppliers can be found also on your report.

The supplier will probably contact you also to let you know they have received a request to place an order for your equipment and the lead period for delivery.

Your disability officer can suggest how to proceed with non-medical helpers and assistance, such as support skills assistance or note-taking support; this can often be arranged directly through your institution.

For other kinds of support, such as consumables, photocopying, or travel expenses, you will need to contact your funding body for reimbursement ensuring you keep receipts. You should check first with your funding body before incurring such expenses.

Contact us

This process is intended to help you fulfill your potential in higher education. If you have any further queries about this process, just give us a call on 028 90 850985 or send us an email una.lowry@ac-ni.com