Additional Support and Disability Advice Centre
What We do
The Additional Support and Disability Advice Centre (ASDAC) aims to provide advice and support about disability related issues to assist disabled students in maximising their full potential.
ASDAC intends the term ‘disability’ to include all sensory and physical impairments, mental health difficulties, chronic illnesses, autistic-spectrum disorders, and specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia.
Confidential advice from disability professionals
ASDAC has three Disability Officers (DOs), all of whom are able to offer guidance on the support options available to you. One of these will be initially allocated to you as a 'lead' DO on the basis of their particular expertise on certain disabilities or conditions, but all are familiar with the general and specific implications of most disabilities. This means that you can always see another if unavailability of your DO would delay a subsequently requested meeting. Similarly, we can always re-assign you to another 'lead' DO if you indicate that this would be your preference.
Conversations with the DOs are strictly confidential. We actively encourage you to discuss all your disability-related issues so that we can better advise you concerning available support in light of the full picture of your needs. Information about your disability and support needs may be disseminated on a 'need to know' basis but only after you have given your explicit agreement. Should you wish certain details of your disability and/or support needs to remain confidential then we will respect your wishes.
Our DOs are responsible for initial appraisal of your likely support requirements and for guiding both you and the staff in your academic department with respect to access to reasonable adjustments. The DOs are able to offer guidance on:
- Suitability of available evidence
- All aspects of the University's support protocols
- Accessing funding
- Accessing support services
- Obtaining structural alterations to teaching and assessment methods where appropriate
- Screening for of Specific Learning Difficulties and, if appropriate, referral to appropriate professionals for full assessment
The DOs are available to review your support throughout your studies, not just when you enter the University. If your support requirements should change over time, the DOs are able to reassess your support needs and adjust the provisions made for you.
Advice on funding to cover disability-related support costs (incl. disabled students allowances)
UK students are normally eligible to obtain financial support from their funding authority to cover the costs of any 'additional' academic-related support needs. Additional needs are those that arise directly as a consequence of your disability, not simply because you are a student.
This support is provided via the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). The DSA covers costs associated with assistive technology, support workers, travel, and some other general costs. How much you can get does not depend on your income, or that of your family, but it does depend on a 'needs assessment'. A needs assessment will be carried out at an independent assessment centre by a person with specialist knowledge, who will work out what kind of help or support you will need to make sure you get the best out of your time at university or college.
Further information about the DSA can be obtained from ASDAC and/or your funding authority.
- Student Finance England
- Student Finance Wales
- Student Finance Northern Ireland
- Student Awards Agency for Scotland
- NHS and Social Work Students
ASDAC's Disability Officers and the Casework Administration Team can provide advice on the suitability of your evidence, the application process, timescales, and can also help to liaise with your funding authority.
Our local DSA assessment centre, the Wessex Needs Assessment Centre, maintains an outreach office in the Nuffield Centre where assessments are conducted for University of Portsmouth students. Appointments can be booked by contacting ASDAC.
Discussion and agreement on appropriate reasonable adjustments
The University aims to be a fully inclusive institution that is fully accessible to all students and achieves this through the following means:
- the proactive identification and dissemination of good teaching practice through a network of Learning and Teaching Committees
- an Equality Analysis framework that reviews the University's policies and practices
- an Estates strategy that embeds accessibility in all refurbishment, adaptation, planned maintenance and new-build activities. (Visit DisabledGo to obtain full access details on all the University's premises)
The general aspiration is to minimise the number of specific adjustments that need to be made for you by the provision of a educational experience and environment that is already as accessible as reasonably possible, thus maximising the opportunities for you to access and address your studies as independently as is possible and appropriate.
Nevertheless, in many cases additional adjustments will always be necessary and it is ASDAC's responsibility to identify and agree such adjustments for all disabled students. With the exception of an automatic 25% time allowance in timed assessments provided if you have disclosed and satisfactorily evidenced dyslexia or dyspraxia, all adjustments are specifically tailored to your individual needs. These are applied to all learning, teaching and assessment processes, and you will be provided with the opportunity to discuss and agree these through one-to-one interview with one of ASDAC's Disability Officers. Further information.
Communication of Support Requirement to Departments
Relevant information regarding the nature of your disability and the specific adjustments that have been agreed are communicated to those administrative and academic staff responsible for the management and delivery of your chosen programme of study This communication is managed through a filtered linkage from our confidential database to the University's central student record system and provides us with the general facility to accommodate any special confidentiality requests that you might have.
Associated University services and facilities
There are ten assistive workstations distributed at strategic locations across the University campus. These aim to facilitate access to University computer facilities for students with physical and sensory impairments and have additional features such as; height adjustable furniture, assistive peripherals, OCR scanners and magnification facilities. For locations and additional details click here.
Networked Assistive Software
Assistive software is available for student use on the University's networked workstations, including:
- Text Help Read & Write
- Zoom Text
The University Library provides extensive personal support and facilities for disabled students. All members of the library staff can help with:
- Searching the library stock
- Locating stock, checking the shelves and fetching books and journals
- Supply of alternative formats for key texts
- Literature searches
- Inter-Library loans
- Using the database workstations
Confidential support is also available from Elisa Lillicrap, Senior Library Assistant. Tel: 023 9284 3210. Email: email@example.com.
The University provides a student counselling service for all students. Students can receive confidential 1-to-1 support or attend various group sessions aimed at addressing specific areas of frequent concern, including: Emotional Coping Skills, Learning about Bereavement, Supporting Yourself, Managing Stress, and Mindfulness.
Mental Health Advice
The University employs a Mental Health Adviser who is an experienced mental health professional. The Mental Health Adviser is able to:
- Offer information about mental health and the services available
- Give advice about medication and treatment
- Make a full assessment of your needs
- Make referrals to the Psychological Therapy Service or other sources of help where appropriate
Generic Study Skills
The University provides extensive generic and course-specific study skills tuition and support for all students through taught units embedded within each course. In addition, remedial study skills support for students arriving without prior formal academic qualification or who have been out of education for a long time can be accessed through self-referral to the University's Academic Skills Unit.
For those overseas students for whom English is not a first language, further support is provided by the School of Languages and Area Studies which runs a comprehensive programme of English for Academic Purposes at no additional charge .
Course-Related Software TrainingTraining on the use and applications of all course-related hardware and software is embedded within taught units delivered at departmental level.
Other Student Support Services
ASDAC works closely with all other student support services and Disability Officers will liaise and refer when appropriate. Links to those other services most closely associated with ASDAC are:
Arranging note-taking, mentoring and other academic support services
As well as own our in-house specialist 1-to-1 study skills and assistive technology tuition services, ASDAC has developed long-standing collaborative and referral arrangements with external support agencies specialising in the provision of other personal support services.
Our Disability Officers can advise on and assist with referrals to the relevant agency, each of which provide a range of different forms of support that collectively cover such activities as note-taking, transcription, physical assistance with practical tasks related to study, specialist mentoring and guidance, interpretation support and mobility assistance. Provided the support is recommended in your Needs Assessment, all services provided by these agencies will be invoiced to, and funded directly by, your DSA provider.
Our main external agencies are:
Note-taking, personal assistance/facilitation, academic support
Note: We have had close collaborative links including a formal service level agreement with Clear Links since 2004.
Academic Mentoring for students with social impairments
Note: We have an outreach HAS unit of dedicated specialist support workers located within the University's Nuffield Centre working in close collaboration with ASDAC Disability Officers.
Sensory Impairment & Deaf Services Team
Portsmouth City Council
Horizon Resource Centre
Hampshire PO6 3LP
Tel: 023 9237 3362 (voice)
Tel: 023 9232 2117 (textphone)
Fax: 023 9232 2115
Specialist study skills tuition and assistive technology training
University Generic Study Skills and IT Support
The University provides extensive generic and course-specific study skills tuition and support for all students as part of the taught units associated with their course of study. In addition, remedial study skills support for students arriving without prior formal academic qualification or who have been out of education for a long time can be accessed through self-referral to the University's Academic Skills Unit.
For those overseas students for whom English is not a first language, further support is provided by the School of Languages and Area Studies which runs a comprehensive programme of English for Academic Purposes at no additional charge.
Similarly, training on the use and applications of all relevant course related computer hardware and software is embedded within the taught units associated with the course.
ASDAC Specialist Study Skills Support
If you are in receipt of Disabled Students Allowances due to a specific learning difficulty or other cognitive impairment, you will normally receive support for 'specialist' 1-to-1 study skills tuition that is over and above this normal University provision.
You are, of course, entitled to appoint your own tutor and pay them from your DSA entitlement but, from the University perspective, access to sufficient numbers of suitably qualified tutors outside the University is essentially unrealistic if we left all the 400+ students typically seeking such support each year to do this on their own. There can also be additional employment law, tax and National Insurance payment issues to address and it is unreasonable to expect you to have to address these on top of the demands of study and assessments.
Consequently, and as an additional service, the University have appointed a team of specialist tutors specifically to support the demand for this tuition. All our tutors have professional teaching qualifications and accredited qualifications in teaching students with Specific Learning Difficulties.
These specialist 1-to-1 sessions are very well received and many students return for additional sessions as the demands of study change during their course. Demand for tutor services is consequently very high, particularly at the beginning of the new academic session when new entrants are also anxiou to receive support. While ASDAC makes every effort to avoid and/or minimise delay in providing you with this tuition service, some delay may be unavoidable during the autumn term, particularly if you are late in applying. Consequently, ASDAC operates a very proactive waiting list system and if you are placed on it you will be contacted by mobile to see if you are available at short notice to take up an appointment left vacant due to cancellation by another student.
New students are also prioritised at the start of each academic session and an "Early Start" programme is offered to all new entrants who have a confirmed place and DSA and are able to attend in the three weeks leading up to September registration. However, if you still find yourself experiencing a delay that is unsatisfactory to you then, as indicated above, you are perfectly at liberty to seek out specialist tuition outside the University - your Disability Officer can advise on ways of seeking suitable alternative tutors.
ASDAC Specialist Assistive Technology Support
An integral part of the work of the specialist tutor team is devoted to assistive technology training and support. All students in receipt of DSA will be eligible for the provision of assistive software and hardware relevant to their particular condition and associated needs, and ASDAC supports that provision through the University network and personal training in use and applications. ASDAC tutors have extensive experience of all the software packages currently recommended by needs assessors and keep abreast with all new developments through a formal and funded programme of continuing professional development.University Network Support
ASDAC is responsible for the provision of relevant assistive software within the University's network and this is generally accessible to all students. The current provision aims to reflect the main packages recommended by needs assessors to enable you to continue to use software provided by your DSA when working on university computers.Assistive technology training
If you have assistive technology software provision through their DSA you will also normally have additional provision for funded training sessions in its use and applications. ASDAC's assistive technology training aims to maximise the relevance and utility of the software within the students' specific course contexts in an approach that emphasises associated study skills as much as the technical features of the package concerned.
In this respect it is qualitatively superior to training packages offered by the commercial software suppliers themselves and is of considerably more relevance to applications related to the student experience at Portsmouth. Training on the techniques to maximise the benefits of hardware such as digital voice recorders and assistive peripherals is also available. Sessions explicitly aim to:
- Maximise the use of and applications of soft/hardware within a personal study skills strategy
- Facilitate adaptation to personal learning styles
- Enhance confidence and independence of learning within course contexts.
This emphasis on applications within context also makes ASDAC's assistive technology training of value to you even if your level of computer literacy is more than sufficient for you to grasp the general use of the technical features without external advice. Consequently if you have funded provision for assistive technology training then you are strongly urged to take advantage of its availability and contact ASDAC at the earliest opportunity so as to integrate available technology into your studies right from the outset.Equipment and software loans
ASDAC maintains a stock of assistive equipment and software for loan to disabled students as appropriate and it is available if you are not in receipt of DSA funding, or experiencing undue delay in its provision. Training in its use is similarly available.
Do Not Attend (DNA) Policy
As there is no additional learning support funding available to the University to meet the cost of the specialist tutors' employment, these costs are recouped through direct application to your funding body, (most commonly Student Finance England (SFE)) for each hour of DSA funded support. Payment is based on time sheets signed by you and SFE impose strict conditions regarding payments for non-attendance without satisfactory reason. Consequently ASDAC is required to operate a formal DNA policy that has been approved by SFE.
Screening for suspected Specific Learning Difficulties
Screening and Outcomes
We offer a screening service for all students who find some aspects of their courses more challenging than they anticipated and wish to ascertain whether this difficulty might be down to a previously unsuspected Specific Learning Difficulty.
While we strongly advise you to make every effort to get an up to date psychological assessment prior to registration if you already have reason to believe you have a Specific Learning Difficulty, if you have failed to do so for whatever reason you can also take advantage of this screening service.The screening takes the form of a short computer based assessment and handwritten questionnaire and is followed by a briefing from a Disability Officer on the outcomes. These will indicate whether there is a low, borderline, moderate or high probability of your having an underlying specific learning difficulty but it should be stressed that this is an imperfect process and outcomes should only be regarded as indicative.
Given this uncertainty, whatever the outcome you will be offered the opportunity of a definitive formal psychological assessment by an independent Chartered Educational Psychologist and, provided you are currently* registered on a course of study and are a home (UK) student, an automatic contribution of 60% towards the cost of this assessment from the University's Access to Learning Fund will be made.
It is entirely your decision as to whether you would wish to proceed in the light of the screening outcome and this possibility of having to contribute up to 40% of the cost of further assessment. However, the Disability Officer can assist you in making that decision through discussion of the pros and cons indicated by the outcome of the screening process.
The University does have a visiting Chartered Educational Psychologist who attends four times per academic year and, subject to pre-payment of your agreed contribution towards the cost, ASDAC will make a referral on your behalf for the next available appointment. However, the timing of his next visit may introduce a delay that is unacceptable. If this is the case you are encouraged to make you own arrangements for an assessment outside the University , and the same level of financial contribution towards the cost of that assessment will be available from the University on production of receipts.
*Note: "Current" registration - once you have completed an academic year your registration lapses until re-registration the following September. Consequently, the above financial contribution is not available for assessments conducted over the summer break.