All the programs except Dragon Professional are also available for both Windows and Mac computers. You can use it on a laptop in lectures, record via the app on a smartphone and then transfer it to the software, or record using a digital recorder and create the file afterwards. The voice can take a bit of getting used to, but there are quite a few different ones to try.
They can also be used to create audio versions of text that can then be listened to away from the computer, and have some additional proofreading and study skills options which can be handy. It takes quite a bit of practice to get used to and really depends on how well you can articulate your thoughts, but can be a useful tool for some. It has fewer features than MindView though, so may be a little easy to use, but the main difference is that it enables more freedom when creating mind maps as branches can be placed anywhere, rather than snapping into a set position as with MindView.
Useful for students with specific learning difficulties, but also students with fatigue, RSI, visual and hearing impairments. So anyway, you may be wondering by now what DSA actually is! It is a grant that pays for the cost of extra support that is needed by disabled students at university to put us at the same level as everyone else.
While it is classed as a grant, students do not receive the money directly. For example, for equipment the money is paid by student finance directly to the equipment suppliers, and for study support the money is paid by student finance to the university providing the study support.
We had a few talks about student finance from external organisations at school, and whenever DSA was mentioned it would be described as a grant for students with disabilities — they never went into any further detail about it. You may be eligible for DSA if you have a:. Guess how long mine has taken?
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The first problem I came across was right at the beginning of the application around May in year 12 — it was the evidence needed. This is because whilst cerebral palsy is classed as a physical disability, dyspraxia is classed as a specific learning difficulty which in this case was very annoying! So the evidence required for cerebral palsy was quite simple, just a letter from my GP to confirm that I have CP. For dyspraxia, however, I was told that I would need an educational psychologist report that was carried out after the age of But if I had both disabilities would I need both pieces of evidence?
Some people told me to just get the evidence for my CP and just put my disability down as CP, as dyspraxia and CP can have quite a bit in common anyway. I explained, though, that dyspraxia affects me differently to how I would be affected if I just had CP — such as the way dyspraxia affects my memory and organisation. I went to my GP, and she said that she would be able to write a letter with the facts regarding my CP by looking back at my records but that I would need to contact my school about the evidence required for dyspraxia, as it would need to be done by a specialist teacher or educational psychologist.
My school said that it would be unlikely that I would be able to be assessed by their eduational psychologist, so they tried to get in contact with the Low Incidence Team who work with students with physical and neurological disabilities , but they were unable to get in contact with them although I did have a meeting with them a few months later at the beginning of year 13 anyway.
My GP had never even mentioned this charge originally! I would be able to get a letter from my GP to say that I have CP and dyspraxia, explaining how it will affect my study and if I could get hold of the report from my original diagnosis of dyspraxia from when I was 3 then this might also be useful. I let my school know about this, and they also pointed out that I could use the report from a specialist teacher from the Low Incidence Team from when I was in year Beforehand I had written a list of how my disability affects my study, which I gave to the doctor so that she could talk about it in her letter.
Coincidentally, it turned out that the doctor we saw had a son who had dyspraxia, who was at university, and he had also applied for DSA! She said that she would be able to write a letter about my CP, but for dyspraxia I would need to have an assessment done by a specialist teacher or an educational psychologist. So we were back to the beginning again! We then got in contact with my school again, but they said that it was very unlikely that I would meet the threshold to be assessed by their educational psychologist. We then went to pick up the letter the GP had written about my CP, and it seemed ideal!
In December I went on another open day to the university I was most likely going to choose. Me and my dad spoke to the disability support department again and we were then told that the evidence required for dyspraxia depended on where you were diagnosed — as you can either be diagnosed by a paediatrician or a psychologist. If you were diagnosed by a paediatrician then the post 16 evidence you will need is medical evidence, whereas if you were diagnosed by a psychologist then the post 16 evidence you will need will need to be carried out by a psychologist. The next day the person we had spoken to from the disability support department emailed me and had a look at the evidence I already had to see if she thought that would cover my needs.
She thought that the evidence would be okay, but suggested applying as early as possible so that if something does go wrong with the evidence then there is time to sort it out. The form stated that written consent was needed. Me being a typical dyspraxic literal thinker thought that written consent literally meant hand-written consent — the irony of literal thinking when the form we were filling out was for something related to dyspraxia! I later found out that they had postponed these cuts, which was a relief!
So the next stage was to fill out the DSA application form. The form was quite simple to fill out. One of the parts of the form asked for full details of your disability. The funny thing is, I was writing about having difficulties with handwriting and it actually took me multiple attempts to write! I kept making mistakes and having to start again, but I got there in the end after about five attempts. So then the DSA application form along with the evidence was sent off.
I was still really uncertain about the evidence, but there was nothing I could do apart from send it off and hope for the best! I heard back quite quickly. I had an email with a letter attached saying that I was eligible for DSA for cerebral palsy and dyspraxia — which was such a relief! Me and my dad both thought that was great as it meant the most complicated part was over…we had no idea how complicated it would get! The next part was for me to choose an assessment centre. I had a look at the website and decided to either choose the one which was nearest to me or the one which was based at my choice of university.
So I then phoned the assessment centre centre this was at the beginning of March. They told me that student finance were issuing new guidelines for needs assessments and that these new guidelines were supposed to be coming out that day. So I went ahead and arranged an appointment for the following week, hoping that student finance would have issued the new guidelines by then.
I then filled out the forms that were required, including my pre-assessment form for the report, and emailed them to the assessment centre. The assessment centre said that I would be the first to know when the guidelines came through. I was then contacted about 3 weeks later as the assessment centre had received the guidelines. I arranged an appointment, by this time my appointment was arranged for the middle of April.
Next was the needs assessment itself. When I arrived, firstly they got my name wrong — twice!
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They asked him if he would be doing some shopping while I was there and when he said that he was planning on staying there they pointed out how long the needs assessment was going to take. If this happens to any of you and you want someone to be with you in your needs assessment, make sure they insist that they stay as they are allowed to!
I was glad my dad did stay during the assessment as, although the assessor mainly spoke to me, there were some points where my dad could explain things much better than I could. One of the questions I was asked near the beginning was what laptop I currently had. This was going to be complicated as I was currently using a laptop I had been loaned through school which would be given back at the end of the year , and I also had an old laptop at home, but for my birthday in May I would be getting a new laptop — a Macbook.
It would have been so much easier if I had just said that I had already got a MacBook and would have prevented a lot of later problems!
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So in the needs assessment they went through the different areas of studying and we talked about how my disabilities affect me and I was able to try out different equipment. We were talking about typing and I explained how, although I find it much easier than writing, my arms do still tire when typing. So I got to try out some armrests to see if I think they would be helpful. The laptop stand in the photo is one I bought myself, not funded by DSA.
I also received assistive software: ClaroRead text-to-speech software , Dragon dictate speech-to-text software , MindView mind-mapping software , Audio Notetaker software that allows you to import powerpoint slides, notes, and audio together so that you can have your lecture notes along with recordings all in one place.
For the software I had 4 x 2 hour sessions of assistive technology training. The other support I had was one-to-one study skills support for up to 30 hours per year — this is to help with study skills such as planning and organisation. I received a travel allowance which meant that I would have a taxi account set up between my house and the train station I commute to university and the train station in Cambridge and my university.
I would pay the cost of public transport and the rest of the cost would be funded by DSA. I was glad that I had put dyspraxia down on my application for DSA and not just CP as I did feel that a lot of the support I received, such as one-to-one study skills support, was more to do with the way my dyspraxia affects me than my CP.
My needs assessment lasted 2 hours and I requested to have a draft copy of my needs assessment report.
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I was asked to find out some more information about the cost of a bus fare for the cost of public transport between Cambridge train station and my university, so I did this after the assessment and emailed the information to the assessment centre. I was asked to respond within 3 days.
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There were some mistakes in the report, so I emailed the assessment centre about this and they responded the next day. I was then sent the final version of my DSA report 4 days later and I was told that it had been sent to student finance. There was still a slight error regarding the cost for the travel allowance, so I emailed the assessment centre to inform them of this.
They said that they would forward it to the centre manager, but I never heard back from them about this!
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I then phoned my assessment centre and they said they had sent the needs assessment report. So where had it gone wrong?! My needs assessment centre got in contact with student finance and then phoned me back. Apparently, my needs assessment report had been lost as the email had been overlooked by student finance. So I phoned my needs assessment centre, and apparently there had been a query and they were waiting for my needs assessor to get back to them it would have been helpful if they had actually contacted me to inform me of this. I was told to wait another week. So for another week I waited, and again I waited for a phone call that I was never going to receive.
So I phoned student finance this time. They informed me that the letter I was waiting for had been sent in the meantime while they were getting the travel aspect sorted. So eventually I received the letter. By this point it was June and I received the letter on a day I had an exam! So that made me think that some of the equipment must have been missing, but the letter just showed the total cost and not each item of equipment so there was no way of knowing. I phoned my assessment centre and they said that if I got in contact with student finance they would be able to give me a breakdown of the equipment.
I had to email them a copy of the letter, for them to email me a breakdown of the equipment. Although they did actually reply quite quickly. It turned out that the equipment was actually all there, so there must have just been a slight change in price. Although I did need to ask for the laptop to be taken off and if I could have Mac versions of the software rather than Windows.
For some reason in my needs assessment report a Windows laptop still had to be recommended, even though I knew I would be getting a MacBook.
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