Those with dyslexia need continued aid

March 13, 2014

In questioning the suitability of the Disabled Students’ Allowance for supporting dyslexic students (“Time to rethink dyslexia?”, Opinion, 6 March), Julian Elliott should be reminded of the Equality Act 2010.

Those with dyslexia who do manage to reach higher education can find themselves at a serious disadvantage. But without proof of their disability, they are not entitled to additional support. (And a student’s diagnosis must be provided by a suitably qualified assessor.)

It has been recognised for the past 20 years that dyslexic and disabled students have been under-represented in universities. We should applaud the efforts to do more to improve access for disabled students. Those who received the Disabled Students’ Allowances achieve the same degree level as their non-­disabled peers, while those without such support achieve lower degrees. Universities have worked hard to identify students who need extra support – a recent survey showed that only 43 per cent of the students receiving the Disabled Students’ Allowance had been diagnosed while at school.

But we at the British Dyslexia Association are concerned about government cuts to the Access to Learning Fund. It was made clear in the grant letter that the Access to Learning Fund would cease to exist but would be brought together with the Student Opportunity Fund. In light of the £162 million cut (Access to Learning at £37 million and the Student Opportunity Fund at £125 million) and the pressure this will put on institutions’ budgets, we worry that support for students’ disability diagnoses will be seriously affected. As this group, which is protected under the Equality Act, has a right to appropriate support, we consider these cuts to be discriminatory.

The Access to Learning Fund has done much to help disabled students, and has helped many dyslexic students to gain support as well. The financial cut would disadvantage dyslexic students, as they will be indirectly discriminated against and fail to receive necessary support.

Kate Saunders
Chief executive
British Dyslexia Association

 

It is important to recognise that Julian Elliott is not a maverick nor a lone voice among educational psychologists. I haven’t done a survey, but I would guess from talking with colleagues that his is the majority position on the status of developmental dyslexia.

It is extraordinary that the validity of dyslexia assessment and treatment has been taken more or less on trust in the academy. It’s surely time for a sector-wide appraisal of the scientific status of developmental dyslexia and the allowances made for its putative existence.

Gary Thomas
Professor of inclusion and diversity
University of Birmingham

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands