Can a student with Visual Stress/Visual Dyslexia/Meares-Irlen Syndrome never be eligible for the DSA? It **can** surely be a disability within the meaning of the Act:
The definition of ‘disability’ under the Equality Act 2010
In the Act, a person has a disability if:
•they have a physical or mental impairment
•the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to perform normal day-to-day activities
For the purposes of the Act, these words have the following meanings:
•'substantial' means more than minor or trivial
•'long-term' means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least twelve months (there are special rules covering recurring or fluctuating conditions)
•'normal day-to-day activities' include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping
Reading is a 'normal day-to-day activity', particularly for a student.
Professor John Stein has long argued that Visual Stress and SpLDs are entirely separate syndromes, although often co-occuring.
If the condition can be completely remediated with coloured glasses, then it would arguably not be regarded as a disability for the purposes of the Act (see http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/uploaded_files/guidance_on_matters_to_be_taken_into_account_in_determining_questions_relating_to_the_definition_of_disability.pdf) (short url http://ian.lt/sBJMta) p36.
But it depends on the severity. Sometimes coloured lenses may not be enough to overcome the difficulty?
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From: Discussion list for disabled students and their support staff. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Emily Colyer
Sent: 03 January 2012 11:36
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [DIS-FORUM] DSA for HE Students with Visual Sensitivity
I would like to enquire about other institutions policies of implementing support for students with diagnosis of Colorimeter Sensitivity/ Irlen’s syndrome but no SpLD.
We have a first year student who underwent a very basic screening for visual sensitivity at their previous institution which recommended coloured paper and a coloured overlay. The screening went on to recommend coloured lenses and further screening with a spectral filter diagnostician (Irlen Syndrome Diagnostician).
The student has informed us that they were screened for Specific Learning Difficulty alongside this assessment and no evidence of SpLD was found.
The student proceeded with applying for DSA on this evidence alone to their Welsh LEA before commencing their studies at our institution. The LEA granted DSA and the student received an Assessment of Needs report. Within this report the student has been recommended specialist equipment and software, the further Colorimeter Sensitivity screening and referral for lenses and general allowance. In addition within the report the student has also been recommended to be able to record taught sessions, receive extended library loans, and exam arrangements in the form of extra time, separate room, a reader and coloured paper.
As far as our service has been aware, we have been advised by SFE that students with visual sensitivity alone, would not be eligible for DSA. However, it seems that the Welsh LEA have a different interpretation of the guidelines. Have any other institutions had experience of this?
In regards to the lecture, library and exam arrangements, normally the institution would only implement the provision of colour paper and overlays for students with visual sensitivity and no SpLD, however, we are keen to know what other institutions implement in this situation, we are particularly interested in the type of examination arrangements implemented with the above diagnosis?
Emily Tamara Jones (Maiden name Colyer)
Disability Support Officer
University of Chester
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