Providing Learning Support for Blind or Visually Impaired Students Undertaking Fieldwork and Related Activities

How to Prepare Your Students

Student funding and allowances

Disabled Student Allowances (DSAs) are available to all students who are undertaking courses which are 50 per cent of the time-equivalent of a full-time course. (Before September 2000 this allowance was means-tested and allocated to full-time undergraduate students only.) It should also be noted that these allowances do not apply to PGCE students and those in receipt of awards from Research Councils. Also, from 2000, the amount of money received by individual Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to support their provision for disabled students is based on the numbers receiving the Disability Students Allowance at their institution. The full regulations are available from the Department for Education and Skills (

Students may apply for three kinds of grant under the DSA scheme:

Students apply for an allowance through their Local Education Authority. However, the LEA awards the allowance based on recommendations from a needs assessment carried out by an Access Centre or similar body at the student's institution. This means that if any additional resources and costs are likely to arise from a visually impaired student undertaking fieldwork, then the geography department should ensure that the student's requirements are made known to the Access Centre as soon as possible after enrolment so they can be included in the assessment.

Question for investigation

Do your blind or visually impaired students have personal insurance cover for their equipment while on field courses? Does your department and/or institution have specific insurance cover for field activities, and does this include any cover for blind or visually impaired students?

Page updated 14 December 2001

GDN pages maintained by Phil Gravestock