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I would like the universe to STOP SUCKING now, thank you. - helen-louise
I would like the universe to STOP SUCKING now, thank you.
Dear Miss Helen [0] $My_lastname,

Thank you for your recent application for the Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs) to assist you with your graduate Diploma in Chemistry.

It would appear from your doctor's letter that your condition [1] is stable with medication [2]. Furthermore, physiotherapy if necessary, is available through the National Health Service with your doctor's referral [3] and asthma and allergies are very common in everyday life [4]. Therefore, it is not clear what you are hoping to get with the Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs) [5].

Please be aware that DSAs are not intended to assist with disability-related expenditure which the student would continue to incur if s/he were not attending her/his course.

Yours sincerely
Student Support Manager

[0] There is no person of that name in this house.
[1] Note the singular. Apparently I only have one thing wrong with me?
[2] Or rather, my mental health was stable before I incurred the stress of going back to university. Since then I have done rather more crying in the toilets/in people at college's offices than I would like.
[3] WTF? Physiotherapy? This makes NO SENSE. I have a congenital spinal malformation, the best physiotherapy can do is stop it getting worse.
[4] And even more common in a chemistry lab full of allergens.
[5] Oh, you know, things like:
* A specialist mental health counsellor/mentor to help with my academic study organisation and stress levels.
* A personal assistant to help me in the library and to carry heavy books to and from college for me.
* Additional photocopying expenses needed due to difficulty in handling heavy books.
* A decent back-supporting chair and desk - as the type of chair you need for hours of study is not the same as a comfortable chair for sitting in at home.
* Occasional taxi fares, for when I am too exhausted to manage public transport yet well enough to concentrate on the lecture.
* Additional photocopying expenses needed due to the fact I will miss more lectures than the average person because of illness, and will need to make copies of other people's notes.
...and I haven't even started thinking yet.

What the hell are these morons on?

Yes, I am going to set the college Disability Services Manager on the council (I've spoken to him already), and he is going to KICK RIGHTEOUS ARSE. Nonetheless, I Do Not Need This. Not on top of being sick and stressed and behind with my course. I just don't.

Tags: ,
Current Mood: enraged livid, actually

24 comments or Leave a comment
(Deleted comment)
baratron From: baratron Date: 29th October 2008 15:40 (UTC) (Link)
Part of the problem is that the DSA form itself sucks. You are expected just to list your ailments by title, and write nothing about how they affect your day-to-day life or ability to study. If the council gatekeeper has never heard of one of my diagnoses (VERY probable), would s/he think to telephone my doctor and ask for more information? No, it simply gets ignored.

The idea behind this is that it's up to an access centre to determine what support you need, rather than for you to say what you want. It may be that the best support for you is something you hadn't thought of. Nonetheless, a person with my diagnoses should get DSA more-or-less automatically. Having bipolar disorder ALONE is enough to get it, without a bunch of mobility issues. Grah!
jinian From: jinian Date: 29th October 2008 16:15 (UTC) (Link)
Right, so it's "unclear" what would help you because they never let you tell them. I suspected as much. Jerks.
baratron From: baratron Date: 29th October 2008 20:33 (UTC) (Link)
Yup. The point of the council gatekeeper is to look at the form, say "Oh, there are several serious diagnoses there that meet the Government criteria", read the doctor's letter to confirm that I genuinely have them, then rubberstamp the application and send me to an access centre, who will decide what I need/how much money I need. It's not for me, the college or the local council to decide how much money I need, that is left to a professional access centre whose only function is to allocate central Government resources for students with disabilities.

It's not even the local council's money! It's central Government money which does not come out of the council's budget at all! The councils are just there to spread out/speed up the allocation of funding to students living in their area. Grah.
From: kshandra Date: 29th October 2008 15:43 (UTC) (Link)
It went direct on the 15th, actually...and things seemed to promptly get WORSE for a lot of folks I know.
barakta From: barakta Date: 29th October 2008 15:36 (UTC) (Link)
Drugs, evidently. Or they've decided you're one of those students who think DSA pays for non academic expenses or even the course fees!! This is actually very very common.

Definitely appeal with exactly those reasons you list in this post.

Your asthma is severe, and results in your having poor physical stamina yadda yadda and requires that 'reasonable adjustment' or equipment is purchased to enable you to complete labs. e.g a mask to filter out stuff? A support worker (altho there's issues about what YOU do and what THEY do etc etc).

Physiotherapy is just rude if you never requested it on your original DSA. Sounds like they're talking shite and should be told that.

It doesn't matter re mental health stability or otherwise as you have to work to maintain that and as a result of it need mentoring support to ensure you're keeping track. IIRC you have a diagnosis of bipolar which will suffice and as I asked MH_caseworker colleague earlier student who've had 1 episode of psychosis are DSA-eligible and he has several of them.

Am happy to try and catch you on IRC some time to help break this down.

The d
baratron From: baratron Date: 29th October 2008 22:18 (UTC) (Link)
Your asthma is severe, and results in your having poor physical stamina yadda yadda

This is, no doubt, another of the major problems/miscommunications.

In doctor speak, my asthma is "mild". This means it can be controlled with reasonably low doses of inhaled steroids and lifestyle changes. (People always forget the lifestyle changes - the inability to go to the pub or to a nightclub for 6 years, etc.) Doctors only call asthma "severe" when you're at the point of needing constant steroid tablets and regular spells in hospital.

Likewise, my scoliosis is "mild". This means that I can walk most of the time, only need small doses of painkillers regularly, and only spend a few days each year completely flat on my back going "argh".

A non-medical person can read a letter from the doctor and think you have no serious problems because of the language that's been used. I'm not sure my doctor was adequately clued-in to what was required here. (I'm not sure I was adequately clued-in to what was required here. I figured it was just a case of proving that I have the medical condition and then up to the Access Centre to determine how bad it was.)
barakta From: barakta Date: 30th October 2008 08:32 (UTC) (Link)
The council are idiots given you have more than one diagnosis which should automatically entitle you to have an assessment. Once you've had your needs assessment from the ACCESS centre and got recommendations the council may refuse some of it but have to have some basis or you could appeal then DDA them.

DSA has changed a lot since I knew it so I've been picking colleague's brains like mad this week to learn fast.
barakta From: barakta Date: 30th October 2008 08:33 (UTC) (Link)
I can also recommend a JISC mailing list "Dis Forum" for disabled students and staff. It's mostly staff but they are the people who would understand what to do next if you needed it.

kyte From: kyte Date: 29th October 2008 17:08 (UTC) (Link)

*hugs and spoons*
karen2205 From: karen2205 Date: 29th October 2008 17:56 (UTC) (Link)
Eeek, hope the Disability Services Manager is able to cluebat the Council sufficiently well for you to get the services you need.
leback From: leback Date: 29th October 2008 18:12 (UTC) (Link)
That's spectacularly foolish of them. From the sheer ignorance and offensiveness they manage to cram into just a few sentences, one would never imagine that they encounter disability issues at all regularly, let alone as part of their JOB. I'm sorry you're having to deal with it, especially right now.
eponymousarchon From: eponymousarchon Date: 29th October 2008 18:23 (UTC) (Link)
Oh 'eck - that was spectacularly crap of the council. Here's hoping this guy gets to kick butt *hard*.

quiet000001 From: quiet000001 Date: 29th October 2008 19:18 (UTC) (Link)
Wtf? I got better help from the disability office when I was a student in the UK, and I didn't qualify for the DSA! (Seeing as how I wasn't, you know, British.) They made arrangements with the library for someone to help me with books and photocopying if i needed it, and so on.

Plus, even over here in the land of no socialized anything, I get all kinds of help from the uni disability office, including equipment loans if need be.

May he beat them HARD with a clue bat.
baratron From: baratron Date: 29th October 2008 20:11 (UTC) (Link)
He's blind, so it may take several attempts to get the aim right :D I'm rather amused by the thought of the number of council officers/offices he might be able to destroy on the way to getting the one we want, though :D
From: x_mass Date: 31st October 2008 12:05 (UTC) (Link)
mark is amazing, he's great to chat to, albeit i never managed to hug him as much as i have wanted to. he's really cool
baratron From: baratron Date: 31st October 2008 17:30 (UTC) (Link)
He talks A LOT, though. To the point where we often don't get done what I'd gone into the office for. It's a bit annoying, that - I'd rather get the damn paperwork done and then chat about interesting stuff when there is time.

Sometimes I have considered what would happen if I put him and my mother in a room together. Both could talk for their country. In fact, either of them could be the British Olympic Talking Team Coach. Who would win?
From: x_mass Date: 31st October 2008 23:10 (UTC) (Link)
a_musing_amazon From: a_musing_amazon Date: 29th October 2008 20:35 (UTC) (Link)
As I remember it (when I was the support person for students with disabilities in my School at Huddersfield Uni) students were supposed to have an assessment, preferably before they started their course that would identify what specific academic-related support/equipment they required, rather than expect you to work it all out/justify it yourself.
baratron From: baratron Date: 29th October 2008 22:28 (UTC) (Link)
That's still how it is.

1. I fill in a form with minimal detail and send it to the council along with a letter from my doctor.
2. The council gatekeeper looks at the form and doctor's letter and confirms that I have diagnoses worthy of help from central Government.
3. The council gatekeeper rubberstamps the application.
4. I go to an independent access centre, who will decide what I need/how much money I need.
5. The council allocates the Government money to pay for the stuff I need or pays me the money for things that can't be bought directly.

I am just so fucking boggled and insulted by the letter I've received. It's talking gibberish at me. Where the hell did they get the idea that I wanted money to pay for physiotherapy which, as they say, is free on the NHS anyway? It's like they've never met someone who had a disability other than dyslexia or an obvious physical impairment.
a_musing_amazon From: a_musing_amazon Date: 29th October 2008 23:05 (UTC) (Link)
I suspect part of the problem is their lack of context for you. Most DLA applicants will have been school/college students in the borough and they will therefore be treating it as a continuation of a support problem they have faced before (good LAs were the ones that did get on with arranging the assessment before I saw students at the Uni, when quite often we had no time to help process their DLA and put arrangements in place before the start of teaching). Maybe a lot of their 'non-standard' applicants are 'speculative' and they have just responded on autopilot. Still doesn't excuse their letter to you though.

aquaeri From: aquaeri Date: 30th October 2008 23:56 (UTC) (Link)
It sounds like you should re-submit the identical application, with the identical disabilities, adding at the bottom "Homicidal rage when dealing with clueless bureaucracies".
From: x_mass Date: 31st October 2008 12:02 (UTC) (Link)
thats really odd, stated the obvious. stated the obvious again. I sure mark will kick the hell out of them he really knows his stuff.

Edited at 2008-10-31 12:13 (UTC)
baratron From: baratron Date: 31st October 2008 17:32 (UTC) (Link)
I just hope the original letter-signing moron is present in her office on Monday at 3pm. Otherwise he will be intimidating other morons instead, which may not be so effective as they will want to defer to her.
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