Your Needs Assessment

This page provides information on what to expect from your needs assessment.

Please note that this guidance is for SAAS-funded students only. If you are a student funded by a different funding agency, please see the relevant links on our Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) webpage.

Preparing for your needs assessment

Your Disability Advisor will discuss Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) with you when you have your initial appointment about support for your studies. If you are eligible for DSA, your advisor will add you to a waiting list and in due course you will be offered a “needs assessment” appointment. 

What is a Needs Assessment?

A Needs Assessment is part of the DSA application process and is essential for identifying any barriers you experience with learning and studying so that recommendations can be made about how to best support you.  This might include a range of one-to-one support, equipment, and software.

The Needs Assessment will include a short demonstration of equipment and software, and web links to short video demonstrations can be emailed to you for feedback.

Who will carry out my needs assessment?

Your assessment will be carried out by your Disability Advisor or an experienced Needs Assessor. If it’s an assessor you have not met before, they will introduce themselves to you by email and invite you to an appointment on Microsoft Teams for your assessment.

What will I be asked?

You will be asked a range of questions that will help the Assessor understand how your needs affect your learning and studying such as:

  • Mobility (travelling to campus; accessing classes; work placements)
  • Dexterity (any issues with upper body strength such as, making coordinated hand and finger movements to grasp a pen or pencil, or operate a computer keyboard)
  • Speech (working in groups, one-to-one, by phone, giving presentations)
  • Reading (print; computer screen; understanding quickly; any blurring/merging of words)
  • Written work (course assignments; exam answers; spelling; grammar)
  • Note-taking (in tutorials, lectures, practical/laboratory settings, online classes)
  • Memory (focus, remembering details, concentration)
  • Study Skills (organisation, meeting deadlines, revision technique)
  • Exams/Assessments (personal experience, challenges, extra time awarded)
  • Equipment you currently own (PC; printer; internet access)
How long will the meeting take?

Typically, it will take between 1 and 1.5 hours depending on the amount of information that needs to be gathered and discussed.  You can take breaks if required, just let your assessor know during the appointment if you need a break.

How will we meet if it is not face-to-face?

You will meet online using Teams:

Microsoft Teams is free to download for those with an Office 365 subscription.

What will happen after my assessment?

After your assessment, your assessor will type up your assessment in full and then it will be emailed to you for approval before being uploaded to the SAAS portal by your Disability Advisor – you will receive an email from SAAS when it is uploaded.

If you have chosen HWU to act as your equipment supplier, your software and any equipment would then be ordered at this point.

If you are ordering it yourself, you must wait for SAAS to approve your DSA application and for the funds to be released to your bank account before purchasing. See further information below.

Please note, that at busy times SAAS waiting times for DSA approval can be up to 6 weeks. HWU no longer receive copies of DSA approvals, so students should forward email copies on to their Disability Advisors once they receive them.

Information on the current SAAS waiting times can be found on the SAAS website.

What are the differences between students self-purchasing and HWU acting as supplier?

Your needs assessor will go through the different choices for ordering your equipment when you have your needs assessment appointment.

If you choose for HWU to act as your supplier, that means we will order your equipment/software and then send the receipts into SAAS. As HWU order the equipment when your assessment is uploaded to SAAS, you will receive your equipment sooner than if you order yourself, and you will not have to send invoices to SAAS as all of this will be done by HWU. You can only choose this option if you DO NOT want to upgrade any items listed in the quote in your needs assessment.

If you want to upgrade any of the equipment (e.g. the recommended laptop), you must choose the option to order yourself.

If you are ordering the equipment yourself, you must wait for SAAS approval before purchasing as they do not reimburse students who have already purchased equipment and software.

Some further things to note if you are self-purchasing:

Heriot-Watt University will have no further role after the needs assessment if you are self-purchasing and won’t become involved should any after-sales issues arise.

You do not have to purchase all items from the supplier listed on your Needs Assessment report, but it is usually recommended as the most straightforward option for students.

  • You must purchase ALL items listed in the quote on the needs assessment, including any warranties and insurance. Please note that the manufacturer’s warranty does not cover theft or loss, so insurance will always be required.
  • If you choose to change the laptop which has been recommended, it must be at least equivalent in specification to the one in the quote and be capable of running the software detailed in the quote. Your needs assessor will have included a statement of support for you to upgrade the recommended equipment.
  • If you purchase a higher specification of laptop then you must pay all additional costs. The supplier listed on your needs assessment report can provide a comparable quote on request.
  • If you need to change the recommended software (e.g. from Windows to Mac-compatible software) or upgrade the insurance or warranties to be compatible with another operating system, and this is more expensive, then you must pay the difference.
  • You cannot use money from any other part of the quote to pay for an upgrade apart from the quoted cost of the laptop.
  • If you buy a laptop or any other software or equipment that costs less than quoted, you must return the difference in cost to SAAS with a copy of the receipt for all the DSA-funded purchases.
  • You must provide SAAS with receipts for all items purchased.

Key information

Disability Service

+44 (0) 131 451 3386