This needs assessment was the first time that I have experienced an assessment related to my disability and it’s need for me to get the support I require to make the most of my time at university to achieve the best grade that I can. As far as first experience’s go I was rather nervous, not really knowing what to expect. However half an hour into the assessment all that anxiety and worry just dissipated as the assessor I had was really patient, listened attentively to what I wanted to say and was sympathetic to the difficulties I may face regarding my studies especially the one’s I faced during my first year at university; alongside the appropriate recommendations and demonstrations of pieces of software and thoroughly explaining everything in a way that gave me adequate time to process the information given to me so that I could make informed decisions. The whole process was allowed more than sufficient time to fully detail an extensive report that would ensure I’d get the support of the recommended equipment and mentoring I’d need. It was altogether a really positive experience that made feel like things are moving forward in the right direction and the assessor I had was more than willing to answer any queries by email if I had forgotten to mention anything in the assessment (which I had done). All in all a fantastic service, whose sole focus is the wellbeing of the students to the extent that they’ll be contacting me about 3 months or so away from my assessment date to ensure that things are going well.
Will Johanson (Ref: 3899)
I'd just really like to thank Iona and my assessor for making the DSA process not only really simple but just by being really understanding, helpful and attentive it's really made me feel reassured that the necessary support is tailored well to me and allowed me the time to focus on uni whilst the application went through. I felt and still feel in really good hands and am massively grateful again for their support. The assessor was brilliant and the ease of the process has made me feel positive not only about the support we've put in place (including mentoring, equipment and learning software), but also about academic life over the rest of my degree.
Robert Fletcher-Jones (Ref: 3862)
The entire assessment process was unlike any I have experienced prior. Throughout my journey through disability; both dealing with and trying to rebuild my life – I have encountered a number of “assessments”. Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), and various others for differing things but those two are important to note. The idea of being disabled is something only the person and their immediate family can fully understand. It is not a case of being unable to walk up stairs because your back hurts, no. It is the removal of what you and everyone else can do and then being left with the responsibility to find your own way to continue living. Anyone who has gone through the aforementioned will know that there is no support or independence in either; both can feel smothering, restricting, and like you must stay in a clearly defined box or else face losing months of work. My assessor was an individual that not only reminded me that The Department of Work and Pension’s way of doing things was not how all assessments are carried out. But, also that it is possible to find a trained, qualified, and caring individual that is interested in hearing what you have to say, the difficulties you face, and how they can help. Help is the keyword as individuals that face a life of disability will require help, it doesn’t have to be in the form of funding or benefits. It can be as simple as feeling like what you are saying is being heard. Some people lose their voices when faced with a life of disability, they lose their smile, and they lose their ability to look to the future with hope – and this is an aspect of disability that no one talks about. The IONA Institute supplied me with only the highest quality of service. Whether it was organising the most comfortable way in which for me to communicate with them, which is via e-mail as talking over the phone is very difficult for me, or the most comfortable place for me to be assessed which for me was at home. Throughout the process I was given a choice which was refreshing rather than feeling dread at a place, time, and date I *had* to be at or else. I truly believe that this assessment process is how it should be done and I think it essential for individuals to know that care, compassion, and understanding are not just buzzwords used to make people on the outside think they are doing a good job. These are actual things I have experienced both in my dealings with IONA and the assessor. Finally, I want to say that the assessor was a wonderful individual to spend time with. At no point was there ever a feeling or resentment at having to do a home visit, or like there was a time limit on how long it would take for me to fully convey my issues. I was listened to. I was heard and it is because of that I can confidently say that I am glad to have been assessed by IONA and particularly by the assessor.
My assessor has consistently gone above and beyond. I had repeated problems with DSA-imposed delays and missed deadlines, and at every point the assessors intervened on my behalf to ensure everything was organised and in place as rapidly as possible.
The report the assessor wrote was incredibly thorough and in-depth, and meant that all the equipment recommended was approved - I have no doubt that this was due to all the work they put into my report.
Even after my assessment when I've had teething problems with the technology, the assessor has consistently provided support and researched alternatives.
I cannot compliment Them more highly, and I recommend them to everyone."
Darren Duffield (Ref: 3250)
I would definitely recommend IONA for a DSA assessment. The process from beginning to end was fast and efficient. I filled in my details on the website and was then contacted by the office to go through my details and book me with a suitable assessor. A range of appointments was offered and I was able to choose one on a Saturday which was ideal. I was also prompted by a text reminder to submit the further information required. The Canterbury centre is up on the University of Kent's campus and is well served by buses and there is a car park in front of the building too. As it was a Saturday, the assessor had texted me to let me know that there was no reception staff and that I should call him on my arrival. The 'assessment' itself was very thorough and it was extremely helpful that the assessor himself was familiar with online distance learning. I felt that I was able to get across the issues that my disability can lead to and I had confidence that the assessor understood them. All-in-all it was a very positive experience.