Allowance bias against dyslexia

14th January 2005 at 00:00
For some time I have been interested in the activities of the specific learning difficulties group at the Department for Education and Skills. Its remit is to look at the criteria for diagnostic "evidence" for learning difficulties when students apply for disabled student allowances (DSA).

At the moment dyslexia is the only disability where such heavy diagnostic evidence is required for the DSA process. People with other disabilities do not have to "prove" their disability and in my view having to do so means that the Government is guilty of less favourable treatment under the Disability and Discrimination Act.

I have written to the DfES and it has stated that local education authorities have a legal responsibility to ask for such proof and have quoted the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2002 amended in 2004 as evidence of right. I have looked at the said Statutory Instrument and can find no such evidence.

This document lays down eligibility criteria for grants and awards including the DSA but such eligibility is solely in terms of residency.

There is nothing in this document that would sanction LEAs asking for proof of disability. It is my view, then, that people with specific learning difficulties are being discriminated against. Even if it turns out that it is in fact legal, the idea that a plethora of psychometric tests would constitute "evidence" of any such disability is laughable.

If I can get an expert opinion on the legality of this matter and no such proof is forthcoming, then I will make a claim of discrimination against this group under the DDA. What is going on here is immoral and illegal.

Brian McCabe 17 Buckden Court, Huddersfield

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