What supports are there to help my dyslexic son access third level?
Ask Brian: The Dare scheme offers reduced points places to school-leavers with disabilities
The Dare scheme offers reduced points places to school leavers who, as a result of having a disability, have experienced additional educational challenges.
Question: My son is in 6th year and has a diagnosis of dyslexia. He attended the Irish Times Higher Options conference a few weeks ago and spoke to a person at a stand who informed him there had been significant changes in the third-level application process for people with disabilities in the past two years . Can you inform me what they are and how they will impact my son’s application?
Answer: Disability Access Route to Education (Dare) is the third-level alternative admissions scheme for school-leavers whose disabilities have had a negative impact on their second-level education.
Dare offers reduced points places to school-leavers who, as a result of having a disability, have experienced additional educational challenges in second-level education.
It is for school-leavers under the age of 23 as of 1 January 2017 with a disability, who have been educationally impacted as a result of that disability. Applicants to the scheme can present with an Irish Leaving Certificate, A-Levels and/ or other EU qualifications.
So, what types of disability does the scheme apply to? The updated list available online ranges from conditions such as attention deficit disorder / attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to physical disabilities, speech and language communication disorders and specific learning difficulties (including dyslexia & dyscalculia).
Applicants with a specific learning difficulty must submit a psychological assessment report of any age completed by a psychologist, and have two literacy or two numeracy attainment scores. These must be at or below the 10th percentile (standard score of 81 or below).
These attainment scores can be (a) scores from school-based attainment testing and/or (b) scores from attainment tests carried out by a psychologist.
Testing must have been carried out after February 1st, 2015 and all applicants must submit an educational impact statement (EIS) completed by their school.
If you have an existing diagnosis but have difficulty accessing the appropriate professional/consultant to get confirmation of your diagnosis or an updated report, you may ask your GP to complete the “evidence of disability” section of the application.
Your GP may do this if they have a clear diagnosis on file from the appropriate professional and this was received within the given time-frame, if a time limit applies.
A copy of the document in which your diagnosis is confirmed must be included in your application when using this GP verification.
The GP does not need to furnish copies of the entire file – a single document which confirms the applicant’s diagnosis and is within the time limit (if one applies) is sufficient.
For the purposes of the Dare scheme, only diagnoses made by a specialist/consultant are acceptable. Diagnoses made by GPs alone aren’t acceptable. Once you have provided your evidence of disability documentation and educational impact statement, your application will be assessed and an outcome determined (www.accesscollege.ie/dare)
There are a series of important dates to remember for applying. Check out the CAO website (www.cao.ie). Remember that CAO applications should be submitted by the deadline of February 1st, 2017. Additional documentation – such as educational impact statements and evidence of disability documents – have later deadlines.
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