Screening and formal assessment for specific learning difficulties (SpLDs) such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia

On this page you will find information regarding:

Screening for SpLDs

If you think you might be dyslexic, dyspraxic, dyscalculic and/or have attention and concentration difficulties you may wish to use a screening tool to explore your strengths and weaknesses. Using an online screening tool will give you flexibility and choice in terms of when, where and how you do this.

The University can neither recommend nor endorse any particular screening tool or provider but examples of online screening tools can be found at:

Please note: The full, personalised Dyslexia+ Student Profiler screening report can provide detailed information about your strengths and areas of challenge, together with practical guidance and links to effective learning resources, which may inform your decision whether to proceed with a full diagnostic assessment.

This screening tool includes attention and concentration difficulties. If you receive an ’at risk’ outcome in this area, you may wish to consult your GP or an appropriately qualified and experienced educational psychologist (EP) regarding an assessment for AD/HD. Whilst some EPs can identify AD/HD (seek advice from the British Psychological Society), they are not qualified to prescribe medication. You may therefore choose to share your report with your GP. Not all GPs are qualified to prescribe AD/HD medication, however, so please seek clarification.

Other SpLD screening tests include:

Payment for screening is your responsibility – please follow the guidance offered by the provider.

Screening results do not provide suitable evidence for applying for reasonable adjustments such as extra time in exams at the University of Birmingham. A formal assessment with a clear diagnosis of a SpLD such as dyslexia is required before adjustments can be made.

It is your decision whether to proceed with a full diagnostic assessment with an appropriately qualified specialist, such as an educational psychologist or specialist teacher assessor.

Formal diagnostic assessments

A formal assessment could help you answer what may be a long-held question about whether you have a specific learning difficulty. A full diagnostic assessment report may provide evidence for reasonable adjustments such as exam arrangements (e.g. extra reading /writing time) at the University. It may also support a Disabled Student’s Allowances (DSAs) application (for home students).

All assessment reports must be available in English. The University cannot accept reports written in other languages and we are unable to provide a translation service.

Arranging a full diagnostic assessment

Students who decide to have a full diagnostic assessment are responsible for arranging and paying for it.

The University is unable to recommend or endorse any particular assessment provider but organisations that may be able to assist include:

Costs may vary and not all assessors can investigate the full range of SpLDs (e.g. dyspraxia and dyscalculia). Please ensure that the assessor is experienced in identifying the SpLD(s) you want them to consider.

The assessor must be qualified to complete a full diagnostic assessment (suitable for higher education and DSA purposes (for UK students) and hold a current Assessment Practising Certificate (APC) or Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) certificate.

For more information on the criteria to be met in the report please review our Accessing Support (PDF - 353KB) guidelines.

Visual Stress

'Visual stress is a sensory condition, in which the visual system appears to be hypersensitive to high contrast regular patterns, including lines of black text against a white background. Alternative names for this are pattern glare and pattern-related visual stress. It is also sometimes, inappropriately, called ‘Irlen Syndrome’ or ‘scotopic sensitivity’' (SASC 2018, p. 17).

The alleviation of pattern glare visual stress typically involves the use of colour in the form of transparent coloured overlays placed over reading material, or lenses worn in spectacle frames. The precise colour appears to be specific to the individual. 

'Visual stress is distinct from, although it sometimes co-occurs with, dyslexia' (Evans and Allen 2016, p. 205).

What to do after the assessment

Please make an application with our Student Disability Service and upload a copy of your diagnostic assessment report. We will then contact you to discuss your support needs.

Please be aware that the deadline for applications for reasonable adjustments for the January exam period is Monday 25 October 2021. We will continue to process your application for disability related support after this date, but if you have support requirements that need to be considered for upcoming exams you will need to talk to your Wellbeing Officer about the University's extenuating circumstances procedure.

Financial assistance towards a formal assessment following online screening

If you have a household income of less than £36,000 and are unable to pay for the assessment yourself, you may be able to obtain up to £325 of financial assistance towards the cost of a full educational psychologist’s or specialist teacher’s assessment for specific learning difficulties.

Please note that that funding is not available for updating any previous SpLD documentation e.g. Form 8 or pre-16 diagnostic report.

In order to be considered for funding, complete the financial support form and attach a copy of the outcome of your initial screening, which must show you are either ‘borderline’ or ‘at risk’.

The University will use your screening results solely for the purpose of determining eligibility for funding. We will make no representation as to the accuracy or otherwise of the results themselves.

It takes around two weeks to verify the information and reach a decision about the funding. 

The maximum we can award is £325. The full cost of the assessment may be more than this. If your application for financial support is successful, you will need to fund any additional costs.

An email regarding the decision will be sent to your University email account, with any award being paid directly into your bank account.

If you do not qualify for financial assistance, it is your responsibility to pay the whole cost of the full diagnostic assessment. Assessments may cost between £300 and £600.

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