Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

You are here Current Student > Needs Assessment Process

Needs Assessment Process

After the student has registered online with the Disability Service, they have a needs assessment. Based on appropriate evidence of a disability and information obtained from the student on the impact of their disability and their academic course requirements, the Disability Staff member will identify supports designed to meet the student’s disability support needs. Following the Needs Assessment, the student’s Disability Officer prepares an Individual Learning Educational Needs Summary (LENS) detailing the Reasonable Accommodations to be implemented. The information outlined in the LENS is communicated to the relevant School via the student record in SITS.

For more on the Reasonable Accommodations decision-making process, please click here.

What is a Needs Assessment?

Individual needs assessments determine the level of support that students require. Based on appropriate evidence of a disability and information obtained from the student on the impact of their disability and their academic course requirements, the Disability Staff member will identify supports designed to meet the student's disability support needs.

The following areas are addressed:

  1. Nature of disability or condition, to include: impact on education, severity, hospital admissions etc.;
  2. Treatment: any medication they are taking, outpatients' appointments, physiotherapy;
  3. Previous support: what arrangements were made at secondary school, if any;
  4. Current difficulties: what difficulties does the student anticipate they may have with their course;
  5. Access to equipment and IT facilities;
  6. Appropriate academic and disability support. These might include, for example, accessible class venues, in-course support, examination support arrangements, and extended library loans.

if they are eligible for these supports.

Fund for Students with Disabilities – FSD/Trinity funding

The Needs Assessment process also helps determine whether or not the student is eligible for additional disability support through relevant disability funding such as the HEA ESF Fund for Students with Disabilities for specialist disability support, assistive technology, and/or transport. 

The purpose of the Fund for Students with disabilities - FSD is to provide resources to further and higher education institutions for the delivery of key services and supports for learners with disabilities on full time courses. The Fund aims to support the personal, educational and professional development of the participating learner and contribute to the achievement of their full potential.

ESF logo

Who is eligible for support under the Fund?

To be eligible for support under the Fund for Students with Disabilities, a learner must meet the conditions detailed within the FSD Guidelines:

  • have a verifiable disability – please refer to Part D of the guidelines
  • meet the nationality and residency criteria as outlined in Appendix 2 of the guidelines.
  • be a participant on a full-time or part-time course as outlined in Appendix 3 of the guidelines.
  • Have a verified need for specific supports to enable attendance on their chosen course.

Eligible expenditure

Funding can be used to provide supports and accommodations in any of the following categories:

    1. Assistive technology equipment and software;
    2. Non-Medical Helpers (e.g. Personal assistance in academic hours, Occupational Therapy support)
    3. Academic/learning support
    4. Deaf supports (Sign Language Interpreters, SpeedText)
    5. Transport support
    6. In 2018 supports provided on a pilot basis to include learners on part-time courses

Institutions are required to comply with European and national procurement guidelines when procuring services or accommodations in relation to the FSD. Please note if you are not eligible for FSD and you have a disability support that requires funding this will be met by Trinity disability funding.

Ineligible expenditure

The Fund does not cover expenditure on any of the following:

  • assessment or diagnosis of a disability;
  • any medical equipment, assistance or support;
  • services that can reasonably be expected to be provided by the institution (e.g. counselling service) or by another agency (e.g. local Health Service);
  • course-related equipment, materials or software (i.e. applicable to all students on the course);
  • support or assistance provided outside the academic year, or periods during the academic year when the college is closed
  • Subsistence, mileage and accommodation costs for personal assistants, note-takers, speed-text operators or ISL interpreters;
  • staff training and development; and policy work or research.

Full details of the Fund for Students with disabilities can be found here.

Disclosure of Need

The initial decision around disclosure rests with the individual. Where a student discloses to the college, they should be advised per the provisions of the Data Protection Acts 2003- 2018, as to any relevant third-party dissemination and should be requested to expressly consent or dissent to same in writing.

Assessment of Need in Trinity

Prior to requesting supports and services, institutions must complete and document an Assessment of Need in collaboration with the student. The assessment of need document in Trinity is called the LENS, must be completed for each student included in the FSD Return and should be maintained by the institution for verification and audit by the HEA.

The Assessment of Need, the LENS is the source document that determines the supports and accommodations that will be requested on the student’s behalf. Students’ participation in the assessment process is essential. It should be noted however that the document is a college document and the college is ultimately responsible for decisions on the most appropriate support plan to meet the needs of the student.

Forms can be designed to protect the students’ identity by using only a number or code during the process of evaluating applications. All information provided by applicants must be held in compliance with data protection legislation. In addition, supporting documentation must be retained in compliance with ESF retention of records and audit trail guidelines.

Students are asked to complete an application for reasonable accommodation and confirm their supports by approving their LENS. Where there is a funded support identified as part of the needs assessment process, an application for funding is made to the Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD).  Trinity Disability Service make a  declaration on completion of the FSD application which includes the wording

Students are given the following information on release of the LENS for their approval by an in-tray message to their TVD in-tray:


Dear Student,
Your Learning Educational Needs Summary (LENS) report is now ready for approval.  { has asked you to review and approve this document .Please review the report and use the action option to approve or query your LENS report.

Please note Trinity Disability Service have completed a needs assessment and some of the supports outlined in the LENS report may require financial assistance from the Fund for students with disabilities – FSD/Trinity funding. On your approval of the LENS, you confirm that all the information provided is true, complete and accurate and that assistance from other sources has not been received for the stated purpose/service which is the subject of this application. More information on the Additional disability funding can be found here


Disability Service

Compliance with Data Protection Requirements

Applicants should also be informed of the Data Protection implications of providing their personal data. They should be informed that –:

  • personal data collected as part of the application process may be processed for the purposes of coordinating, monitoring and evaluating the operation of the Fund and to comply with European Union requirements,
  • this personal data may include personally sensitive data where they choose to share that data, and
  • their data may be shared with third parties for monitoring and reporting on European Social Fund co-financed activities.

What is a LENS?

Following the Needs Assessment, the student’s Disability Officer prepares an Individual Learning Educational Needs Summary (LENS) detailing the Reasonable Accommodations to be implemented. The information outlined in the LENS is communicated to the relevant School via the student record in SITS.

LENS reports include the following information:



For more information on the types of supports available, please click on the links below.