UK Enterprise 2020

26 | UK Enterprise Awards 2020 Everyone deserves the chance to learn in a way that is personal to them and can truly bring out the best of what they have to offer, regardless of their learning or cognitive ability. In 2013, co-founders Matthew Heathman and Caroline Fillery came together to form WSDAC Limited, and set about creating a more positive and supportive environment for students with disabilities or diverse neurological conditions that impact learning. We learn more about the firm to find out what it offers for students of all abilities. Most Trusted Learning Needs Assessments Provider of the Year 2020 Jun20415 WSDAC Limited was first founded back in 2013, thanks to the efforts of co-founders Matthew Heathman and Caroline Fillery. Together, the pair drew on their own personal experiences of neurodiversity before creating what would become one of the most positive and supportive environments for students living with disabilities and various different neurological conditions. In essence, what WSDAC Limited does is help to manage Student Disability Assessment Centres for students who have been approved for Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSAs). DSAs are grants to help students with the extra course costs they might face as a result of a disability, mental health condition, or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia. The way in which WSDAC helps its clients primarily is by providing Study Needs Assessments to enable students to achieve their academic goals with the aid of their Student Disability Allowance. Each member of the WSDAC team is dedicated, experienced, passionate, committed, and wholly professional in carrying out the assessment services from start to finish. Together, the team work hard to deliver only the highest quality assessments that encompass all student needs within a friendly and relaxed environment. Every assessment is aimed at empowering the student to access specialist equipment and support, so that they in turn can maximise their potential throughout their studies and beyond. One of the key areas of expertise that WSDAC specialises in is supporting people with disabilities, diverse neurological conditions, and long-term medical conditions. Any number of conditions can seriously impact on a person’s ability to learn in meaningful ways. However, WSDAC does not settle for things as they are. As well as providing first class specialists advice and support in this area, the firm also uses its focus and experience here as a lens through which it address exclusion, and also promote inclusion more generally. This approach has allowed WSDAC to grow, forming relationships with universities and other support providers whilst always putting the students’ needs first. It is a real privilege to do the work that WSDAC does, and it makes a tremendous difference to a student’s wellbeing in ensuring that barriers to learning are broken down. All learners have the chance to succeed, especially thanks to WSDAC’s continual adaptation to new methods of teaching, learning, and living. Everything is done in pursuit of the same goal of creating positive change for all students. Increasing access to education and learning support has always been a priority, and it is fantastic to see that so much has been achieved in the seven years since WSDAC launched. Delivering outstanding learning support opportunities and development is important for everyone, whether or not they know it. One in five people will be affected by a disability at some point in their lives, with between 25% and 40% of people with learning disabilities also experiencing mental health problems. These disabilities and long-term medical conditions mean that people can be presented with a myriad of potential challenges in engaging with everyday life, and this carries across to the workplace. With the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the past few months have been tough everywhere, and WSDAC is doing everything it can to support its customers at this challenging time. The firm remains wholly dedicated to ensuring students receive its usual friendly and responsive service. COVID-19 has had a major impact on every aspect of a student’s life, and the world is moving into a time when students are busy adapting to new methods of teaching, learning, living, and accessing support for the years ahead. However, increased isolation from classes and tutors is like to have also had a range of different effects on individuals with different patterns of strengths and weaknesses. Making information accessible is crucial for students with a wide range of disabilities. Neurodivergent students also report heightened anxiety levels associated with lockdown, compounded by reduced access to care, help, or facilities, and having to organise space and time for their own study. These initial insights from WSDAC and others indicate a need for further in-depth understanding of the real impact of the change on students’ self-concept and self-efficacy as learners. Arguably, the greatest and most valuable asset that WSDAC has to offer is its team of experienced, passionate, committed, and professional staff. These friendly faces bring a wealth of knowledge and skills to the work that WSDAC does, and it represents the fuel that drives the engine of the business. It is the staff that also drive forward where the business is heading next. Co-founders Matthew and Caroline have also focused their own efforts on creating another new firm, Support Connect, which has been born out of WSDAC and is founded on neurodiversity. The firm’s new