What is Assistive Technology and how do I get it on the NDIS?

For many participants, when they get their National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding plans, it includes provision for “Assistive Technology” (AT) – but what is it and how does it help?

Put simply, AT are products, equipment, and systems that enhance learning, working, and daily living for people living with a disability.

ATs are physical supports that help you:

  • Do something more easily or safely
  • Do something you otherwise cannot do because of your disability.

Examples of AT can include:

  • An app to help you speak to another person if you have a speech impairment
  • Non-slip mats, that assist you to move around your home safely
  • Special forks,to help you to eat
  • Higher risk AT items, such as wheelchairs and adjustable beds.

AT may be included in your NDIS plan if:

  • It meets the reasonable and necessary criteria
  • It meets your needs
  • It helps you to pursue your goals

The NDIS can’t fund AT items that are more appropriately-funded by other government services.

For more detailed information on how the NDIS defines and funds AT, or how to add AT into your plan, read the Assistive Technology Operational guideline.

AT ranges from the simple to the complex. You may need the help of an AT assessor to determine the right AT solution for your needs.

The NDIS uses two product risk categories – low and higher – to assess the complexity of your AT needs.

Low risk AT products are:

  1. Unlikely to cause harm in day-to-day life
  2. Available for trial and / or can be purchased in retail stores
  3. Easy to set up and safely use without professional advice

Higher risk AT products may be one or all of the following:

  1. Complex, such as a power wheelchair
  2. Known to have caused harm
  3. Used for a restrictive practice
  4. Require professional advice, setup or training for safe use

Refer to the Assistive technology product risk table for a detailed explanation of different risk levels of AT that will help you identify, find and access the AT you need.

The NDIS recommends participants get advice from an AT assessor to make sure they get AT that’s right for them, remembering their needs are likely to change, so it might be best to borrow an item first to try it before ordering and paying with your funds.

The assessor may be an allied health practitioner, continence nurse, rehabilitation engineer, AT mentor or other qualified practitioner.

The Assistive technology – Guide for minor trial and rental funding (DOCX 65KB) has more information about how the NDIS works out the funding to include in plans for minor trial or short term rental of AT.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has different processes for low, mid and high cost AT. Learn more about the categories and which part of your budget the funding sits in the How do we consider the cost of the assistive technology section of the guideline:

The Assistive technology – Guide for low cost support funding (DOCX 71KB) will help you understand how much funding you may need to buy low cost AT.

It is important to remember, the NDIS needs to understand how these ATs will help participants pursue their goals and will need as much information from you depending on the cost and risk.

If you have AT in your plan, you will also have at least $500 included in your Capacity Building Improved Daily Living – Budget to seek advice from an independent advisor about your AT requirements.

You can learn more about AT assessments and how the NDIS assess risk in:

NDIS participants can choose how they want to manage the funded supports in their plan.

Unless plans indicate otherwise, participants can choose the providers they want to deliver AT supports included in their plans.

Participants are generally able to use their NDIS funds to, either:

Make sure you understand your plan and supports before choosing providers.

Find out more information about:

Some common examples of assistive technologies include:

  • Mobility aids, such as wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes, crutches, prosthetic devices, and orthotic devices.
  • Hearing aids to help people hear or hear more clearly.
  • Cognitive aids, including computer or electrical assistive devices, to help people with memory, attention, or other challenges in their thinking skills.
  • Computer software and hardware, such as voice recognition programs, screen readers, and screen enlargement applications, to help people with mobility and sensory impairments use computers and mobile devices.
  • Tools such as automatic page turners, book holders, and adapted pencil grips to help learners with disabilities participate in educational activities.
  • Closed captioning to allow people with hearing problems to watch movies, television programs, and other digital media.
  • Physical modifications in the built environment, including ramps, grab bars, and wider doorways to enable access to buildings, businesses, and workplaces.
  • Lightweight, high-performance mobility devices that enable persons with disabilities to play sports and be physically active.
  • Adaptive switches and utensils to allow those with limited motor skills to eat, play games, and accomplish other activities.
  • Devices and features of devices to help perform tasks such as cooking, dressing, and grooming; specialized handles and grips, devices that extend reach, and lights on telephones and doorbells are a few examples.

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