Assistive technologies (AT) are physical aids that can help you do things more easily. They help you gain independence, whether it be at home, out with friends, or in your workplace. Many are available to access through NDIS funding.
AT doesn’t always have to be hugely technical or expensive. In fact, many AT devices are simple and require no set up.
In this article, we explain some of the ways you can benefit from AT, share some types of AT, and talk about how they work with NDIS.
What are the benefits of assistive technology?
AT can help you become more independent through:
AT can include apps that help with communication. These might include voice amplification apps or speech output software.
There are also technologies that help with reading, such as larger computer monitors, adjustments for your glasses and magnifying sheets. Large text books, calendars and watches are also available.
For help with hearing, personal amplification devices are available. You can also get a phone with captioning features or other specialised apps.
AT can also make moving around more comfortable. For example, modified wheelchairs and specialised footwear can greatly improve your mobility. Lightweight scooters are also available to assist with getting around and even playing sports with friends.
If you enjoy driving, assistive technology for your car might include easier-to-use steering wheels or modified brakes. Ramps, lifts and adaptive seatbelts can also be quite helpful.
To help with mobility at home, you might like a specialised recliner or lift chair. Ramps, handrails and stability mats are also common.
Daily life at home
Many types of AT, large and small, can assist you around the house.
Some of the most common AT for daily life are aimed at helping with bathing, grooming, and dressing. These might include reachers, automatic soap dispensers and long-handled shoe horns.
You can also get a bed designed for your needs to make sure you’re always getting a good night’s sleep. Some beds also allow you to adjust the height or recline the mattress to make it easier to get in and out of bed.
Customised cutlery can be helpful for enjoying and even preparing meals. Do you like to cook? If so, there are switch adapted appliances that are easier to use. See the NDIS website for more details on the types of household items that NDIS funds.
How does assistive technology work with NDIS?
NDIS funding for AT is reviewed on a case by case basis. You will need to show that the technology is necessary due to your disability needs and meets NDIS funding criteria. See what NDIS does and does not fund.
Once approved, you are able to use your NDIS funding for AT in a flexible way in order to get the most out of it. Generally speaking, you can use it to rent, own, or buy the AT outright. By using the rent or loan option, you are able to get newer versions of certain technology as it gets updated.
Some of the smaller or less expensive items, known as low cost AT, may fall into the Core Supports part of your NDIS plan support budget. More expensive pieces fall under the Capital Support part of your plan. These items can be covered by the NDIS, as well as any ongoing costs related to the items.
Some technologies might be subject to additional rules for what can be funded, as they may be funded by other government services.
Getting NDIS funding for assistive technology
AT can be an important part of reaching your goals within your NDIS plan.
To organise funding, you will first need to meet with an occupational therapist. They can provide advice, answer your questions, and help organise a quote for the technology. Once you have the quote from the provider, your occupational therapist will help submit it to the NDIS.