Assistive Technology Strategy

Executive summary

Technology is increasingly enabling people with disability to perform tasks they could not otherwise do, to perform tasks more easily, and to perform them more safely and securely. It is allowing many people with disability to reach their potential at home, in their community and in the workplace. The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) wants to optimise the opportunities that technological advancement and digital disruption are offering society, putting people with a disability at the forefront of these opportunities.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was founded on a simple goal – to provide all Australians who are born with or acquire a permanent and significant disability before the age of 65 with the necessary supports to live a better life and one of inclusion. Advancements in technology will be crucial as the Agency works towards achieving this goal.

This document represents the NDIA's Assistive Technology (AT) strategy development to this point. As the proposed initiatives in this strategy are developed and the NDIS moves to full roll out in July 2016, the strategy will continue to be refined and updated.

The NDIA's vision in AT is to build an empowering, sustainable and consistent approach to ensuring National Disability Insurance Scheme participants have choice in, and access to, individualised assistive technology solutions that enable and enhance their economic and community participation.

In line with the vision, the document outlines the three strategic priorities for achieving this vision and proposes initiatives to meet each of these strategies:

Strategic Priority 1

Support and stimulate a vibrant and innovative supply-side market by providing a conduit for innovation and promoting the take-up of technology solutions.

Proposed Initiative

The proposed initiative is to establish an innovation hub that: (1) captures information and builds an evidence base around disability needs to stimulate innovation; (2) stimulates the uptake of existing, new and mainstream technologies; and (3) tests and trials new technologies to stimulate industry solution development.

Strategy Priority 2

Support and stimulate informed, active, participant-led demand by empowering participants to choose technology that best supports their needs.

Proposed Initiatives

The proposed initiatives are to (1) investigate and determine the right multichannel national model – online, face-to-face, over the phone – for providing information about assistive technology options to NDIS participants; (2) refine and finalise the participant capacity-building framework – a framework used to determine the capacity of a participant to choose and implement assistive technology; suggest ways to build upon this capacity; and, recommend a level of professional support for selection of assistive technology; and (3) review Agency processes, policies and systems to optimise their support for participant choice and control.

Strategic Priority 3

Deliver a financially robust, sustainable scheme that generates economic and social value with the Agency only intervening to optimise outcomes for participants and economic value for the Scheme.

Proposed Initiatives

The proposed initiatives are to (1) employ an approach to assistive technology sourcing ranging from free market to central sourcing by the Agency; and (2) develop the organisational capability and governance needed to ensure sustainability and value creation.

The proposed initiatives should improve the market development of assistive technology, increase investment into innovative technology that will be of greatest benefit to NDIS participants, improve the knowledge and capacity of NDIS participants to choose the assistive technology that best meets their needs, and help the NDIA with its role in the different product markets of AT, a role ranging from no intervention to central sourcing.

A high-level implementation roadmap and a work plan for each of the proposed initiatives has been developed, along with a comprehensive stakeholder engagement strategy to ensure Scheme participants, suppliers, allied health professionals and others understand the proposed path forward and its rationale.

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