Assistive technology explained

Assistive technology explained

Assistive technologies (AT) 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, that assist 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.  

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

For more detailed information on how we define and fund AT, or how to add AT into your plan, please refer to our Assistive Technology Operational Guideline .

Understanding AT product risk

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.

We use 2 product risk categories (‘low’ and ‘higher’) to assess the complexity of your AT needs. 

  • Low risk AT products are:
    • unlikely to cause harm in day-to-day life
    • available for trial and / or can be purchased in retail stores
    • easy to set up and safely use without professional advice.
  • Higher risk AT products may be one or all of the following: 
    • complex, such as a power wheelchair
    • known to have caused harm
    • used for a restrictive practice
    • 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. 

Low, mid and high cost AT

More expensive doesn’t always mean better. We recommend you get advice from an AT assessor to help manage the risk of overspending on unnecessary or inappropriate AT.

It’s best to buy some items. For other items, it might be better to rent or borrow them. This is true if your needs are likely to change.

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 your plan for minor trial or short term rental of AT.
 
The NDIA has different processes for low, mid and high cost AT. You can 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:

  • Low cost assistive technology: under $1,500 per item
  • Mid cost assistive technology: between $1,500 and $5,000 per item
  • High cost assistive technology: over $5,000 per item.

The Assistive technology – Guide for low cost support funding (DOCX 73KB) will help you understand how much funding you may need to buy low cost AT. 

Additional features and other funding sources

You can use your own money or funding from other sources, such as Job Access, to buy additional features or access additional services which may not fall under reasonable and necessary supports in your NDIS plan.

If you require the same or similar AT for multiple purposes and locations you should discuss your needs with your planner, local area coordinator or support coordinator.

AT assessments

We need to understand your AT needs and how they will help you pursue your goals. We’ll need different information from you depending on the cost and risk.

Some equipment or items will need an AT assessor to assess your needs and situation, and identify the most appropriate AT. The assessor may be an allied health practitioner, continence nurse, rehabilitation engineer, AT mentor or other qualified practitioner.

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 we assess risk in:

Choosing an AT provider

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

Unless your plan indicates otherwise, you can choose the providers you want to deliver AT supports included in your plan. 

You are generally able to use your NDIS funds to, either:

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

Further information

Find out more information about:

This page current as of
4 December 2020
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