Identifying your Assistive Technology needs

What is AT? | AT and the NDIS | Finding the right AT solution

Every person living with a disability has different needs. Assistive Technology may be included in your plan if it is identified as a reasonable and necessary support that meets your needs and supports you to achieve better outcomes in life.

What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive Technology (AT), as defined by the World Health Organisation, is 'any device or system that allows individuals to perform tasks they would otherwise be unable to do or increases the ease and safety with which tasks can be performed'.

AT under the NDIS does not include:

  • items for treatment or rehabilitation;
  • public infrastructure that is used by all – for example, ramps, pathways and lifts (however, the NDIS does assist with reasonable and necessary home modifications);
  • mainstream technology that does not overcome a functional limitation, but modifications to this technology could be AT – for example, a car would not be AT but modifications to the car could be AT;
  • something that does not include a device – for example, medicine or training.

AT and the NDIS

Like many technologies, AT ranges from the really simple to the very complex and sometimes you may need help to figure out what is the right AT solution for you.

At the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), we use four levels to describe the complexity of your AT needs. The table below explains the different complexity levels of AT. It can help you to identify, find and purchase the AT you need. 


Complexity Level

Description and Examples

Do I need an assessment?

Where can I buy this AT?

Level 1 – Simple, low-risk AT

Simple, low risk products and services that are easy to buy and need no or very little assistance to set up and use.
Examples:

  • Non-slip bathmat
  • Large print labels
  • Doorbells

Not required:
These are the everyday AT items that you can easily access and test out that don't cost much or require support.

You can choose to buy these from everyday suppliers. Examples:

  • Your local store (hardware, pharmacy etc.); or
  • Suppliers you find on the internet.

Level 2 – Standard AT

AT that you can buy easily “off the shelf”, test and trial before making a final choice. However you might need help to set up.Examples:

  • Bath seat
  • Hand rails
  • Ramp

May be required: Depending on availability and your individual circumstance, you may require an assessment.

You can typically find this type of AT from an AT supplier.

Level 3 – Specialised AT solutions

Similar to Level 2 AT, but requires modification or is tailored to suit your needs.
Examples:

  • Desktop electronic magnification
  • Pressure mattresses

Required: You will require experienced professional support to help identify, buy and set up before you can most effectively use it. 

You will need to work with your AT assessor to identify suitable supplier/s from which you are able to source the most appropriate AT solution for your needs.

Level 4 – Complex AT solutions

Custom made AT which is specially made or configured for you.

  • myoelectric prosthetic
  • cochlear implant speech processors

Required: You will require specialist and/or ongoing support (including specialised training) to identify, buy and use.

You will need to work with your AT assessor to identify suitable supplier/s from which you are able to source the most appropriate AT solution for your needs.

Depending on the risks associated with your disability or the environment where you need to use it, an item of AT may increase in complexity.
Many State/Territory government AT schemes are able to provide the majority of more complex AT products.  AT for people with a sensory disability usually has specialised providers.

For more detailed information and examples, please refer to the NDIS AT Complexity Level Classification document (DOCX 1.4MB)

You should work with your NDIS planner or Local Area Coordinator to identify whether you may require help in selecting and setting up the right AT for you. Appropriate supports would be included in your plan to assist with  selection, setup and training on AT

How to find the right AT solution for you

A number of people and organisations can assist you to find the right AT solution.

An AT assessor is someone who is able to consider a person's needs and situation and identify the most appropriate AT to meet those needs. They may be an AT Mentor, allied health practitioner, continence nurse, registered dietician, psychologist or rehabilitation engineer. The appropriate AT assessor will depend on the type of AT and the complexity of your needs.

AT Mentors are people with a disability, or lived experience of disability, such as a family member/carer, who are certificate trained in assisting in the provision of AT. AT Mentors can usually assist to identify the appropriate solution for lower complexity AT. They may also help the person with disability negotiate more complex AT assessment, purchasing and training.

Finding an AT assessor and/or mentor

Depending on the complexity of the AT, you can search for AT assessors using the myplace participant portal or other registers of providers. In some cases, searching for the AT assessors and mentors on the internet to help you identify Australian advisory services.

The NDIA has also developed a number of resources to assist participants to find and access providers. It is important to choose the provider that is right for you. Make sure you understand your plan and supports and have decided whether you are going to self-manage the budgets in your plan before you start choosing providers.