Assistive technology, often abbreviated as AT, serves as a beacon of empowerment for individuals with disabilities. These remarkable tools and devices are designed to bridge the gap between ability and aspiration, enabling users to accomplish tasks that might have seemed insurmountable. This guide delves into the intricacies of assistive technology, providing valuable insights into its categories, funding, risk assessment, and much more.

Deciphering Assistive Technology

At its core, assistive technology comprises equipment and devices engineered to surmount the challenges posed by disabilities. Whether it’s aiding in tasks that were once unachievable or enhancing the ease and safety of activities, AT is a transformative force. It’s imperative to note that all supports provided under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) must meet the reasonable and necessary criteria. However, it’s crucial to recognise that AT items that fall within the domain of other government services are ineligible for NDIS funding.

For an in-depth understanding of how AT is defined and funded, as well as the process of incorporating it into your plan, refer to the NDIS’s official guideline on Assistive Technology.

Navigating AT Product Risk

The spectrum of assistive technology spans from simple products to intricate systems. To ensure that you’re selecting the right AT solution for your needs, seeking guidance from an AT advisor is highly recommended. If the AT you’re considering falls into the category of higher risk AT, the NDIS mandates that you seek AT advice before procuring it.

To assess the complexity of AT needs, a two-tiered product risk classification is employed: ‘low’ and ‘higher’ risk. Low-risk AT products are those that are unlikely to cause harm during daily activities, are available for trial or purchase in retail settings, and can be set up and used safely without professional guidance. On the other hand, higher risk AT products encompass complex items like power wheelchairs, items known to have caused harm, devices used for restrictive practices, and those necessitating professional advice, setup, or training for safe usage.

For a comprehensive breakdown of the risk levels associated with various AT products, consult the Assistive Technology Product Risk Table. This resource aids in determining the appropriate level of advice and support needed when selecting AT items.

Unveiling Cost Categories

To ensure you’re making informed decisions regarding AT procurement, seeking advice from an AT assessor is advisable. The suitability of purchasing, renting, or borrowing AT items depends on your evolving needs.

The NDIS employs distinct processes for low, mid, and high-cost AT items, with specific budget allocations for each category:

  1. Low Cost Assistive Technology: Items costing under $1,500 per unit.
  2. Mid Cost Assistive Technology: Items ranging between $1,500 and $15,000 per unit.
  3. High Cost Assistive Technology: Items exceeding $15,000 per unit.

Resources like the “Assistive Technology – Guide for Minor Trial and Rental Funding” elaborate on funding considerations for minor trial or short-term rental of AT items, including trial-to-buy options.

Mid Cost AT Clarifications

For AT items valued below $15,000, formal quotes aren’t required, but evidence and cost estimates are necessary to ensure appropriate selection. AT items exceeding $15,000 necessitate quotes from providers. Detailed guidelines can be found on the NDIS website “Our Guideline – Assistive Technology.”

Leveraging Additional Features and Funding Sources

Beyond NDIS funding, exploring alternative sources such as Job Access or personal finances can facilitate the acquisition of supplementary features or services that may not align with reasonable and necessary supports in your NDIS plan. If identical or similar AT is needed across multiple scenarios, engaging with planners, local area coordinators, or support coordinators is recommended.

The Art of Evidence and Assessment

To streamline the process of obtaining AT support, it’s crucial to provide the right evidence and undergo appropriate assessments. AT needs and the proposed solutions must be well-documented. Depending on the cost and risk factors, assessments by qualified AT advisors are essential. A range of professionals, including allied health practitioners, rehabilitation engineers, and AT mentors, can offer invaluable insights.

For AT costing over $15,000, a professional assessment and quote are required. In your plan, an allocation of at least $500 for advice from an independent advisor is included. Comprehensive information on assessments, risk evaluation, and the approval process for AT can be found in the official documents provided by the NDIS.

Empowering Your Choice of AT Providers

The NDIS champions participant choice in managing their funded supports. Selecting providers to deliver AT supports included in your plan is within your control. Whether outright purchasing, renting, or accessing AT through different arrangements, understanding your plan and supports is paramount before finalising your choice.

Navigating the Future with AT

Assistive technology is more than just equipment; it’s a gateway to independence and empowerment. By understanding its nuances, seeking the right advice, and effectively utilising available resources, you can harness the potential of AT to shape a future that transcends limitations.