Source:  https://www.ndis.gov.au/participants/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.

Source:  https://ourguidelines.ndis.gov.au/supports-you-can-access-menu/equipment-and-technology/assistive-technology/what-do-we-mean-assistive-technology

The World Health Organisation has a universal definition of assistive technology .

In our terms, assistive technology includes items that help you do things you can’t do because of your disability. Or, things that help you do something more easily or safely.

This includes items like non-slip mats, or special knives and forks. It includes items like wheelchairs and power beds too.

It can also include things like an app to help you speak to other people if you have a speech impairment.

Not all equipment or technology you use is assistive technology. Many people use some equipment as part of their lives. For example, a radio to listen to music, or a standard microwave oven to cook food. Assistive technology is only the equipment you need because it helps you do things that you normally can’t do because of your disability.

What does assistive technology include?

  • items that reduce the need for assistance
  • items which make assistance safe or easy
  • items that help maintain functioning
  • items that allow you to complete tasks independently
  • items that are personalised for you

 

What does assistive technology under the NDIS not include?

  • technology everyone in a home uses that isn’t related to your disability, like a standard kettle to boil water
  • items for treatment or rehabilitation
  • changes to public spaces, like a footpath
  • changes to public vehicles, such as buses or taxis
  • assessment or therapy tools used by therapists

 

This operational guideline explains how we make decisions about assistive technology. Assistive technology explained has general information on assistive technology.

Source:  https://ourguidelines.ndis.gov.au/supports-you-can-access-menu/equipment-and-technology/assistive-technology/what-assistive-technology-do-we-fund

All NDIS supports must meet the reasonable and necessary criteria.

Ask yourself some questions to help you think about whether we’ll consider funding what you need:

Does the assistive technology relate to your disability?

Your assistive technology must relate to your disability. It should help you with different activities, or something you can’t do now.  Or, assistive technology may help reduce your fatigue or the need for human assistance. Ultimately, we won’t fund a support if it’s not related to your disability. 

We don’t fund general items that we all need whether or not we have a disability.

This includes things like general household furniture.

But we might fund the extra cost of adapting general items for your disability.

Example

Both Salim and Jane cannot sit in a standard chair. This is because they won’t be able to get back up due to their disability.

We all have to buy furniture for our home. But they need to pay more to adapt the chair, or for a specialised chair.

Salim’s occupational therapist says he could use low-cost chair raiser blocks to raise the height of the chair. Salim buys a standard chair with his own money. But his NDIS plan could include funding for the chair raiser blocks if they meet all the criteria for funding.

Jane’s occupational therapist says low-cost options won’t work for her. She needs a sit-stand recliner chair to avoid falls and stand up slowly without help from someone else. Her NDIS plan could include funding for the sit-stand recliner chair if it meets all the criteria for funding.

Source:  https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/assistive-technology

Key facts

  • Assistive technology is an umbrella term covering the systems and services related to the delivery of assistive products and services.
  • Assistive products maintain or improve an individual’s functioning and independence, thereby promoting their well-being.
  • Hearing aids, wheelchairs, communication aids, spectacles, prostheses, pill organizers and memory aids are all examples of assistive products.
  • Globally, more than 1 billion people need 1 or more assistive products.
  • With an ageing global population and a rise in noncommunicable diseases, more than 2 billion people will need at least 1 assistive product by 2030, with many older people needing 2 or more.
  • Today, only 1 in 10 people in need have access to assistive products.

 

Assistive technology enables people to live healthy, productive, independent, and dignified lives, and to participate in education, the labour market and civic life. Assistive technology reduces the need for formal health and support services, long-term care and the work of caregivers. Without assistive technology, people are often excluded, isolated, and locked into poverty, thereby increasing the impact of disease and disability on a person, their family, and society.

Today, only 1 in 10 people in need have access to assistive technology due to high costs and a lack of awareness, availability, trained personnel, policy, and financing.

 

Who can benefit from assistive technology?

People who most need assistive technology include:

  • people with disabilities
  • older people
  • people with noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and stroke
  • people with mental health conditions including dementia and autism
  • people with gradual functional decline.

 

Health, well-being and socioeconomic benefits

Assistive technology can have a positive impact on the health and well-being of a person and their family, as well as broader socioeconomic benefits. For example:

  • Proper use of hearing aids by young children leads to improved language skills, without which a person with hearing loss has severely limited opportunities for education and employment (1).
  • Manual wheelchairs increase access to education and employment while reducing healthcare costs due to a reduction in the risk of pressure sores and contractures.
  • Assistive technology can enable older people to continue to live at home and delay or prevent the need for long-term care (2).
  • Therapeutic footwear for diabetes reduces the incidence of foot ulcers, preventing lower limb amputations and the associated burden on health systems (3).