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The Basics of Assistive Technology (AT) for Participants

The World Health Organisation’s definition for assistive technology 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”. The NDIS adopts the same definition but clearly stipulates that it does not include the flowing:

  • Publicly accessible built environment features such as: lifts, pathways and ramps
  • Elements for treatment or rehabilitation
  • Technology that does not overcome a functional limitation such as a car

 

Who Qualifies for Assistive Technology Support?

As a general rule, a participant who requires assistance, in the form of technology, to overcome barriers is eligible to apply for Assistive Technology funding in their NDIS plan. More specifically, the NDIA requires that participants who wish to receive funding for Assistive Technology, be assessed by filling out an assessment form with the oversight of a suitable and experienced AT assessor. It is important to note that this is only required for AT of complexity levels 2 to 4. So, what do we mean by ‘AT complexity level’? Well, this is just a criterion for classifying different types of Assistive Technology supports based on their sophistication.

These NDIS classifies AT supports in four distinct groups as follows:

Level 1 (Basic)

These can be identified and sourced by the participants themselves without oversight since they are low-cost and low-risk. Items in this category include: doorbells and nonslip bathmats.

Level 2 (Standard)

These supports often require some kind of tests and trials by participants before they are able to make a final decision. Items in this category include: ramps, hand rails and bath seats.

Level 3 (Specialised)

These supports are similar to those in Level 2 with the exception that they can be modified to meet the needs of the participant. Items in this category include: pressure mattresses and various home modifications.

Level 4 (Complex)

These supports are highly configured or custom made to address the unique concerns of a participant. Items in this category include: power wheelchairs, sophisticated home modifications with major structural adjustments.

Who qualifies as an AT assessor? They may be any one of the following:

  • An allied health practitioner
  • Rehabilitation engineer
  • Registered dietician
  • AT Mentor
  • Psychologist
  • Continence nurse

An AT Mentor is often another person living with a disability or experienced it at some point. They are trained and certified in providing AT assessment. Although most AT Mentors provide assistance with AT of lower technology, they can provide assessment for more complex AT under certain circumstances.

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