assistive technology guide

Our Complete Guide To Assistive Technology

Our Complete Guide To Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is one of the world’s greatest achievements. For anyone living with a disability, recovering from injury, or learning a new skill, assistive technology helps them do it better.

So what are assistive technologies and how do they benefit people living with disabilities?

Here is our complete guide on assistive technology.

What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology, or AT, can be any device, programme, or system that helps you with daily tasks. For example, a wheelchair assists people who are unable to walk. AT is used by people to boost their capabilities – whether that be physically, or mentally. In fact, assistive technology has become so advanced that examples of it are seen in almost every setting, and even help people who are not considered to be living with disabilities.

How assistive technology benefits people living with disabilities

assistive technology benefits for people
Assistive technology helps people living with disabilities in many ways. And sometimes one piece of equipment will help someone do more than one thing. For example, a hearing aid will allow someone to hear better and also learn quicker too. Here are some concrete examples of assistive technology benefiting people with disabilities:
  • Allows for increased mobility and functional capabilities
  • Helps people with low vision see, and improves eyesight
  • Helps people to speak and communicate
  • Assists with cognitive ability, recall, and learning
  • Allows people to carry out daily tasks with greater ease

Different types of assistive technology

types of assistive technology

Assistive technologies cover a broad range of different products that range from low-tech solutions that assist people with basic communication to high-tech software programmes that allow people to learn complex things.

  1. Mobility aids
    Mobility devices are perhaps the most common and visible assistive technologies. They’ve also been around for the longest. Wheelchairs, crutches, scooters, prosthetic devices are some common types of mobility aids, while other more high-tech aids can assist people with disabilities to play sport and remain active.
  2. Cognitive aids
    A cognitive aid helps people understand, learn, and memorise. These can include computer programmes, electrical devices, or memory aids that assist with learning and attention. 
  3. Computer software/hardware
    Computer programmes and hardware allow people to complete daily tasks they wouldn’t other be able to do. These AT’s can include screen and text enlarging assists, voice or facial recognition, captioning, screen readers, and other programmes that allow for easier day-to-day activities such as work, socialisation, or learning.
  4. Hearing aids
    Hearing aids are an important assistive technology, especially given that 1 in 6 Australians suffer from a hearing impairment. Hearing aid technology has become highly advanced and helps people every day with listening and communicating.
  5. Disability infrastructure
    Both in homes and in public, the disability infrastructure is becoming more accessible to those who require it. Ramps, railings, lifts, larger doors, and braille signage are just some of the more common assistive technologies that exist that allow better access to public and private spaces.
  6. Assistive tools and devices
    Along with the tech revolution came a wave of new technologies that help everyday Australians who are living with disabilities get on with their lives in a more comfortable way. Assistive products such as page-turners, adaptive grips, performance-enhancing technology for sports, gaming, cooking, dressing amongst others.

Challenges for assistive technology

Although it has become extremely intuitive and advanced, assistive technology can’t solve everything. There are many challenges still to be overcome. Unfortunately, there are many conditions, disabilities, and injuries where assistive technologies struggle to help. For example, cognitive assists can only help a person so much. There are also major barriers for children and older generations to use the equipment, as well as costs and availability for people who may not be able to afford expensive technology.

What can we expect future assistive technology to look like?

future assistive technology

Future assistive technology is an exciting area of research and development that has huge potential, not just as an industry but in changing the lives of those who rely on it. In the future, we can expect an explosion of new assistive technologies that will only further improve the lives of people living with disabilities. Examples of new assistive technologies are already coming into view with driverless cars, advanced language software, robotic arms and even climbing wheelchairs.

Who funds assistive technologies?

Depending on your situation, and the type of technology, there are government agencies that may be able to fund access to these ATs. If you’re looking for assistive technology to help you with your disability, we recommend you get appropriate advice from a qualified AT assessor.

Does the NDIS cover assistive technology?

It depends. The National Disability Insurance Scheme has certain criteria that apply when including assistive products in your plan. All your NDIS supports must be reasonable and necessary and relate to your disability. They also should represent value for money and be the right assistive technology for you and your situation. The NDIS will fund your AT provided that it meets these criteria and passes a risk assessment based on the type of AT and your disability.

How does the NDIS cost different assistive technologies?

The NDIS breaks down assistive technologies into three categories:
  1. Low cost: $1,500 or under per item
  2. Mid cost: $1,500 – $5,000 per item
  3. High cost: over $5,000 per item
If you’re not sure how AT’s will affect your funding – just reach out to our team here at Onboard Supports. We are more than happy to speak about the finances involved with your NDIS plan and ensure your funds are managed effectively.

How can I get assistive technologies in my NDIS plan?

assistive technologies in my NDIS

If you haven’t received your plan yet, you can mention your need for an AT at your initial planning meeting, or if you already have a plan then you can request a plan review.

If you haven’t signed up for the NDIS yet, and plan to, read our article on how to register for the NDIS.

Get the supports you need most with NDIS plan management

It can get tricky when there are many different elements covered by your funding, so having a plan manager taking care of your finances can be extremely valuable. If you need help navigating your funding or need help with your budgeting – give our NDIS plan management team here at Onboard Supports a call, we’re here to make this easy for you.