Assistive Technology (AT) can make a HUGE impact for people with disability. However, it can sometimes be a little confusing or overwhelming when it comes to purchasing the AT you need. By understanding how AT works under the NDIS and getting to know our top tips, you'll be able to purchase the AT you need and access the support you need.
AT & the NDIS
Before we dive into the top tips, it’s important to understand what assistive technology (AT) is and how it works with the NDIS.
AT is equipment or devices that help you do things you can’t do or find challenging to do because of your disability. It can help you do things more easily and safely.
The NDIS categorises AT into different categories from risk to cost. When it comes to risk, the NDIS has outlined two categories – low risk and high risk
Low risk items are:
unlikely to cause harm in your day-to-day life
available for a trial or can be purchased from retail stores
easy to set up and use safely without needing professional advice
High risk items are:
more complex to set up or use
known to have caused harm
used for a restrictive practice
in need of professional advice, setup, or training for safe use
Then we have cost. The NDIS outlines three categories of cost – low, mid, and high cost.
Low cost are items under $1,500 per item
Mid cost are items between $1,500 and $15,000 per item
High cost are items over $15,000 per item
Tip #1: Determine if the NDIS will fund it
You probably already know that the NDIS is a big fan of reasonable and necessary, especially when it comes to AT. For the NDIA to fund your AT you need to consider whether it:
relates to your disability needs
helps your individual goals and aspirates
helps you with social and economic participation
is value for money
is effective and beneficial for you
helps to maintain your informal supports
is the responsibility of the NDIS to fund
The NDIS won’t fund anything that could cause harm to you or others, is not related to your disability, has the same benefit as another support already funded, or if it relates to day-to-day living costs such as rent or groceries which the NDIS do not fund.
Tip #2: Consider your product choices
It’s important to ask the right questions when deciding what AT is suitable for your needs. Whether you consider your needs yourself or discuss them with a professional, you should ask the following questions:
What are the features and benefits of the item you are considering?
Where and how will you be using it and are there any potential obstacles?
What is the cost and is it value for money?
Will there be future costs associated i.e., repairs?
If you need repairs, are they easily accessible?
Do you need someone to help you set it up or provide training?
It’s worth noting that the NDIA expect to fund only the minimum specifications of the item to ensure it is value for money. For the purchase of any smart devices, it is recommended to a letter of support. Even with a letter of support, you will still need to fit the very specific NDIS criteria for them to fund a smart device.
Asking yourself or a professional these questions, and any more you can think of, can help you with your AT decision making.
Tip #3: Compare prices
It’s always a good idea to shop around to ensure you’re not only getting the best product for your needs but also the best price. AT prices can vary for the same or similar item and it can be all too easy to just pick the first option you come across. Take your time to do the research and ask for assistance if you need it. If you do need help, be sure to talk with someone you trust whether that’s a family member, friend, an advocate, or another support person.
Tip #4: Find a provider that knows the NDIS
When purchasing AT, it can be beneficial to purchase with a provider that knows the NDIS. They may have information or insights that can help you with your purchase.
There are plenty of companies out there that specialise in this area. One of those companies is Assistive Tech who are a specialist reseller or low-cost AT and augmented and assistive (AAC) devices. They are an online AT company registered with the NDIS. It’s easy to search for your AT needs on their website and make a purchase (if you have funding within your NDIS plan for AT).
One of the questions we get asked a lot is if we can purchase apps or iTunes gift cards for our participants. As plan managers, we are not able to make these purchases for you. However, Assistive Tech, and other companies like it, can make app (and other) purchases for you and send First2Care the invoice. Making purchasing your AT needs simple.
It’s important to know that gift cards are not specific to a disability, so the purchase of them does not fit the NDIS rules and regulations.
Tip #5: Know the differences between self, plan, and agency managed claiming
There are three options when it comes to managing your NDIS plan – self management, agency management and plan management. Each of these options have slightly different regulations for purchasing AT.
If you are self-managed, you can purchase low cost/low risk AT yourself and engage directly with a supplier to make your AT purchase. You can access any AT provider and are not limited to those registered with the NDIS. After making your AT choice, you will need to pay the invoice and submit your claim to the NDIS yourself.
The NDIA can purchase low cost/low risk AT on your behalf however they are limited to AT providers who are registered with the NDIA.
Much like self-management, you have access to any AT provider. However, the key difference is you have your own personal plan manager working with you. We can take care of the low cost/low risk purchasing process for you. This means you won’t have to worry about paying or claiming the invoice, all you need to focus on is you and your new AT.
Read more about the benefits of working with an independent, professional Plan Manager. Alternatively, contact our friendly team on 1300 322 273 or firstname.lastname@example.org.