Assistive technology (AT) items can help you do certain things that you may struggle to do or cannot do more easily and safely, and it may also reduce your need for other supports over time. However, when it comes to the NDIS and obtaining the AT that you need it can sometimes be a little confusing to know what the NDIS will fund, what you need to do before purchasing AT, and most importantly, when to provide reports for AT.
What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology (AT) can range from small things like non-slip mats, or special knives and forks to big things like wheelchairs and powered adjustable beds. It can also cover technology like an app that could help you to communicate with others.
It’s important to note, that 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. AT is only the equipment you need because it helps you do things that you normally can’t do because of your disability.
How does the NDIS fund AT?
The NDIS have certain reasonable and necessary criteria that need to be met to provide funding.
Some of the questions the NDIA consider when you request funding for AT are:
Does the assistive technology relate to your disability?
Is the assistive technology right for you?
Is the assistive technology you need value for money?
Is your assistive technology funded or provided by someone else?
Funding won’t be provided for everyday items or items that don’t relate to your disability.
What to do before you buy AT
Before purchasing AT, it’s important to get advice or an assessment to ensure the item is right for you. Buying the wrong AT without getting advice, can run the risk that the NDIA won’t provide funding for another item. To avoid this, you can seek out a range of qualified and skilled professionals who can provide this information to you.
Assistive technology advisors can be:
Allied health practitioners (e.g., audiologists, occupational therapists, orthoptists, orthotists/prosthetists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, speech pathologists)
Assistive technology mentors with a recognised qualification in assistive technology advice
Orientation and mobility specialists for the vision sector
What to do before buying low-cost AT
When the NDIA fund low-cost, low risk AT, they suggest seeking professional advice before you buy the item to help ensure that you purchase the right item for your needs. Discussing your AT needs with a professional can help you to find AT that is cheaper or works better for you or to discover AT that you hadn’t heard of or considered before.
With low-cost, high-risk AT, the NDIA suggest getting written advice from an assistive technology advisor before you purchase your AT item. This helps to ensure you get the right item for you and that it is safe to use.
What to do before buying mid-cost AT
For mid-cost AT to be approved the NDIA request that you get written advice from an AT assessor before you buy the item. If the item is mid-cost and high-risk, it’s important to also request advice on how to set up and adjust the item safely.
What to do before buying high-cost AT
All high-cost items require a written assessment to receive NDIS funding so that you can purchase the item. This ensures that high cost or complex items are the right choice for you, safe to use and have long-term benefits.
The assessment should indicate any extra support that may be needed for the AT item set up process, any training needed to use the item and how to use the item safely.
What should you do with the advice or assessment?
If you have advice for a low-cost or mid-cost assistive technology item, you can choose whether you share the advice by providing a copy to your plan manager or uploading it to your NDIS myplace portal. If you choose not to share the advice, it’s important to keep a copy somewhere safe, just in case.
However, if you have an assessment and/or a quote for a high-cost assistive technology item, it is important to share this with the NDIA. The NDIA typically need to view and accept a quote for a high-cost item before they provide funding. You can take your assessment and quote to your planning meeting or plan review meeting to be discussed with your LAC or NDIA planner, or you can email it to the NDIA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your NDIS Plan Funding
Although there are no guarantees that the NDIA will provide funding for AT items in your NDIS plan, the best way to help ensure you receive the funding you need is to have evidence that supports your funding requests (like written advice and/or assessments). It's also important to ensure that the funding support you request adheres to the NDIS reasonable and necessary criteria.
If you feel the NDIA have made an error with the funding allocated to your NDIS plan, you can request that your plan be reviewed. This process can sometimes be lengthy, so if this is something you would like to do, be sure to discuss this with your Support Coordinator, your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or a disability advocate.
Read more about the benefits of working with an independent, professional Plan Manager. Alternatively, contact our friendly team on 1300 322 273 or email@example.com.