What Exactly is Assistive Technology?

2 February, 2023

Written by

All, Articles

Overview of Assistive Technology

(Also known as ‘assisted’ technology)

Assistive Technology (AT) describes the systems and devices that help make life easier for people with a disability. The NDIS will fund products and devices that allow you to perform a task that you might not be able to do without this technology, or increase how easily or safely you do it.

AT is meant to help you achieve the goals set out in your NDIS plan and must be considered reasonable and necessary.


What are the different levels of Assistive Technology?

AT is broken into four levels, depending on the complexity of your needs. These are

  • Basic (level 1)
  • Standard (level 2)
  • Specialized (Level 3)
  • Complex (Level 4)


What is Basic Assistive Technology?

Basic AT refers to low-cost, low-risk items that come from local suppliers, like pharmacists, and can be used pretty much out of the box. They need to cost less than $1,500 you don’t need a quote (or an assessment).

Basic assistive technologies can include devices to help you with:

  • Daily living
  • Mobility
  • External continence
  • Communication
  • Vision
  • Hearing

Examples of products can include eating and drinking devices, walking sticks and canes, washable briefs, low-tech communication boards and books, hand-held magnifiers, doorbell and phone alerting systems.

The rise of technology has seen the NDIS fund all types of amazing and helpful IT devices under the low-cost assistive technology category. Some of these include:

  • iPads and tablets
  • Apps
  • Headphones
  • Smart watches
  • Smart-home access

Have a read of our article on what high-tech items can be funded under the NDIS and the rules that apply.


What is Standard Assistive Technology?

Standard AT refers to low-to-medium cost items with low-to-medium risk. These devices can normally be found at specialised assistive technologies suppliers. They might need to be tested or trialled first and may need a minor adjustment or some low-level setup, but are generally off-the-shelf.

Standard assistive technologies can assist with:

  • Bathing and toileting
  • Daily home living
  • Seating
  • Transfers
  • Vision
  • Prosthetics and orthotics

Examples of products can include adjustable shower chairs, kitchen stools, portable ramps, bed or chair rises, transfer belts, vision-specific apps for smart phones, low-cost consumables like silicone liner.

Child reading text in braille as example of assistive technology


What is Specialised Assistive Technology (Level 3)?

Specialised AT refers to medium-risk products that come from specialist assistive technology stores and suppliers. They are likely to require modification or adjustment for your particular support needs, so an assessment will be required.

In addition to a report from your Assistive Technology Assessor, you will need to submit a formal quotation for approval by the NDIS. (It should include delivery and set-up as well as costs for any maintenance and repairs).

Specialised Assistive Technology can help with:

  • Communication
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Continence
  • Bathing and toileting
  • Daily home living
  • Sleeping
  • Transfers
  • Mobility
  • Pressure care

Examples of products can include electronic braille displays, hearing aids, environmental control units, non-portable ramps, pressure mattresses, ceiling hoists, scooters and bath lifts.

Assistance animals may even be considered Specialised ATs! Have a read of our article that outlines the rules surrounding NDIS funding of assistance animals.


What is Complex, Level 3 Assistive Technology?

Complex AT refers to products may be custom-made or off-the-shelf, but are configured specifically for you. They are designed to address your multiple, complex needs and will require integration with other Assistive Technologies.

You will need to submit a report from an Assistive Technology Assessor, who may also need to provide specialised training, ongoing support and help with integrating the device.

A formal quotation must also be submitted approval by the NDIS first. (It should include delivery and set-up as well as costs for any maintenance and repairs).

Complex Assistive Technology can help with:

  • Mobility
  • Complex postural needs
  • Complex bathing and toileting requirements
  • Complex pressure care management
  • Complex sleeping needs
  • Complex prosthetic requirements
  • Complex footwear needs
  • Complex hearing loss
  • Complex home integrations
  • Complex communications needs
  • Complex continence needs
  • Complex nutritional support

Examples of products can include myoelectric-controlled prostheses, voice prostheses, Cochlear Implant speech processors, structural changes to buildings, enteral nutrition, power wheelchairs with integrated controls, bed systems within wheelchairs, shower commodes, high-level pressure cushions, bed rails and specialised software.


How does the NDIS fund Assistive Technology?

The NDIA classifies the price for an item or device as low, mid and high cost. Here’s what you need to remember before you make a purchase:

  • Low-Cost Assistive Technology under $1,500
    • You do not need a quote
    • You do not need written evidence from an independent assistive technology adviser
  • Mid Cost Assistive Technology between $1,500 and $15,000?
    • You do not need a quote.
    • You do need written evidence from an independent assistive technology adviser
  • High-Cost Assistive Technology more than $15,000?
    • You do need a quote.
    • You do need written evidence from an independent assistive technology adviser

 The NDIS will fund a huge range of Assistive Technologies, from walking sticks to power wheelchairs to enable people with a disability to live more comfortable, mobile and connected lives.

Please call Auscare Support on 1800 952 405 today if you would like to talk to one of our team about your Assisted Technology needs, or the NDIS in general.

And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, which is packed with similarly helpful NDIS news and information.