Advancing Accessibility: Assistive Technology Innovations

February 1, 2024    |    By Madeeha Usman    |    11 min read
Advancing Accessibility_ Assistive Technology Innovations

Plans and budgets developed by NDIS assist with day-to-day necessities and short-term and long-term objectives. People with disabilities can receive assistance from the NDIS through money for assistive technology. Assistive technologies refers to various innovative tools, systems, and gadgets to improve communication, boost independence, and promote overall well-being. With so many technologies accessible, it is important to investigate the possibilities that could benefit you or someone you care about.

If you are living with a disability, technology can assist in obtaining your prescription, participating in community activities, or even getting around. This year, we will list the most interesting new assistive technology solutions available to support individuals with sensory, cognitive, or physical challenges. A few of these technologies are so cutting-edge that they are not currently accessible in Australia; however, if the trials being conducted in other countries are successful, we will hopefully see them implemented in Australia as well.

Challenges of people living with disabilities in Australia

NDIS participants face some challenges due to their impairments. Here are some of the difficulties they go through constantly.

Challenges-of-people-living-with-disabilities-in-Australia

1. Limited accessibility 

Considering the problems with limited accessibility in our day-to-day lives, it might be challenging to experience life directly. These impediments can give the impression that they are everywhere, from public buildings with steps but no ramps to websites that do not support screen readers. Individuals who are living with disabilities confront them head-on, advocating for venues and services that are accessible to all individuals without any difficulty or obstruction. There is still a long way to go before the fight for accessibility has been won. Due to insufficient or inadequate facilities, everyday activities, such as boarding a bus or browsing the internet, should be easy to accomplish. Through tireless advocacy for expanded access, it is possible to ensure that assistive technologies become the norm in all aspects of life, ensuring that everyone can flourish without any obstacles.

2. Absence of inclusive technologies 

Technology that is accessible to all members of the community is really necessary. Those who are living with disabilities deserve technology that is not just accessible but also meets their specific requirements. Many of the technologies that are now available do not accommodate the wide variety of disabilities that exist within the community. As a result, it is challenging for individuals to connect with and benefit from these technologies fully.

Because there is a lack of inclusive technologies, there are frequent chances for independence, education, work, and social interaction that should be taken advantage of. The lives of people who are living with impairments would be significantly improved if new technologies were developed with the special requirements of persons with disabilities in mind.

3. Limited access to employment opportunities

When looking for work possibilities specifically catered to those with disabilities, individuals can search through various internet platforms and job boards to uncover these chances. There is a growing number of businesses that are actively working to build workplaces that are more inclusive and are willing to accommodate a variety of demands. 

In addition, assistive technology plays a significant part in improving accessibility in the workplace. It makes it possible for individuals with disabilities to complete activities effectively, regardless of whether they are cognitive or physical. With speech-to-text transcription tools, smart home automation systems, and other assistive equipment, everyone can traverse professional situations easily and freely.

What are assistive technologies?

Assistive tools refer to any tool, object, equipment, or software utilised to assist in completing tasks. People with disabilities can improve or maintain their functional capacities with assistive technology provided by the NDIS. Various alternatives, such as canes, prosthetics, pencil holders, walkers, and technological devices, are all examples of what are considered to be examples of assistive technology.

5 Different types of assistive technologies available for NDIS participants

A wide variety of assistive technologies are available, ranging from straightforward gadgets to intricate systems that may be customised to meet the requirements of each individual. To illustrate the variety of possibilities, let's look at a few different categories and examples:

5-Different-types-of-assistive-technologies-available-for-NDIS-participants

1. Communication aids

Among the various types of assistive technologies, communication aids are among the most popular choices for those whose disability negatively affects their communication capacity. Electronic communication boards, speech-to-text communication software, and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices are some examples of devices that fall under this category. They can communicate their ideas, thoughts, and feelings with other people thanks to the technologies available to them.

2. Personal care and safety gadgets

Personal care and safety gadgets are also examples of assistive technologies that can benefit individuals. This not only has the potential to safeguard the health and well-being of a person who is living with a disability, but it also provides ease of mind to the individual as well as to the others who care about them.

As an illustration, personal alarms make it possible for someone who would otherwise be unable to contact emergency services to communicate their need for assistance. In addition, there are medication reminders designed to assist in forming consistent medication routines, which can be of great significance for the effectiveness of medicine. Lastly, fall detection systems can be adapted to notify loved ones or emergency services in the case of a fall. This type of notification can be personalised.

3. Smart home automation

Smart technology can refer to many things, not simply the entertainment and gadgets that dazzle your peers. The smart home is designed to make life easier, more efficient, and more convenient for its inhabitants. It is possible for intelligent technology to change people's lives completely, and this can be a game-changer for those who are elderly or who live with a disability. The concept of a smart home for individuals who are elderly or disabled is more than just a dwelling; it is a way of life instead. In addition to allowing you more freedom than you ever have, it will improve every part of your life. Here is where the magic happens: Through your smartphone, you can control the systems and appliances in your home. Using your voice, you can construct pre-set "scenes" that you can call upon. Suppose, for example, that you wish to design a scene that takes place at night. Saying "Hey Siri, nighttime" is all required to have Siri obey your command.

4. Mobility aids

Using mobility equipment can be a game-changer for those whose disabilities restrict their capacity to move around. Participants in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can benefit greatly from using walking aids, mobility scooters, and wheelchairs. These devices help them navigate their surroundings, participate in community events, and move about their everyday lives with increased independence.

Users of smart wheelchairs have greater control and autonomy in exploring their surroundings since these wheelchairs are integrated with sensors and navigation systems. People with mobility problems can benefit from these wearable robotic devices, which can improve their mobility by providing support for walking and other motions. Interested in reading a guide on how to get support from NDIS? Read this

5. Listening aids and assistive technology

It is essential for people who have hearing impairments to have access to assistive listening equipment to communicate and go about their everyday lives. Hearing aids, cochlear implants, and portable amplifiers are likely eligible for payment from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). One of the most important things you can do to help your loved one become more independent is to determine whether or not an assistive listening device is the appropriate tool for them.

5 Benefits of assistive technology in the lives of persons with disabilities

Many advantages can person with a handicap can gain through the utilisation of assistive technology. It is generally allowed to receive funding if it can be demonstrated that it will improve the quality of life in the following ways:

5-Benefits-of-assistive-technology-in-the-lives-of-persons-with-disabilities

1. Total control

A person with a handicap may have greater control over their surroundings if they include assistive technology in their daily routine. For instance, when utilising technology that is voice-activated or technology that is controlled by an application. These technologies can all control the amount of light, temperature, and fresh air that enters a room. 

2. Improves accessibility

Increased accessibility to assistive technology can result in additional opportunities for independence for certain individuals, particularly those whose handicap makes it difficult to exercise their free will. Consequently, increased independence can result in a gain in both self-esteem and confidence. Read more on How Accessibility in Public Places Breaks Down Barriers for NDIS Participants.

3. Eliminates accidents

Technology innovations that utilise artificial intelligence (AI), have the potential to add a layer of protection. One way to reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring is to have access to systems that can be managed. An example would be keyless doors, which provide wheelchair users with increased independence and security. AT allows for quick access to emergency services if they are required.

4. Improves one's sense of privacy and dignity

Assistive technology can potentially lessen the need for assistance from other people, increasing the individual's sense of privacy and dignity, particularly in personal care. Find out more about NDIS and inclusive events for participation

5. Cost effective

As a result of their ability to multitask, intelligent technology solutions can help cut overall expenditures. Lighting control systems, for example, offer a means for controlling entry to premises. Furthermore, they can be programmed to brighten your home at a specific level, reducing the amount of money you spend on energy.

Conclusion

The cost of assistive technology might be rather high. If, on the other hand, your disability is of a certain sort, it may be possible for you to utilise a portion of the cash that you receive from the NDIS to acquire these devices. Assistive technology eligibility is often evaluated by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), frequently with the assistance of an occupational therapist. Be certain to assess the assistive technologies that might be useful for you or a loved one and investigate the possibility of receiving money from the NDIS for these technologies.

Because we at Care Assure are aware that the requirements and objectives of every individual are distinct, we adopt a tailored approach to the supply of assistive technology on behalf of our clients. Our group of knowledgeable professionals collaborate closely with individuals, their families, and other support networks in order to determine the assistive technology solutions that are the most suitable and efficient for the affected individuals. Additionally, we offer continuing support and maintenance services to guarantee that our customers may continue to reap the benefits of the assistive technology solutions they have purchased throughout the course of time.

Frequently asked questions

Who funds AT?

You have the option of discussing this matter with your Allied Health providers to seek their professional guidance on what assistive technology (AT) would be most suitable for you if you have not yet secured financing for AT but believe that it would help you improve your life, achieve your objectives, and raise your level of independence. Before filing a request or application to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), you must obtain an evaluation from a professional, such as an occupational therapist, for certain types of assistive technology (AT).

Does the NDIS support different assistive technologies?

Various assistive technologies are included under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), including mobility aids, communication devices, house adaptations, sensory equipment, and individualised software applications. A specific assistive technology (AT) is offered to the participant based on their needs and goals.

Can participants select the Assistive Technology providers of their choice?

Participants do have the ability to select the Assistive Technology providers that they feel most comfortable with. On the other hand, the selected service providers must be registered with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which guarantees that the services and equipment provided meet the required quality and safety requirements.

Does NDIS-sponsored assistive technology have any restrictions?

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) considers financing for assistive technology based on the criteria that are reasonable and required. A direct connection must exist between the participant's impairment and the technology, and it must also contribute to the participant's achievement of the goals indicated in the NDIS plan. Some things are deemed mainstream, such as those covered by education or health services, yet the NDIS does not cover them.

What if the user's assistive technology needs change during the program?

If a participant's requirements for Assistive Technology change, they can request a review of their NDIS plan to address the necessary revisions. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is intended to be adaptable and sensitive to the ever-changing circumstances of its participants, ensuring that they continue to receive essential assistance and technology.

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