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What can I buy with NDIS low risk assistive technology funding?

Information from the NDIS on AT

This information at this link from the NDIS explains the levels of classification of assistive technology.  Whether funding is given for a particular higher cost item will depend on the participant’s goals and the assessor’s decision.

In many cases, participants are given an amount of up to $1021 (correct as of January 2018) to purchase items that are considered low risk.  It is up to the participant’s discretion how they spend that money, of course always bearing in mind that that items purchased with NDIS funding must:

 

  • comply with the general criteria for supports outlined in rule 5.1 of the Supports for Participants Rules;
  • not fall within a category of supports that will not be funded or provided under rule 5.3 of the Supports for Participants Rules;
  • assist the participant to pursue the goals, objectives and aspirations included in the participant’s statement of goals and aspirations;
  • assist the participant to undertake activities, so as to facilitate the participant’s social or economic participation;
  • represent value for money in that the costs of the support are reasonable, relative to both the benefits achieved and the cost of alternative support;
  • effective and beneficial for the participant, having regard to current good practice;
  • takes account of what it is reasonable to expect families, carers, informal networks and the community to provide; and
  • be most appropriately funded or provided through the NDIS, and not more appropriately funded or provided through other service systems.

As outlined in the AT Complexity Classification document, the NDIA recognises some AT as low cost, low risk (Category 1) and participants who have AT identified in their plan will generally have funding in that plan for them to directly purchase a modest amount of this AT that is integral to meeting their plan goals.

The Daily Adaptive Equipment (03_131_0103_1_1) line item under a participant’s CORE budget (Consumables support category) would be where they would claim these expenses. (NDIS document)

What we can offer

That said, here are items which we as an NDIS Registered Provider can supply under the NDIS if funding has been approved and the above criteria are met:

Contact us by emailing accessibility@macandpcdoctors.com.au with further questions or if you would like to arrange a service booking.

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GPS trackers

New tracker called Magpie

We recently contributed to the Kickstarter campaign for a tracking device called Magpie.

A new GPS tracking device

Lots of people ask about a good tracking device for children with autism or elderly people with dementia that can be connected to a carer’s smartphone.  There are plenty of products on the market but some of the reported problems with them are:

  • Bulky and obvious – wearer may take it off
  • Some can be “locked” on but this may be too intrusive to the wearer from a sensory or comfort point of view
  • The range is small – no good for out and about in a public place
  • The lag between the wearer leaving the prescribed area and the alert arriving on the carer’s phone is too long
  • The battery life or the life of the device itself is too short
  • The device is expensive
  • It requires a data plan which is expensive

What’s so good about Magpie?

The Magpie designers claim to have solved all those problems.  Fingers crossed! Here’s what they say:

Magpie is the most affordable, truly global tracker. Others out there are either Bluetooth-powered with short reach, or expensive and theoretical. We’re also set up with a subscription-based service, so there is no cost for the device and the cost of the GPS service is significantly less.

Magpie’s battery is rechargeable, so you’ll never run out of juice.

On a single charge Magpie will last anywhere from 1 day to 3 months depending on the tracking frequency you’ve put in place; by the minute, by the hour, by the day.

Magpie is waterproof, dustproof and designed to withstand anything daily life throws at it.

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Can I buy an iPad with NDIS funding?

Can I buy an iPad with NDIS funding?

Will the NDIS fund an iPad?

Like many things to do with the NDIS, the answer is not necessarily a simple yes or no. A recent update from the NDIS seemed to say outright that iPads are generally not approved because they are considered mainstream devices. People who have already been through the process of applying for NDIS have had mixed experiences – some have had iPads approved and some haven’t.

How do you get assistive technology under the NDIS?

There are two areas in an NDIS plan where there might be funding for assistive technology:

Support Purpose Outcomes Framework Domain Support Category
Core Daily Living Consumables
Capital Daily Living Assistive Technology

 

The Assistive Technology Support Category is designed for big ticket items like wheelchairs, hoists and speech generating devices but has been used for mainstream devices by some participants. Read more about AT under the NDIS here.

There is funding available for cheaper, “low-risk” items under the Consumables Support Category. This could include all sorts of things like nonslip bathmats, vibrating alarms, desktop magnification and, as long as there is enough funding available in a participant’s plan, an iPad or Android tablet.

A standard size 5th generation iPad ranges in price from $469 to $799, depending on the features.

The entry level iPad 5 costs $469

Samsung tablets start from as little as $199 for a 7 inch 8GB WiFi model to $849 for a 9.7 inch 64GB WiFi and 4G model.

“Low cost and low risk items (Level 1) do not need a form to be sent into the NDIS. Participants with AT funded supports in their plan can seek advice (from an Independent Living Centre, AT assessor) and buy it themselves.” (from the NDIS document linked to above).

If your occupational therapist, physiotherapist, speech pathologist or other adviser thinks that an iPad or tablet, smart phone or smart watch would be useful for you, then you can start the process of finding a provider and asking them to put in a request via the NDIS portal.  Ask your allied health professional to write the recommendation in an official report and keep that report in case you are audited by the NDIS in the future.

NDIS funding has also been used by participants to purchase extended warranty on their device, protective cases and iTunes vouchers for purchasing relevant apps.

What if I’m not sure how to use an iPad to support me achieve my goals?

There are people and organisations who can help you with how to use your new device.  Some OTs are very proficient with assistive technology as are some support workers.  Our staff can also help you. Email us on accessibility@macandpcdoctors.com.au or ring us on 07 3892 2227.

What should I make sure is on my NDIS plan?

For a tablet, smartphone or smartwatch, make sure you have funding for Level 1 assistive technology under Core Supports or Assistive Technology under Capital.

For support and training, apply for funding for Innovative Community Participation under Capacity Building.

An iPad can support a person with a disability in many ways
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Apps for Autism

April is Autism Awareness Month.  

Many people with autism find assistive technology hugely beneficial for all sorts of purposes. Some people use dedicated speech generating devices but many use a mainstream device such as an iPad and install apps which fall broadly into the categories of:

  • communication
  • social skills
  • emotional regulation
  • learning
  • academic and work

There are a couple of really good Australian resources to help parents, carers and therapists to make good choices about apps.  See our earlier post on choosing apps.

Bronwyn Sutton of BEST Autism Therapy has created a very comprehensive guide which she updates constantly.

Craig Smith of Autism Pedagogy has a blog post here with an overview of useful apps.

If you are just starting the iPad journey, you will want to think about:

  • goals for iPad use
  • size and memory capability
  • protection with a good case
  • wifi and cellular or wifi only
  • training for user, carers and therapists
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Is a C-Pen right for my child?

What is a C-Pen Reader?

The C-Pen Reader pen scanner is a major technological breakthrough for anyone learning English or Spanish and is a life-saver for those who suffer from reading difficulties such as dyslexia. The C-Pen Reader is a totally portable, pocket-sized device that reads text out aloud with an English or Spanish human-like digital voice.

It’s a small, handheld device a similar size to a highlighter pen which:

  • runs on a rechargeable battery
  • doesn’t need internet to work
  • needs headphones to be used effectively
  • is unobtrusive in most settings
  • scans and reads text aloud immediately
  • can store scanned text
  • can give definitions of scanned words
  • can record voice notes
  • plugs into your computer with a USB connection to download scans and recordings

Who could a C-Pen be useful for?

The C-Pen reader is not much bigger than a highlighter
  • Children over about 8 years old and adults with a reading difficulty such as dyslexia who need to read printed material
  • People with low vision who need to read printed material
  • People with a cognitive disability who need to read printed material

Who is a C-Pen not recommended for?

C-Pen is not suitable for individuals who are not able to smoothly highlight a line of text because of vision or motor issues or because they have not yet reached that level of fine motor skill development.

Will my child be allowed to take a C-Pen reader to school?

It depends on the school’s attitude to the use of assistive technology but many children do take them to school and find that they are a useful, unobtrusive support which doesn’t disturb the rest of the class and doesn’t require the teacher to assist the child with reading information and instructions as much as may be the case without the C-Pen.

Will my child be allowed to use a C-Pen in an exam?

Almost certainly not but you may have a case for your child to be allowed to use an Exam Reader which looks similar to a C-Pen but has only one function: to scan and read text aloud. This provides support in understanding the questions in an exam without the possibility of accusations of cheating.

The only function of the Exam Reader is to scan text and read it aloud

Where can I get a C-Pen?

C-Pen Readers and Exam Readers are available in our online store.  The $390 cost includes postage and it will be shipped to you.  Sets of 10 are also available for schools or tutoring centres to purchase. Please email education@macandpcdoctors.com.au for more details.

Can I get a C-Pen using NDIS funds?

It depends on what has been approved in your plan.  The NDIS does not cover anything education related but may cover items which support daily living and independence.  A C-Pen could fall into the category of low cost and low risk assistive technology items (Level 1).  Items of this nature do not need a form to be sent into the NDIS. Participants with AT funded supports in their plan can seek advice and buy it themselves.

The Daily Adaptive Equipment (03_131_0103_1_1) line item under a participant’s CORE budget (Consumables support category) would be where you would claim these expenses. (Information from https://www.ndis.gov.au/providers/assistive-technology-faqs.html)

If you would like to purchase a C-Pen reader from us using NDIS funds, please make a request via the NDIS portal or email accessibility@macandpcdoctors.com.au to discuss first.