For people with hearing loss, assistive technologies can offer great additional support to ensure they can hear and communicate as well as possible.
Such devices may be funded under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for those under the age of 65, however there is plenty of information to first be navigated. Hear and Say’s dedicated NDIS team helps explain below.
What’s assistive technology?
Assistive technologies help you to complete daily tasks more easily or safely, and/or help you to do something you couldn’t otherwise due to your disability. This includes microphones, TV streamers, shake-awake alarms and waterproofing kits; Roger devices including Touchscreen Mics, Multimedia Hubs and Pass-around mics; and upgrades to processors and hearing aids.
To have assistive technologies added to your plan, your NDIS planner or the NDIS needs to first understand how it will help you to pursue your goals. Depending on the equipment, an additional assessment or a recommendation letter from your service provider may be needed.
Buying assistive technology can be spread across the support budget areas of an NDIS plan:
Core: supports which help you in day-to-life activities.
Capital: restricted to specific assistive items identified in your NDIS plan, such as equipment or home modifications.
Capacity building: supports relating to your independence and skills.
“At Hear and Say, most of our clients will use their Core supports budget (under ‘Consumables’) for the bulk of their assistive technology purchases,” said Customer Experience/Operations Manager, Petra Grum.
“Some of the most commonly requested items such as microphones, TV streamers, shake-awake alarms and waterproofing kits will be considered ‘Low cost assistive technology’ as they are usually under $1,500 per item. Minor repairs and maintenance outside a product’s warranty period can also be paid for in this way, too.”
Other assistive technologies – while still under $1,500 per item – may require an assistive technology assessment which must be sent to your NDIS planner or the NDIS for review prior to buying. This includes all Roger devices including Touchscreen Mics, Multimedia Hub and Pass-around mics, as well as upgrades to processors and hearing aids.
Where approved, families and clients can use their NDIS funding to purchase a range of equipment directly from Hear and Say, such as the Cochlear Mini Microphone, TV Streamer, Phone Clip and Aqua+, and all Phonak devices.
What assistive technologies won’t the NDIS fund?
The NDIS won’t fund assistive technology if it’s considered another organisation’s responsibility to fund or deliver it. For Hear and Say families, this often relates to Soundfield speaker systems for educational settings, or devices that can be accessed through the Hearing Services Program (HSP) such as upgrades and FM systems. If this happens to you, check with your audiologist to see what assistance may be available.
For clients aged 26 years and older, the NDIS will also only fund hearing supports for participants who aren’t eligible for the HSP, or where hearing supports aren’t available through the HSP but are otherwise considered reasonable and necessary. While you can access funding from the HSP and NDIS at the same time, you aren’t allowed to simultaneously get the same supports from both. Check your eligibility via the HSP and NDIS websites.