Closing date: October 7, 2023
World Cerebral Palsy Day is coming next week on Friday 6 October! There are over 17 million people with cerebral palsy and over 1 billion people who live with some form of a disability. Yet the world is still not designed to be accessible, inclusive, or equitable. Product designers and the technology industry often overlook … Continued
As a practicing Occupational Therapist with a background in adult rehabilitation, Hana saw that clients using assistive technologies were unhappy with the impact the technology was having on their lives. She also realised that many assistive technologies do not meet the needs of clients and that there is an issue regarding lack of access and abandonment.
Risks include restricting product selection or inadvertent market price fixing. It also means the government may wind up with a warehouse full of equipment waiting to be matched to a user, rather than the products scheme participants really require.
But replacing her worn-out cushion was far from a simple process. “I was accepted onto the scheme for my cerebral palsy. The NDIA knows I have cerebral palsy. They know I use an electric wheelchair,” Ms Lamb said. It started with a two-hour assessment by an occupational therapist who then had to complete an 18 page report which took her 6 hours and cost Lamb over $1,000 before her replacement cushion was approved.
Government Services minister Bill Shorten has called for the greater use of data and automation in National Disability Insurance Scheme assessments as long as an “ethical framework” is in place. He said that the problem with the former government was that it took the “human elemen out.”
Shorten said there was no inherent issue with using automation technology and data analysis in NDIS operations, as long as it was used ethically and transparently. “Automation and using data is excellent, but it’s the purpose it’s used for and it’s the manner in which it’s the ethical framework around it” he said.
However, existing social bias, historical exclusion and insufficient research and data sets pose a challenge for the successful development and implementation of cognitive diversity policies.
When microaggressions occur in live settings, they are often ephemeral, with few bystanders. “When they happen on social media platforms, it’s happening in front of a large audience – the scale is completely different and then they live on, for people to see forever,” said co-author Aditya Vashistha, assistant professor of information science in the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science.
In an NDIS environment where plan cuts are commonplace, low- and mid-cost assistive technology (AT) is a secret weapon for saving money and increasing people’s independence. Done right: it’s a win-win-win scenario. And we’re not talking about small change either: the smart use of AT can reduce the need for (tens of) thousands of dollars’ worth of paid support.
Minister Shorten said home and living supports remained a focus of the Government and was a key issue discussed at recent meetings with state and territory disability ministers. The Australian Government and National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) is taking action to simplify the process for participants seeking minor, non-structural modifications to their home.
The NDIS eMarket did not proceed. This is an appalling situation. Instead, what the Australian community has been left with is a cadaverous, inert and incomprehensible spreadsheet which is the NDIS services and price catalogue, that has defined more than A$100 billion in supports over this period. You see, it’s not the participants ripping off the NDIS. It’s the market preying on this lack of transparency created by the NDIA’s analogue and antiquated conceptualisation of the pricing catalogue. That it has no feedback function is inherently defective. That it is inaccessible is a breach of human rights.
“The more you think about it earlier on, the less you end up in a situation where you have built a whole experience and realised that there’s a huge subset of your users that just can’t access it all.
For the 130 members of TelstrAbility, Telstra’s employee representative group for people with a disability, the opening of a pop-up ‘Accessible Tech Experience Lab’ on May 19th – Global Accessibility Awareness Day – marked a vital acknowledgement of the importance of “asking the person” in any process that aims to promote truly inclusive design.
“Assistive technology is a life changer – it opens the door to education for children with impairments, employment and social interaction for adults living with disabilities, and an independent life of dignity for older persons,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
There have even been cases where clients have died waiting for assistive technology (AT), as service providers struggle to navigate the “complex” and “bureaucratic” National Disability Insurance Scheme.