Assistive technology

Find information about assistive technology (AT), specialised equipment that students with additional learning needs use in class to increase or improve their ability to participate and learn.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Teachers and Kaiako
  • Learning Support Coordinators
  • Specialist Staff
  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau

This directory connects you to information regarding assistive technology. More reading is essential for schools or specialist assessors who are considering applying for assistive technology to support their students.

Transcript: What is Assistive Technology?

Narrator (Tess) in front of learning environment (facing camera)
The first thing many people ask is – “What is assistive technology?”

There are many ways to answer that question.

You could say that it is technology that assists you in some way.

Narrator (Tess) voice over
(Ministry of Education building with Ministry of Education person in front)

In New Zealand, the Ministry of Education defines assistive technology as...

Ministry of Education person (talking to camera)
(Speech bubble)
The specialised equipment and technology that “assists” students to access and participate in learning.

Narrator (Tess) voice over
(Panning across class at work, showing a selection of students with different Assistive Technology needs)

Assistive technology can support a student’s presence, participation, and achievement in many different ways.

As every student learns differently the assistance they require needs to be a good fit
for both the student and the context.

(Student in a wheelchair behind a standard desk that is too low)
Imagine you use a wheelchair.

The desk provided stops you from reaching the resources you need for a learning activity.

(Student in a wheelchair behind a raised desk)
There are assistive technology solutions that can help.

(Student reading a book)
Imagine you are given a textbook and the print is too small to see.

(Student is handed an iPad or magnifier to view text)
There are assistive technology solutions for that.

(Student is writing in a book)
Imagine you are asked to write an essay and you require support to form letters or to handwrite in a way that others can read.

(Student is handed a laptop to use)
There are assistive technology solutions for that, too.

(A group of students walking towards “curriculum” sign)
Assistive technologies provide an “on-ramp” to the curriculum for many students.

(AT text to speech shown – tablet, headphones, iPad)
Many assistive technologies, such as text-to-speech are now built into our phones, tablets and laptops or can be downloaded for free.

They become a resource that all students can use to support their learning.

(Laptop screen showing webpage of braille notes)
Sometimes a student may require the support of a specific assistive technology that is not freely available.

Narrator (Tess) in front of Ministry of Education building (facing camera)
To find out more about funding for assistive technology options, please contact your local Ministry of Education office.

Who can apply for assistive technology

If you are considering applying for assistive technology for a student, see the eligibility criteria outlined here.

Applying for assistive technology

Once you have confirmed that your student is eligible, follow this three-step process to apply for assistive technology.

Peer reviewing the assistive technology application

Learn about the practice of peer reviewing an AT application and when it is required. 

Setting up and managing the assistive technology

Learn about the requirements for schools to set up and manage their student’s assistive technology.

Loss, repairs and maintenance of equipment

Learn about the school’s responsibility when a student’s assistive technology is lost or damaged and the process for getting it repaired or replaced.

When a student transfers or leaves school

Learn how to manage assistive technology when a recipient student transfers or leaves school.

Assistive technology forms

These forms and information sheets can help when considering applying for, or supporting assistive technology use in your school.

Examples of students using a variety of assistive technology

School staff can learn which students may be eligible for assistive technology and how students have benefited from the equipment.

Special assessment conditions for assistive technology

Learn about the requirements for schools when needing to provide extra help to students sitting external exams, such as NCEA.

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