Applying for assistive technology

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

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Video: How to apply for funded assistive technology

Transcript: How to apply for funded assistive technology

Title slide:
How to apply for assistive technology funding

Narrator (Tess) in a class of students (facing camera)

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

(Panning across students in class)

Although it may look similar, it is different from the technology used every day in the classroom as it enables a student to do things they cannot do without the technology, or helps them do things better than they can without it.

Narrator (voice over) showing a student with BrailleNote

Despite the ever-increasing use and sophistication of today’s technology in schools, the Ministry of Education recognises that some students still need specialised devices over and above what is available in most classrooms.

Narrator (Tess) in front of whiteboard

School students may be considered for assistive technology funding if they are supported through any of the current Learning Support services.

(List showing on whiteboard)

These include:

  • Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS)
  • Speech-Language (Communication) service
  • Behaviour and Support service (BSS)
  • Services for Blind and Low Vision
  • Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Physical disability support service (PDS)
  • School High Health Needs Fund (SHHNF)
  • In-class support (ICS).

Narrator (Tess) voice over
(Laptop screen showing Ministry of Education website Assistive technology page)

Funding may also be available for students receiving specific additional learning support through their school. You can find more information about this category on our website.

(AT team, student and whānau sitting at table around laptop)

Identifying which assistive technology would be a good fit for a learner requires a team approach. When you, the student’s support team, whānau and often the student, are considering assistive technology options, you will use the first part of the Ministry of Education’s assistive technology assessment and application form to document information about your student.

(Screen showing SETT; student appearing on screen)

This form uses the SETT framework to guide you through how to determine what is the best device, software and/or apps for your student’s identified learning needs.

(S is highlighted in SETT; showing student)
‘S’ is for the student and asks for details about who the student is and what has led the team to consider assistive technology.

(E is highlighted in SETT; student standing outside learning environment)
‘E’ stands for the learning environment. This means the classroom as well as the school, including its resources and features.

(T is highlighted in SETT; showing student writing a letter)
‘T’ is for the learning tasks that the student is currently working on. These may be goals taken from the student’s Individual Education Plan, or IEP.

(T is highlighted in SETT; showing student using an iPad with clicker-like software)
The second ‘T’ stands for the tools likely to enable the student in this learning environment to complete the learning tasks required.

(Screen showing Ready, SETT, Go!)

Ready, SETT, Go!

Narrator (Tess) showing iPad and external keyboard (facing camera)

Now it’s time to trial the device/equipment/technology and see if it does the job.
Just like you wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on, your student and team will need to trial the equipment you think will work best.

(Narrator holding shoes and ice skates)
After all, it’s no good if you need these (sneakers) but end up with those (ice skates)!

So try the items on for size and gather some evidence to show it is just what your student needs.

Narrator (Tess) voice over
(Three students facing camera holding assistive technology tools and showing their bubbles of achievement)

How? By collecting samples showing what the student can achieve without the equipment and then comparing them to what the student can achieve using the equipment.

Narrator (Tess) with Ministry person (local assistive technology coordinator) (facing camera)

The trial process is crucial so if you get stuck we can help.

Your local assistive technology coordinator is available for advice and guidance in all aspects of the process.
Contact your closest Ministry of Education office for more support.

Narrator (Tess) voice over
(Images of assistive technology application forms)
Once you have pre- and post-trial work samples and have completed the Ministry AT assessment and application form, attach the quote from the suppliers of the items you’ve recommended and send it all to your local Assistive Technology Coordinator for funding consideration.

(Image of person in front of laptop showing application forms on screen)
The moderation team will review all assistive technology applications and let you know what the outcome is.

Following a successful moderation, the funding goes directly to the school to purchase the items that were successfully trialled.

(Student facing camera – frown turning into a smile)
The result? One happy and successful student.

(ta da!!! balloons)

Narrator (Tess) in front of learning environment (facing camera)

(Visit our website
For further information on the application process, and to find out if funding may be available for the student you are working with, please visit our website or contact your local Ministry of Education office.

Before you apply

Gather a support team with 1 person taking responsibility for coordinating the team's action. This person will make sure the team completes all tasks related to identifying your student’s learning needs and current tasks/goals, trialling the specialised equipment and applying for assistive technology.

The team will support the trial of the specialised equipment and completion of the application form.

The team is also responsible for any ongoing administration, management and use of the technology to support your student's learning.

The student and members of their whānau must be part of this team. In some cases, you may have a team already set up as part of the school’s learning support process.

Information to help you fill out the application form

Gather information and fill out the assistive technology application form as you go.

The SETT framework for assessment

We use the internationally recognised SETT (student, environment, tasks, and tools) framework to assess and guide the team's decision-making when considering what assistive technologies the student needs.

The assistive technology assessment framework

Sections 1 to 6 of the form

  • The team, student and their whānau collate the information that reflects a shared team understanding about the student and their learning environment.
  • Clarify the purpose of considering assistive technology (the student's specific learning goals/tasks).
  • Gather baseline data to show what the student can do now without the assistive technology (related to the specific learning goals/tasks).
  • Collect a representative piece of work showing what the student is achieving now (pre-trial sample).

Sections 7 and 8 of the form

  • The team collectively decide on the technology items/tools that may meet the student's learning needs.
  • Options should be discussed with your school, learning support specialists and your local assistive technology coordinator if required (don’t limit yourself to what you already know).

Use the black box technique

  • Identify the assistive technology tools and strategies using the "black box technique" to share possible options or solutions.
  • The "black box technique" is used by imagining that you are giving your student a "black box". The team list the features that the "black box" needs to have to support your student’s learning. Once you have developed the list, use it to match to available technologies that have the specific features you have identified:
    • what do you want this "black box" to do?
    • what are the specific features this "black box" needs to have to address the students identified learning needs
  • There is often a broad range of possible devices. Consider whether this is “standard” educational technology or “assistive” technology.
      • Is the technology generally used by students in the classroom (education technology)?
      • Is the technology more specialised, allowing the student to overcome specific barriers to learning and able to improve their ability to actively participate in their learning (assistive technology)?

Trialling the technology

Trial the selected assistive technology and record student's learning outcomes on the trial table. Most trials take 3-4 weeks. In complex cases trials can take longer as you may need to trial a variety of equipment options.

  • A trial device may be arranged by school staff or a learning support specialist and should always include the family/whānau and school team.
  • Data taken during the trial of the assistive technology should compare to the baseline information to show the impact of the assistive device on student learning outcomes.
    • Does the technology make a difference to learning outcomes?
    • Does the technology improve the identified functional capabilities of the student?
    • Is there more than one tool you could try?
  • Ensure you have clear, measurable, comparable pre and post data for each of the specific learning goals in the trial outcome table of the application form.

Collect a representative sample of work showing what the student is achieving at or near the end of the trial (post-trial sample).  

At the end of the trial the team will decide if they need to apply for assistive technology funding or not by reviewing the trial results. You either won’t go any further with your application as it's not the right equipment for the student, or you'll complete the Ministry of Education assessment application form.

Sections 9 to 15 of the form

  • Get a cost-effective quote from your preferred supplier for the technology items required and attach to the application. Write the details into the quote section of the application form, completing all boxes as they are set out.
  • If the quote for the items seems expensive, the Ministry of Education assistive technology coordinator may source another from an all-of-government supplier.
  • Attach analysed pre- and post-trial work samples relevant to the assistive technology application.
  • It is not necessary to attach any other supporting documents such as specialist assessment reports or learning support plans. Anything relevant from these should be written in the application form.

Peer reviewing the application

Before submitting the assistive technology application for funding consideration, check to see if it requires a peer review.

Peer reviewing an assistive technology application

Complete and submit the application

The last step in the process is to submit your completed assessment and application form to the local assistive technology coordinator for funding consideration.

Applications can be made at any time but are considered on a monthly basis at moderation meetings.

Around 2 weeks after your application has been considered by the moderation meeting team, your school will receive a letter letting you know the outcome of your application.

What happens once you have submitted your application

Getting the assistive technology

The moderation decision letter will outline the items that were progressed. These will either be reissued from the trial pool (if they had been purchased for the trial and were successful), or new purchases that the school team will need to order using the quote provided with the application, and pay for the items using the funding that will be put in the schools’ account.

Schools are asked to assume ownership of the equipment and add the assistive technology to their asset register. Schools are also asked to send a copy of the purchase invoice to the local assistive technology coordinator for their records.

If the level of funding provided based on the application quote differs from the purchase invoice then you can apply for the additional funding using an assistive technology variation form. This needs to be done within 3 months of funding.

The moderation team may decide to partially progress an application (were some items may not be able to be progressed for some reason) or it may be deferred requiring additional information before a decision can be made. In very rare instances an application may not be progressed when the items requested are not appropriate for assistive technology funding.

Ask for a review if you are not happy with the outcome

You can ask to have your assistive technology application outcome reviewed when:

  • there's a concern procedures haven't been followed, or
  • there's a dispute about the moderation decision.

Start the process by first talking to your local assistive technology coordinator.

If you want to go further, you can make a written request for a review to the national coordinator for assistive technology.

You can either post your request or email it to:

Te Tai Raro | North:

Te Tai Whenua | Central:

Te Tai Runga | South:

Post to:

National assistive technology coordinator
Ministry of Education
PO Box 1666

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