A free assistive technology (AT) Portal designed to help people with disability across Australia store their AT information, get specialised peer support and build their knowledge, is up and running.
The free portal, launched by AT Chat, is an Independent Living Assessment (ILA) initiative that creates peer-led information and peer support to help increase the confidence of people with disability to make AT decisions. Over the past four years, AT Chat has grown to a community of over 5000 people with disability around Australia who share their lived experience and knowledge of AT.
AT Chat co-designed the portal with the disability community to help them navigate the complex world of selecting AT. Community member Stuart said: “My AT Portal is going to make it far easier for me to connect to people who have the knowledge to assist me with my current AT and to enhance my life by introducing me to new AT.”
Users can also connect with AT navigators who will answer their questions, research information and provide a solution guide to help them reach their goals.
According to AT navigator, Martin Duff, working with AT Chat was an opportunity to share his experience with others about how AT shaped his life. “AT has made such a big impact on me, so guiding people to find the right ‘AT fit’ that suited them, was a challenge I was excited to be a part of,” he said.
The co-design journey of the AT Portal and navigator service began more than three years ago and involved hundreds of people with disability and AT Chat research partner Dr Natasha Layton, from Monash University.
AT Chat’s co-design ethos ensured the portal, and the navigator service are a holistic, person-focused, AT decision-making support model that is based on three building blocks of evidence: co-design, a peer support model and research.
AT user Nerine Williams tuned in via a video call from Queensland to join in the co-design process, and as she explored the portal, she emphasised how having this tool could help simplify the AT process for her. “The AT Portal will open, broaden and expand my AT world, increase my independence and help me choose and find the right AT fit for me,” she said.
AT Chat community member and Paralympian, Elizabeth Edmondson said she was looking forward to setting up her AT Portal to stay in touch with her peers and find out about the latest technology. “The portal will help me connect with the AT community by having a one-stop-shop for what I need and other ideas for what I didn’t know I needed.”
Together, with the AT Portal, the new e-Learning platform AT Discover provides the community with a place to learn from peer-led modules with an e-Learning tool that gives users the opportunity to learn more about a range of AT topics at their own pace.
AT Chat is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services through an Information, Linkages and Capacity Building Grant. The AT Portal is the central hub for searching through more than 15,000 products via the National Equipment Database (NED) and store the information about the make, model, and service schedule of each piece of technology. Read more about the Portal here. Find out more about AT here.