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New thinking required for national disability technology

Byron Connolly | June 25, 2015
New thinking required for national disability technology "The disability world is deep and diverse. I’m not your average disabled computer user by any stretch of the imagination." - Sean Fitzgerald

"Having someone engage with us across all our domains whether it's in the participant domain, face-to-face or using different apps, that's going to be quite different to what the usual experience will be [when dealing with other DHS and government services]. It's going to take service design to a different level," Johnson said.

'Gamifying' content -- using computer game elements to help people navigate through services -- may be an option, she said.

Daniel Newman, partner at Deloitte Australia, a partner on the project, said the NDIS system will not deliver a traditional user experience that utilises transactional, text-based portals that people have become used to seeing.

"This will be totally different. As a snapshot as to what this might look like -- it will bring together the leading ideas and thoughts that are happening in social media and engagement platforms but use that in a social insurance context," he said.

Participants will be able to get online and choose providers they want to engage with and see which services have been provided to other people with similar needs in their local area, said Newman.

A complex service environment

Sean Fitzgerald is only one type of customer that technologists are going to have to create solutions for. People have a variety of needs and the challenge will be to make sure participants only have to tell their story once, he pointed out.

"A single mother with two intellectually-disabled kids who is on duty 24 hours a day is more than time poor. You can't occupy her time by [making her] deal with electronic paperwork," he said. "It's this level of customer that ICT contractors are going to have to deal with."

Suppliers will need to make sure the language is appropriate and they will need to engage with other organisations that specialise in these areas, particularly those who work with people with an intellectual disability, he said.

One of these organisations might be the ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACS), a not-for-profit aimed organisation that helps people with disabilities and their carers. Fitzgerald is a board member of ADACS.

"This is about making sure that we get the maximum number of NDIS participants to deal with their own affairs as possible," he said

Fitzgerald highlights that many people with disabilities have never been allowed to be responsible for their own finances and have been told not to expect the same everyday services that other people gets access to.

"These are things that unless you are directly involved in the disability industry, you wouldn't know. So they [service providers] are really going to have to start thinking outside the square from a base level up," he said.


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