Electronic & Computer Equipment

As technology advances, so does ‘Assistive Technology' (AT). These advances include:

  • Computer software and hardware, such as voice recognition programmes and screen readers
  • Adaptive switches for playing games
  • Communication aids, for example, an ‘eye-tracking’ device to operate a computer 
  • Environmental control systems which can be built into smartphones, laptops and wheelchair control pads. These can enable people to manage all sorts of daily tasks independently such as opening doors, answering their phone, switching lights on and off, programming and changing heating systems, operating lifts, opening and drawing curtains independently. 

Many devices and systems are increasingly being developed and marketed generally which helps reduce costs and improve availability.

If your child needs specialist computer access for play and learning opportunities at home, they'll usually need an assessment by a Specialist in Assistive Technology. The way this is organised varies but your OT / physio will be able to tell you about local services and potential funding. If your child requires specialist computer access at school, this should be assessed through their Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and provided through education services.

You can find more information about AT and examples of specific products by opening up the links below. You may also find it helpful to visit one of the equipment exhibitions held around the country, which is where you’ll be able to talk with a range of providers. There are four ‘kidz’ exhibitions in the UK each year specifically for children and young people (aged up to 25 years) You’ll find details of these and other events and exhibitions that may be useful here: Equipment Exhibitions, Sport & Other Events.

If an item can’t be funded by the health or local authority but your OT or other specialist can verify your child would benefit from having it, you may be able to get help with funding. Most charities won’t fund retrospectively, so it’s important not to place your order or pay any deposit until all funding has been secured or pledged.

Support Services at SMA UK can suggest charities that may provide a grant. 

Most charities will need:

  • a letter from your OT/specialist to say that the devices you have chosen are suitable and meet your child’s needs and that the NHS is unable to provide funding
  • your quote from the supplier detailing costs, including any extra accessories and delivery. You shouldn’t pay VAT on any items that have been ‘designed solely for disabled people’ (the general rule for whether an item is VAT exempt). Ask the supplier to check for you.

You can find related information in the 'Living with SMA' section: 
Funding for Equipment.

Page last reviewed / updated: April 2021 
Next review due: April 2022