Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability

Pathways15: The COVID Attitude - an Exciting New Normal for Assistive Technology at Western Sydney University

Sally Leggo and Natalie McLaughlin, Western Sydney University

Discover how the small but committed Assistive Technology team at Western Sydney University used the disruption of COVID-19 as an opportunity to completely transform their services into a more flexible engagement model, delivering superior value to their clients and expanding their reach. Walk away inspired to think about Assistive Technology from a different perspective.

Assistive Technology (AT) also known as adaptive technology, refers to software or hardware whose primary purpose is to maintain or improve an individual’s functioning and independence, to facilitate participation, and to enhance overall well-being.

For many, these technologies are seen solely through the lens of disability. At Western, we know they have application for all staff and students, particularly as we adapt them to support the challenge of what is our new normal of learning and working.

The AT Team will give a brief overview of the innovations we have implemented that enabled us to expand our focus so no student is left behind, and no staff member either!

Hear more about how we tackled head-on the challenges COVID-19 placed on our service within the university, how we addressed the limitations and constrictions with an approach that resulted in positive and scalable improvements. Find out how the shift online has let us garner new collaborative relationships throughout the University and has supported the wider uptake of AT, building a more inclusive environment where disclosure of disability is not always required to receive the support needed.

Hear directly from our ˜CommunATy” of staff and student AT users as they share stories on how AT has helped them through the challenges of learning and working online.

Now, more than ever, it is essential that we’re open to new ways of thinking particularly in regard to Assistive Technologies.


Sally is an Assistive Technology Specialist for Western Sydney University. She has a firm belief in the power of technology to create a more inclusive, engaging and efficient education, working and social environment. Sally has a background in web management, digital accessibility and training development and delivery with over 10 years’ experience delivering technology training and support. At present, Sally is focusing on the strategic positioning of AT and the development of inclusive and accessible practices across the University. With a deep love of Auslan and Deaf culture, Sally is also an active member of her local deaf community.

With over 20 years’ experience in higher education, Natalie’s primary focus continues to be the enhancement of the student experience, which she now supports through her work as an Assistive Technology Specialist at Western Sydney University. An enthusiastic and dedicated professional, Natalie provides personalised programs to support students and staff with their assistive technology requirements. A strong advocate of equity and accessibility, Natalie works within the Assistive Technology team to consistently prioritise the development and support of their clients and work to develop initiatives to excel in inclusion through technology.