Skip to main content

Communication Assistive Technology Accreditation

What is CAT 1 and CAT 2?

CAT stands for Communication Assistive Technology. CAT levels 1 & 2 are areas of accreditation that assessors can obtain from Enable New Zealand in order to assess for Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People funded services for people with disabilities. CAT Levels 1 & 2 sit under the Equipment and Modification Services (EMS). 

Assessors play and important role in helping disabled people access funded services by:

  • Assessing the person’s needs
  • Checking the person is eligible for Whaikaha funding 
  • Working out the best solution to meet the person’s needs 
  • Applying to the Ministry’s service provider (either Enable or Accessable) to fund or arrange the service for the person 
Who can get CAT accreditation?

CAT accreditation is available to:

  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech language therapists 
  • Visiting neurodevelopmental occupational therapists
CAT Level 1

A therapist with CAT 1 accreditation can assess clients who fit the following description:

  • Where their sole disability-related need is complex communication or they are an emergent communicator, and 
  • Who may benefit from low to mid technology communication solutions, such as:
    • Static display devices
    • Keyboard devices that do not require complex programming 
    • Tablet devices where:
      • The person is able to ‘direct access’ (e.g. touch the iPad directly with their finger, no alternative access needed). 
      • There are no complex environmental factors that may affect the use of the tablet 
      • The proposed service request has been discussed with Whaikaha’s Specialist Assessment Service (currently TalkLink Trust) before being submitted to the EMS provider. 
  • If you are not sure if an application is CAT 1 or CAT 2, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
CAT Level 2

CAT Level 2

A therapist with CAT 2 accreditation can assess clients who fit the following description:

  • Who have complex communication needs in addition to other disability-related needs (cognitive, physical, sensory etc) which requires a multidisciplinary team approach 
  • Who spend a significant amount of time in environments that require a high level of collaboration between team members
  • Who may benefit from more complex communication solutions including follow-up or ongoing support 
  • Where successful implementation required highly specialist knowledge of products and processes 

To apply for CAT 2 accreditation, you need to have been providing communication assistive technology under CAT 1 for at least 1 year.

I want to get my accreditation

To apply for EMS accreditation please see 

Assessor responsibilities

Your responsibilities as a CAT 1 or 2 assessor include:

  • Keeping your contact and employer details up to date 
  • Maintaining your clinical skills for the areas of accreditation you hold 
  • Be eligible for or hold a current annual practicing certificate (APC) - this will vary based on your professional body (e.g New Zealand Speech-Language Therapy Association, or Occupational Therapy Board New Zealand). 
  • Hold current ATANZ membership 
  • Participate in clinical supervision related to CAT assessments . 

There are more details about the accreditation process here on the TalkLink Website. 

How long does CAT accreditation last?

3 years - then you will need to apply for re-creditation. 

To re-credential for CAT 1 you will need to:

  • Complete a minimum of 9 assessments for people who have CAT level 1 needs over the 3 year period. These do not necessarily need to result in a funding application to Whaikaha, the 9 assessments can include a trial where a system was not funded, or a low tech solution was selected. 
  • Complete a minimum of 12 hours professional development and training specific to CAT over the 3 year period. 
  • Have your supervisor endorse your application to renew your credential. 

To re-credential for CAT 2 you will need to:

  • Complete a minimum of 15 assessments for people who have CAT level 2 needs over the 3 year period. These do not necessarily need to result in a funding application to Whaikaha however.
  • Complete a minimum of 12 hours professional development and training specific to CAT over the 3 year period. 
  • Have your supervisor endorse your application to renew your credential. 
What are the benefits to obtaining CAT accreditation?

CAT accreditation enables assessors to assess a client’s needs without having to refer to an external agency (provided the assessment is within their scope of accreditation). This can speed up service delivery and reduce wait times for clients, their whānau and teams. 

CAT assessors are able to access ATANZ funded trial equipment to support their assessment process. TalkLink Trust currently manages the provision of this equipment on ATANZ’s behalf. To request trial equipment, please complete the form found here. 

Once you have CAT Accreditation

Assessment and trial process

Anyone with a valid CAT accreditation can complete an assessment, trial and application. 

You can access trial equipment privately, or access the ATANZ trial equipment. This equipment is managed by TalkLink, access it by filling out the form here. 

CAT Reports

For clinicians with CAT level 1 accreditation applying for a tablet which a person can direct access, a CAT report detailing the assessment, trial, and rationalle for equipment needs to be sent to TalkLink for review. 

This is to ensure consistent, and high quality AAC services accross Aotearoa. 

The criteria that your CAT report needs to cover can be found here: compact version, extended version. 

The report template can be found here

CAT reports only need to be sent for review for tablet based communication apps. 

Completing an application
  1. You need to have valid CAT accreditation 
  2. Send the CAT report to TalkLink (for Tablet technology)
  3. Request an equipment quote from the supplier
  4. Complete the assessment on the EMS Portal (Equipment and Modification Services)
  5. If funding approved, then progress to Enable or AccessAble 
  6. For tablet technology - complete equipment set up request form for TalkLink 
Equipment set-up

TalkLink holds the contract to set up all tablet technology funded through Ministry of Health, Whaikaha, or ACC. This includes devices which have been completed by clinicians outside TalkLink. During set up, TalkLink document and label equipment, meaning later on people are able to recover account details/logins, or access tech support if their device is broke. 

You can request equipment set up after you have completed a successful equipment application, using the form here. 

Other CAT 1 equipment (e.g. switches, or GoTalk) can be sent directly to the client or clinician. 

Repairs and replacements

TalkLink tech support hold the contract for all CAT equipment repair. Clinicians, or clients/AAC users can contact TalkLink for support. 

If a person's communication device: 

  • has broken
  • is too old and no longer works effectively
  • cannot be repaired by tech support
  • still meets the person's communication needs 

a CAT accredited clinician can apply for a like-for-like replacement. This does not require a new CAT report, but can be completed with an equipment quote, and completing application on AccessAble asap Portal or the Enable Ordering System. Select 'like-for-like' within the application. 

You will still need to send any tablet based equipment to TalkLink for set-up. 

Applying for funded support hours

A CAT application can include both equipment and professional hours. 

To access funding for professional support hours you need to provide a quote for training hours based on the training plan from your report.