What a personal assistant (PAA) can do for you

(financed by the “Sozialministeriumservice” – SMS)

In Austria, disabled students can apply for a personal assistant (“Persönliche Assistenz am Arbeits-/Ausbildungsplatz”, PAA) who provides support at their workplace and during (higher) education. The university’s requirements listed above also point out the limitations of such an assistance, and are clearly defined in the funding guidelines:

… Disabled women and men fit for employment can apply for a personal assistant at work if they are classified into level of care 5,6 or 7, and if they are professionally and personally fit for the intended or practiced occupation, and

… if they are able to finish a degree course or a professional training with the help of a personal assistant within the time frame stipulated by law, plus the legitimate extra semesters allowed for study grants (please consider § 19 Abs. 3 Z 3 StudFG as well as the act BGBI II No. 310/2004 concerning study grants for disabled students).

… In exceptional cases, disabled women and men classified into levels of care 3 and 4 can also apply for a personal assistant … (2011, p. 2 f) [1] Sozialministeriumservice (previously BMASK), guideline “Persönliche Assistenz am Arbeitsplatz“, 1 January 2011.

What a personal assistant (PAA) can do for you:

  • Help you to get from your home to your workplace / training place (i.e., university campus), including dropping off and picking up children from childcare, if necessary
  • Assist you with official commitments outside of your workplace (e.g., visiting events, business trips)
  • Assist and support you to get or accomplish jobs if you are self-employed
  • Provide you with manual help during your training, or perform professional tasks
  • Provide other forms of assistance required by the kind of your disability (e.g., help with getting into and out of your car, taking on/off your jacket, help with lunch).

A personal assistant at work enables the persons using their services to organise their working life increasingly autonomously and independently. (2011, p. 3).

The funding guidelines explicitly point out the limitations of a personal assistant:

A personal assistant cannot support you as regards the contents or professional matters of your job performance or (higher) education. Likewise, you cannot make use of personal assistant at work if your disability can be compensated with technical aids at your workplace. (2011, p. 3)

Important note: Due to legal reasons, personal assistants cannot assist you during examinations (however, they can accompany you to your examination and pick you up afterwards). You need to coordinate any assistance you need during examinations with the team of the Disability & Diversity Centre.