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The specialist disability accommodation (SDA) design standard (PDF 8.39MB) outlines the detailed design requirements for newly built SDA seeking enrolment under the NDIS.

This standard has 4 categories of SDA design, as set out in the SDA Rules (2020):

  • improved liveability
  • robust
  • fully accessible
  • high physical support.

The SDA design standard improves clarity about design requirements, provider confidence and compliance by giving:

  • participants access to high-quality housing models
  • providers flexibility to respond to participant needs and preferences
  • architects, builders and the community information about how housing for people with disability should be built.

The SDA design standard came into effect on 1 July 2021.

All dwelling enrolment applications must include an SDA design standard certification from a SDA assessor. The SDA design standard does not apply to dwellings seeking enrolment as existing or legacy SDA.

The SDA design standard implementation plan (DOCX 211KB) outlines the timing and requirements in the lead up to the SDA design standard taking full effect.

Design standard exemptions

You can apply for an exemption for dwellings completed after 1 July 2021.

The NDIA may give exemptions if:

  • you have made significant financial commitments for the project to progress
  • it isn’t possible to alter the project plans to the new SDA design standard.

To apply for an exemption, please use the SDA Exemption Form (XLSX 105KB).

Exemptions will be granted solely at the discretion of the NDIA. 

Please read the SDA Operational Guideline for more information.

SDA assessors

The SDA design standard requires a SDA assessor to be engaged by the SDA developer or owner at the design stage.

A SDA assessor is the only person who can issue a certificate of SDA category compliance, to confirm that the design and or final-as-built dwelling has met all the requirements of the SDA design standard.

This process is intended to provide certainty to the SDA market about future enrolment and allow the preparation for dwelling enrolment to be undertaken by the NDIS prior to completion of the final as built assessment.

The NDIA will record the information and include this in data releases to inform the market of the pipeline of work under development, noting that commercial in confidence or identifying information will be protected. 

Accreditation of SDA assessors

Access Institute (external) delivers the only NDIA approved training course to allow qualified assessors to gain accreditation to assess plans and dwellings for compliance with the SDA design standard.

Anyone can do the course, however only specified professionals (architects, accesses consultants, occupational therapists and building surveyor) who meet certain prerequisites can become accredited SDA assessors. 

Prerequisites for SDA assessor course

Architects, access consultants, occupational therapists and building surveyors are the only professions that meet the nominated prerequisites to become accredited SDA assessors.

This page current as of
20 August 2021