Assistive Technology and Types of Supports

You can submit questions through our weekly Q & A posts on the Facebook page (external) or through twitter #ndisqanda.

My child is living with severe disability. My partner and I recently started to see a counsellor to help us support our son – does anyone know if this could be covered by his NDIS plan?

Yes, family support and counselling due to a family member’s disability may be funded by the NDIS. This support is available to build the skills and capacity of other family members to manage the impact of a participant’s disability on family life. You can find more information about this on the carers section of our website.

Outside of the NDIS, there are a number of supports available to carers. You can find out more about these supports by visiting the Carer Gateway website (external link), or calling 1800 422 737.

How does the process for purchasing Assistive Technology (AT) work?

How you purchase your assistive technology depends on your needs, how your plan is managed, whether or not you need an assistive technology (AT) assessment, and the level of complexity your assistive technology is classified as.

There are 4 levels of AT complexity.

The NDIS AT Complexity Level Classification document on the website outlines some examples for each complexity level and provides guidance on when an AT assessment may be required. You can also refer to the Assistive Technology FAQs for more information.

Do I need assessments for purchasing AT?

If you have identified that you may need assistive technology (AT) during the planning process, your NDIS plan may include funding for an AT assessment. The assessment can assist you and the NDIA to understand what arethe most appropriate AT solutions to meet your goals.

The NDIS AT Complexity Level Classification document provides guidance on when an AT assessment may be required. Low cost, low risk items (Level 1) do not need a form to be sent into the NDIS. However you can seek advice (from an Independent Living Centre, AT assessor) to help you with purchasing low cost, low risk AT.

Complexity Levels 2, 3 and 4 AT typically require an appropriate assessment form to be completed by or with the oversight of an AT Assessor with suitable experience in that AT. Some AT will need greater consideration due to particular participant or environment issues.

Where can I buy Assistive Technology items as a participant?

For low cost, low risk items, the NDIA expects participants will often go to a local store or the internet to find suitable AT that meets their needs.

For more complex AT items participants may be referred to their own State/Territory government AT provider scheme to obtain a quote to help establish the reasonable and necessary funding level for the AT item.

Participants may also source quotes from other suppliers they know. The quotes are then supplied to the NDIA who make an assessment and set the budget available for that AT item. Once the budget is set by the NDIA, the participant can then purchase the item.

Do I need to get a quote prior to purchasing AT?

The NDIS Assistive Technology and Consumables Code Guide outlines when a quote may be required for your funded AT supports.

In general, supports over $1,000 in value will require a quote prior to supply, while lower cost items can be directly authorised (fixed price) through the myplace portal. The low cost, low risk AT (typically <$50) doesn’t require a quote if you are buying them with your Daily Adaptive Equipment funds (in your Core budget). You will find more information on AT for participants and providers on the Assistive Technology page of the website.

What do I do if my Assistive Technology (AT) supports need emergency repairs or replacement?

Your NDIS plan should include funds (under the Capital budget) to cover repairs and maintenance costs for your Assistive Technology (AT) supports which have been identified as reasonable and necessary. The NDIS AT and Consumable Code Guide lists commonly used AT and consumable supports, including repairs and maintenance supports.

In the first instance, you should direct your repair and maintenance requests to the provider who supplied the AT. In some cases where the item is relatively new you may be entitled to a replacement or repairs free of charge as part of your consumer rights to address any faults (see the ACCC website).

More information on Assistive Technology can be found on the Assistive Technology page of our website.

What do I do if my Assistive Technology (AT) supports need emergency repairs or replacement?

Your NDIS plan should include funds (under the Capital budget) to cover repairs and maintenance costs for your Assistive Technology (AT) supports which have been identified as reasonable and necessary. The NDIS AT and Consumable Code Guide lists commonly used AT and consumable supports, including repairs and maintenance supports.

In the first instance, you should direct your repair and maintenance requests to the provider who supplied the AT. In some cases where the item is relatively new you may be entitled to a replacement or repairs free of charge as part of your consumer rights to address any faults (see the ACCC website).

More information on Assistive Technology can be found on the Assistive Technology page of our website.

Can the NDIS help me to go to a concert?

If you are a participant, NDIS supports may be used to help you go to a concert but the support provided must assist you to pursue your goals, objectives and aspirations.

We call this type of NDIS support “recreation support”. You can read all about it in the Operational Guidelines on the NDIS website.

It is important the support relates to one or more of your goals. For example, developing greater social networks or greater inclusion in the community.

The NDIA will fund recreation supports relating to the participant’s disability, but it will not fund expenses ordinarily funded from a person’s income, which in this instance would be the cost of the concert ticket.

The NDIA may fund a support worker to assist you to prepare and participate in a recreational activity, such as a concert.

Can I use funding to get a personal trainer/gym membership to work on my teenage son’s gross motor skills?

As it is everyone’s choice to go to the gym, the NDIS will not fund gym memberships, however it may fund personal assistance to participate at a gym, for example changing into sports clothes, manipulating equipment and positioning the participant to undertake the activities.

The NDIS might also fund specialised sporting equipment or equipment modifications and assist the participant to travel to the gym, where it is not reasonable to expect the family or the community to provide transport, and where the participant is not able to independently use public transport.

The NDIS also assists organisations to adjust to the specific needs of their member/NDIS participant, where the adjustment is not part of their universal obligations under reasonable adjustment (for example, training for a team captain to assist his or her football team to adjust to the needs of a team member who has an intellectual impairment).

It’s important people understand, the NDIS will fund “recreation supports” only relating to the participant’s disability, not expenses ordinarily funded from a person’s income.

For more information, check out the Operational Guidelines on the NDIS website.

Is there an allowance for the upkeep of a modified vehicle i.e. rego, petrol, service etc. for a person with a disability where there are no other options for transport and the person with a disability needs the vehicle to reach the goals on the plan?

The costs associated with registration and service of a vehicle, and ongoing petrol costs are considered everyday living costs for ordinary Australians and are not specifically related to a participant’s disability.  They are therefore not funded by the NIDS as per part 5.1 (b) and (d) of the NDIS (Supports for Participants) Rules 2013.

NDIS will fund maintenance and repairs of the vehicle modifications as these are related solely and directly to a participants disability support needs.

What do we do with equipment funded by NDIS when we no longer need it?

If you have purchased equipment outright, there are services available in the community that will take used equipment and refurbish, reissue or recycle as appropriate. If the equipment is under a lease agreement, then it is up to you to arrange a return with the provider. These types of services vary between each state and territory so if you are unsure how to go about it, have a chat with a NDIS Local Area Coordinator (LAC) who will be able to connect you with services near you.

Would NDIS early intervention fund an iPad app? I already own an iPad. Our plan is all paid to the speech so there is no paperwork on my end.

Yes – if the app directly relates to your child’s support needs, and there is professional recommendation to evidence the app will be beneficial to support your child reaching his/her goals, the cost of an app can be funded by your ECEI plan. It is all about what is reasonable and necessary, which is why the NDIA requires evidence from an early childhood professional to ensure the app will assist your child’s functional outcomes. If you are unsure what is suitable, have a chat with your Early Childhood Partner.

Another thing to consider when purchasing something like an app is how you are managing your plan. If you have chosen for the Agency to manage your provider payments, the business where you purchase the app needs to be registered as a NDIS provider. There are a number of different ways you can manage your funding, including a mix of Agency-managed and self-managed. Find out more about options for managing your plan or again, bring this up with your Early Childhood Partner and find out what will be suit your needs.

My child has Autism and behavioural issues, and has destroyed furniture in the bedroom. Under the NDIS, can we modify the room to meet needs?

Where home modifications have been included in your plan, you need to first obtain an assessment to determine the most appropriate solution to address your needs from a suitable assessor of your choice.

The home modification would be considered by the NDIA on a case by case basis.

Check out the Assistive Technology FAQs about Home Modifications which provides information about the current arrangements for home modification supports under the NDIS and criteria for selecting an assessor. There is also handy info on the NDIS Assistive Technology page relating to home modification assessment.

Another helpful document is the Operational Guidelines on including specific types of supports – Home modifications which outlines broadly how the NDIA approaches home modification supports.

Can you buy weights blankets or pressure clothing with your NDIS funding?

All requests for equipment or assistive technology must meet the reasonable and necessary supports criteria. A request for a weighted blanket would be considered alongside any available evidence and research as to whether a weighted blanket would be effective and beneficial for the participant, having regards to current good practice.

Reasonable and necessary supports are designed to help you to reach your goals across different areas of your life, such as education, employment, social participation, living arrangements and your health and wellbeing. You can discuss this with your ECEI or LAC Partner or Service Provider. Rules made under the NDIS Act also tell us which supports will not be funded by the NDIS. You can read about what is and isn’t funded under reasonable and necessary on the NDIS website, or check out Section 34 of the NDIS Act (2013) (external) to find out more about the rules we operate by.

Why are some people having physiotherapy/occupational therapy/ other treatments included in their plans and others are not? I am not seeing consistency.

Your experience with the NDIS is totally unique to you and your circumstances. Every person living with a disability has very individual needs, and the NDIS is here to support you to achieve your goals. This means that no two plans will include the exact same support, no matter how similar the circumstance may seem. As you achieve your goals, you can expect that your own plan will also change over time.

Each NDIS plan is based on reasonable and necessary supports and choice and control. So your plan is based on your goals and aspirations, now and for the future. It covers your functional support needs for daily living and participation, and how you want to manage your plan over time.

We also have some great explanations on plans, supports and the NDIS on our YouTube channel.

How will the NDIS help to deliver Specialist Disability Accommodation?

This is a great question - Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) is housing that helps people with very complex needs to live as independently as possible. So this means that not everyone will qualify, and it all comes down to your individual needs. This will all be discussed in your planning meeting, and may include assessments to determine or verify the level of SDA support you need.

For eligible participants, SDA is considered a reasonable and necessary support to assist you in living in the right kind of housing, in a place where your support needs can be met effectively and efficiently, then funding can be included in your plan to help you find SDA.

SDA homes are like any other home, but are specially built or fully modified to suit the needs of the people who live there. This can be an apartment, a villa, a townhouse or a free standing house. It is important to note that the NDIS will not fund the building of a home but the funding in your plan covers the most of the costs of one being provided to you including ongoing costs such as maintenance. You will also be expected to make a reasonable rent contribution for living there, as does everyone else who rents their home.

If you are assessed as requiring SDA as a NDIS support and need assistance to find a home, the NDIS will help you. If there is no suitable SDA in your area, the NDIS can also work with you to find a solution to meet your accommodation needs.

For more information on accommodation, accessing support services and other options if SDA is not covered under your funding, read more on the NDIS website.

If my situation changes, can I apply to access new supports straight away?

We understand that situations change, whether it be a change in your level of support, your informal care arrangements or if you apply for, receive, or are entitled to compensation for injury.

We need to know if a change happens that affects your status as an NDIS participant or your plan.

There are two things you can do.

The change of circumstance form can be downloaded from our website and submitted:

Once submitted, we will get in contact to discuss how we can adjust your plan to make sure you are receiving the reasonable and necessary support you need.

What is the process to get bathroom modifications?

Where home modifications have been included in your plan, you need to first obtain an assessment to determine the most appropriate solution to address your needs from a suitable assessor of your choice. This assessment will include a quote from a registered licensed builder.

Check out the Assistive Technology FAQs about Home Modifications which provides information about the current arrangements for home modification supports under the NDIS and criteria for selecting an assesor. There is also handy info on the NDIS Assistive Technology page relating to home modification assessment.

Another helpful document is the Operational Guidelines on Including specific types of supports – Home modifications which outlines broadly how the NDIA approaches home modification supports.

Generally, it is expected home modification would only be considered where the home to be modified is the participant’s primary residence and the participant intends to remain living at the residence. If the property is a rental property, then the written agreement of the owner of the property will be required before any modifications take place. Public and community housing providers have a responsibility to offer ‘reasonable adjustment’ to their tenants. Complex home modification beyond those levels would be considered by the NDIA on a case by case basis.

Can study be funded as an NDIS plan goal?

If taking part in an education course of some kind is a goal in your NDIS plan, your plan will fund the additional supports that you need to reach that goal.

This means that if you have a disability that means you need things like help getting to class, or extra supports to take part in your studies (like assistive technology for your computer), these supports can be included in an NDIS plan.

The cost of the education itself – such as University, TAFE and continuing education courses – isn’t funded by an NDIS plan. This is because education is available to and paid for by the general public, and an NDIS plan is meant to bring down the barriers that people with disability face when trying to access those every day things like education.

What is SLES and how will it help me? How do I include it in my plan?

The School Leaver Employment Support (SLES) initiave is a new type of funding that helps school-leavers move from school to employment.

SLES is currently in trial in Tasmania and the ACT, and progressively being introduced to the rest of the country.

These supports are available within an NDIS plan for participants of school-leaving age. It is designed to help young adults get the skills, confidence and experience needed to move from school to a job.

Can my NDIS plan cover ASD swimming lessons?

Where there are barriers to you taking part in daily life and achieving your goals because of reasons directly relating to your disability, then the NDIA will consider supports that will help you have the same opportunities to reach your goals as everyone else has.

That means that if the swimming classes help you reach your goals of social particpation or independence, your NDIS plan might cover whatever extra supports you need so that you can take part in those lessons, but it won’t pay for swimming classes themselves.

The types of supports will vary in each plan, depending on the plan goals, the individual needs and the supports you need to reach your goals.

During your planning conversation, you (and your child, if that’s who you’re asking for) will identify your goals and the supports you need to achieve them. Sometimes this includes looking into mainstream and community supports, too.

In children’s plans, the NDIA considers what costs any parent is expected to cover in caring for their children. This would usually include things like housing, clothing, food, and opportunities for playing, doing activities outside school, and socialising. Parents are usually responsible for paying for sports, social or recreational activities for their children. As we said above, if your child requires additional supports on top of the cost of the classes, their NDIS plan might include those additional supports relating to their goals.

Will my son, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), be able to get a mental health plan to see the psychologist, and Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) for speech therapy, or do these have to be included in his plan?

Medicare benefits are available for children with autism to access a full or partial refund of the cost of a range of allied health services. These will still be available to your child, even if your child becomes a NDIS participant.

A GP can help a child with autism access three types of health supports:

Your GP can help you figure out what Medicare benefits are best for your child based on any health or mental health needs they might have.

Children with autism who are NDIS participants can also access funding in their plan to support goals that increase social participation and independence in daily life.

If you haven’t had your first NDIS planning conversation yet, you should start working with your son to think about his goals for the next year, and what supports he will need to achieve those goals. You will then be able to talk about your son’s particular needs in your first planning conversation.

During your planning conversation, you and your child will talk about what their goals are, and what supports they need to achieve those goals. This will include identifying appropriate supports that are available in your community and mainstream services, and any appropriate funded supports that your child needs to meet their goals.