COVID-19 has changed the way some supports are delivered, with technology enabling support continuity through telehealth, video conferencing and other technologies.
In recognition of this, the flexible approach to purchasing low cost AT will continue and be monitored as participants and providers adapt to COVID normal.
The flexible approach introduced during the pandemic allowed participants to spend up to $1,500 on low cost AT items, such as smart devices and fitness equipment, in consultation with their existing support providers.
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, think how this flexible approach may help you to continue services safely if physical distancing is required. We recommend participants, their families and carers work with their existing providers to discuss the best way to receive services and supports or do everyday activities.
This may include:
- using available technology
- developing exercise programs participants can do at home
- borrowing equipment
- keeping in touch online or over the phone.
What is low cost AT?
Participants are able to spend up to $1500 on low cost AT items from their existing budgets. Participants should not spend more than $750 on electronic devices needed to maintain existing services.
Participants can use their existing NDIS funding to purchase an item if all of the following conditions are met:
- it will maintain or improve delivery of funded NDIS supports like a program, therapy or requirement (for example physiotherapy or Auslan interpreting provided via video conferencing)
- the provider of supports has confirmed in writing the device is necessary to continue supports and services while maintaining physical distancing and other health requirements as advised by government
- it is the lowest specification that will maintain funded supports
- they do not already have the item, another suitable item or access to the item
- the item has not been funded by another organisation
- the item or circumstances are not specifically excluded.
Participants are advised that if a standard tablet computer or iPad is required to participate in online video classes, these should generally cost no more than $600.
Low cost AT in your plan budget
Participants can use their funding flexibly to purchase low cost AT using funding in their Core - Consumables budget.
Plan-managed or self-managed participants can purchase these items from any provider.
NDIA-managed participants can purchase these from any NDIS provider registered to deliver the relevant AT supports.
We know not all participants have funding allocated in their Core budget for consumables. Following a change made in 2020, participants can use their Core budget more flexibly, including to purchase low cost AT under the consumables category.
Some participants only have funding in their Capacity Building budget, for example those who are part of the Early Childhood Early Intervention program. Participants are able to use the Low Cost AT – to support Capacity Building support delivery line item to purchase this low cost AT.
Participants should use their plan wisely for all of their support needs. The NDIA will not increase plan values to accommodate the purchase of a device under this policy.
For more information on the above items, refer to the coronavirus (COVID-19) - Using your budget FAQs for participants.
What is excluded from this policy?
The following items and circumstances are excluded from the flexible low cost AT policy:
- items that do not relate to the participant’s disability
- items with extra specifications above the basic model
- smart phones, tablets or iPads with mobile-only 3G, 4G or 5G connections (though you can upgrade from a wifi only device to one of these devices using your own money)
- the purchase of multiple devices for the same participant
- internet connection and data, these are considered ordinary living costs (utilities)
- applications (apps) or software. Apps which have been specified and approved in a plan can be paid for with NDIS funding
- additional hardware or accessories, other than standard protective cases
- additional hardware and accessories may be purchased if they relate to using the device because of the participant’s disability, such as wheelchair mounting for a person with limited grip.
Replacements for loss or damage will generally follow the existing AT replacement policy
Replacement of items would generally only apply where the existing device is no longer suitable to meet the participant's needs at that time. It does not include upgrade because a new model or version is released.