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Best way to use NDIS funding for communication aids?

Updated: Oct 28, 2022

Not sure of what the term communication aid entails and how to use the available funds within your NDIS plan to purchase these devices? You’re not alone. Many of our clients are not sure either, so we have compiled this helpful guide for you.

So, what are Communication Aids

These are devices or instruments that may help an individual to communicate more effectively. Terms such as augmentative or alternative communication aids or AAC are used commonly to refer to communication aids.

Types of Communication Aids

These devices or instruments may be as simple as a chart, book or a board with photos, words or alphabets or it can extend to a more sophisticated electronic device that may be used to do more complex functions integrating, assisting and/or making you more independent in your day-to-day life.

NDIS rules and planning for funding of AAC devices

Communication devices or AAC, are proven to be an essential tool or an equipment in building independence for people with disabilities, and can be funded by NDIS as long as it fits the reasonable and necessary criteria.

Usually most simple communication aids that can normally be used to assist the day-to-day activities, fall within level 1 and level 2 category of assistive technology. There is a simple easy read English guidance booklet available from NDIA website which can be obtained from here -

Do I need an Assessment for funds to be allocated within my NDIS Plan?

You do not need an assessment for simple AAC that may fall under level 1 and 2 Assistive technology group. However, you may seek help from an assessor to find what you need and guidance on setting it up and using it properly. These assessors can be an Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Speech Pathologist or Psychologist.

While planning for your NDIS plan meeting, it is essential to think about your assistive technology needs, discuss them with your support coordinator or Local Area Coordinator so that you can share these with your NDIS planner on the meeting day.

What funds from your NDIS plan be used to pay for the communication aids

There are two different categories within your plan that can be used to purchase items or equipment relating to your disability needs and there is a lot of confusion around which category to be used for which items. These two categories are as below -

1. Core support budget: Consumable subcategory

2. Capital support budget: Assistive Technology subcategory

Both above categories can be used to pay for items for day-to-day disability needs however there are certain rules that apply to each category. Let’s demystify and have a closer look at these two categories in order to understand which one is best suited for AAC items -

1. Core Supports budget: Consumables (subcategory – 03)

If consumable is stated as a subcategory within the core budget of your NDIS plan, you may not require a quote or a sperate NDIS approval to purchase items. Some items purchased under this category can be usedunder the guidance of a qualified assessor. This category can only be used to purchase items for -

1. Your continence needs - disposable pants, pads, gels, lubricants or liners for continence) or

2. equipment relating to eating or drinking aids (home enteral nutrition products also referred to as HEN equipment) .

The items purchased from consumable budget can help you manage problems with –

1. Human Waste Discharge (Simple words - Weeing, Pooing)

2. Using the Toilet

3. Equipment relating to drinking and eating (HEN Equipment)

The consumable category may not be appropriate to buy items or equipment that may be utilised for communication aids.

2. Capital Supports budget: Assistive Technology (subcategory – 05)

This funding can be used to purchase simple to highly specialized products, including items relating to your communication aids or any other technology that can assist with your independence. NDIS categorises Assistive technology in to four different levels:

1. Level 1 & 2 –

· Low Cost - Costing up to $1500 per item.

· Simple equipment

· Not requiring assessment,

· No quote

· No approval by NDIS

2. Level 3 –

· Mid Cost – Costing $1500 to $5000

· More specialised (high-tech) equipment

· requiring assessment,

· Requiring quotation

· Approval by NDIS

3. Level 4 –

· High Cost – Costing $5000 or more

· More specialised (high-tech) equipment

· requiring assessment,

· Requiring quotation

· Approval by NDIS

With Assistive Technology, for some items it’s best to buy them. For other items, it might be better to rent or borrow them if your needs are likely to change.

AAC items purchased from Assistive Technology budgetcan range fromsomethingvery simple to highly complex assistive devices,helping you Talk and Communicate more easily and make you more independent in the below areas:

1. Communication

2. Vision

3. Hearing

4. Speech

If you are self-managing or plan managing your NDIS plan, the payment of funds for such aids and equipment are lot easier and faster. These are the items that you may purchase from stores either online or from an outlet and may not require a service agreement to be signed however it is a requirement to have a tax invoice or a bill as perNDIS record keeping criteria and also as a proof of purchase in case of a warranty claim.

Modes of payment for these devices?

Self-Managed –

1. You may wish to pay for the price of the item using your own money either by cash or bank card (just as you purchase items from shops).

2. You must save the invoice for record keeping or warranty claim (if needs replacing).

3. Claim the Invoice amount you paid for the item, from NDIS portal.

Plan Managed –

1. You may wish to pay for the price of the item using your own money either by cash or bank card (just as you purchase items from shops).

2. You must save the tax invoice to be forwarded to your plan manager for claiming the funds from NDIS Portal

3. You may wish to keep a copy for your own record keeping or warranty claim (if needs replacing).

4. Plan Manager makes the claim and transfers the funds over to your bank account.

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