How to use NDIS funding for your communication aids

Did you know that there are many ways to get communication aids to support your goals?

You might have funding available already in your NDIS plan, or you might need to ask for some. Communication aids are an important part of helping everyone to get their message across, as part of what’s known as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).

It’s important to think about your assistive technology needs and discuss them with your NDIS planner.

Here, we talk about how you might use your funding and give you some planning tips for your communication support needs.

Core Supports budget: Consumables subcategory

You don’t need a quote or approval from the NDIS to use this funding. If you are self-managed or plan managed, you don’t need to sign a service agreement either. It’s just like buying an item from a shop.

You can use this funding for low risk AAC that is low cost, up to $1500 per item. You can use the funding flexibly. For example, you might not use all your community access funding, so you can use some of what remains to pay for your communication aids. Check with your planner to ensure you have enough in your core support budget to cover all your core needs!

A set of 6 community request cards attached to a ring. Visible on the top are a card for ordering coffee, a card for buying public transport tickets and a card for buying a movie ticket.

Examples include paper based or non-electronic communication aids, such as:

  • Community request cards
  • Social stories
  • Communication books and boards

You can also use this budget to trial more expensive and complex Assistive Technology.

Capital Supports budget: Assistive Technology subcategory

This funding category is for highly customised items, like dedicated communication devices. High tech or electronic AAC are examples of items to purchase. It is best to fund PODD communication books from this category as they are complex and robust language systems.

Your planner can include AAC priced between $1500-$5000. They can include this funding before you complete a more detailed assessment, or to trial the equipment first.

You can use it right away for items recommended by a suitably qualified allied health therapist, like a speech-language pathologist.

You don’t need to show this recommendation to the NDIS, unless you are asked to in the future. You don’t need to provide a quote either.

Items over $5000 always need a quote and a report from your therapist.

Not sure which communication aids you need?

Discuss with your NDIS planner

If you don’t have Capital Supports funding and you can’t use your Core Supports funding flexibly, contact your planner or Local Area Coordinator/ECEI coordinator and ask for a review to get the funding you need. You may be able to complete an unscheduled review.

Plan renewals

The NDIS is trying to make the planning process easier for everyone. They offer plan renewals to participants. This means you can get the same amount of funding as you had at the start of your previous plan, and your participant statement and goals will stay the same.

It’s a good idea to start thinking about your next plan to decide if you want a plan renewal, or if you’d like to request more funding for new AAC, or more therapy to support your existing AAC.

Start preparing for your next plan with Scope’s Planning Tool.

Request a plan review

Remember, you can always ask for the full plan review at the end of your current plan. Don’t feel like you must have a plan renewal if you need more or different funding. It’s okay to tell the NDIS you want to think about it, or you want to talk to someone else before deciding.

Use your allied health funding

The NDIS knows you might need assistance from a specialist to get the right AAC for you.

Planners now include additional allied health funding (at least $500) when you have funding in your plan for assistive technology (including AAC). This can give you about 2 ½ hours of therapy time. You could use this funding for a consult with a Speech Pathologist at NECAS that specialises in AAC to help determine the most appropriate AAC for you.

Repairs and maintenance of your AAC

No matter what AAC system you use, there might be times where it needs repairs or you need some minor updates to it. This might include replacing lost cards for a visual timetable or getting a new battery in a Speech Generating Device. You can either use Core Supports funding or Capital Supports funding for these repairs.