HOW THE NDIS FUNDS IPADS, SMARTWATCHES AND OTHER TECH
‘Can I get an iPad funded by the NDIS?’ – this is a question we’re frequently asked at Plan Partners, Australia's leading expert in Plan Management and Support Coordination.
Tablets and other modern devices such as smartphones, smartwatches, home automation devices and headphones can make life a lot easier for many people with a disability. But can they be funded by the NDIS, and if so, how do you go about getting them funded?
TABLETS and SMARTPHONES
iPads, iPhones and other tablets and smartphones - these are at the top of the list when it comes to questions from customers – but that’s not the only reason we’ve grouped them together here. Unfortunately, the NDIS continually tells us that it will generally not fund tablets or smartphones, as they are considered everyday items.
But while the devices themselves might not be funded, the apps that you use on them can be, providing they relate to your support needs or the goals in your NDIS plan. There are some fantastic apps out there that are changing lives for people with a disability, like Articulation Station, which helps children learn to pronounce words, and social skills developer, Let’s Be Social. So be sure to do some research online and see if there’s an app that might help you.
Smartwatches often come loaded with features that can assist NDIS participants, like the new Apple Watch’s ability to detect falls. Similar to tablets and smartphones, the NDIS considers smartwatches to be mainstream technology and generally won't fund them. However, if a feature tied to your support needs is built in to the watch itself and not available as an app, the NDIS might fund it fully. Given the watch could be a cheaper alternative to specialised services, like alarm monitoring, it offers value for money and could therefore be considered reasonable and necessary under the NDIS guidelines.
For the vision impaired or those with severe mobility issues, home automation can create a level of independence and freedom previously only possible with a support worker. Smart speakers, such as Google Home or Amazon Echo, can be operated remotely using voice commands and are even capable of announcing the news and controlling lights and appliances throughout the house. The NDIS considers these everyday items and generally won't fund them, but because of their many benefits and value for money offered, we have seen cases of them being funded when the participant was able to tie them back to their support needs and NDIS goals.
NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES
Noise cancelling headphones can be used by people with autism to reduce sensory overload. While the NDIS can fund them in this case, the headphones must offer value for money – so the NDIS are unlikely to approve a premium brand if a cheaper product will do the same job.
How the NDIS funds tech devices
So if you can clearly relate the benefits of a tech device or app to your support needs or NDIS goals, it is possible they could be funded by the NDIS. It will likely come out of your Consumables / Daily Adaptive Equipment budget, which is part of the Core budget in your NDIS plan. There are several ways to purchase the items, including asking your service provider to send the invoice to your Plan Manager. However, as you most probably purchase the apps and tech devices online, the best way to go is paying it yourself and seek reimbursement:
- purchase the device or app
- make sure you receive an invoice
- submit your invoice to the NDIS or to your Plan Manager
- request a reimbursement of the cost out of your Core budget
If you need the app or device as part of your therapy, you can also request your therapist to purchase it and invoice it as part of their services.
Don’t have enough budget in the Daily Adaptive Equipment budget? Because it’s part of your flexible Core budget, you could use your funds in categories 1, 3 and 4.
Please note that Daily Adaptive Equipment usually only funds simple, low cost equipment. For all the more complicated equipment and technology, the NDIS has a different category, called Assistive Technology. This blog explains the difference between the two.
Each situation is different
Everyone’s situation is different and everyone’s needs and goals are different too. On top of this, technology moves quickly, and the NDIA’s position on emerging technology can sometimes vary from case to case.
As with all disability supports, the key thing to remember is whether the tech device or app can be considered ‘reasonable and necessary’ and related to the goals in your NDIS plan. Read more about this here.
- As each situation is different, make sure you clarify clearly why you need a certain device or app and tie everything back to the goals and needs described in your NDIS plan
- While smartphones and tablets generally aren’t funded, apps that directly relate to a support need or NDIS goal can be.
- The NDIS won’t fund the purchase of an iTunes or Google Play gift card, so be sure to buy apps directly.
- Smartwatches with built-in features that relate to your support needs or NDIS goals, such as fall detection can be funded.
- The NDIS is unlikely to fund any premium tech products if a cheaper alternative will do a similar job.
If you have any questions about how you can access technology under your NDIS plan, our friendly team is here to help.
This is the seventh article in our ‘Making the NDIS work for you’ series, in which we tackle how the NDIS funds all kinds of supports. Read the other articles here:
- Playing sport
- Meal preparation and delivery
- Gardening, cleaning and home maintenance
- Equipment and Assistive Technology
- Finding and keeping a job
- Sex therapy and family planning
Do you want to know more about each of the 15 Support Categories of an NDIS plan? Our handy Understanding Your NDIS Plan page explains it all.
Plan Partners is Australia's leading expert in NDIS Plan Management and Support Coordination, supporting thousands of people all over Australia bringing their NDIS plan to life - and we can help you too.