What Is SDA?

Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) is a range of housing designed for people with extreme functional impairment or very high needs. It aims to make accessing supports easier.

SDA usually involves a shared home with a small number of other people. You might also be able to live in SDA by yourself if that option best meets your needs and circumstances.

SDA funding includes the cost of the home or building you live in. Usually, you’ll still need to pay rent or other personal costs to live in SDA. It doesn’t include the services or support you might get in your home.

SDA Eligibility

Most Participants do not need to live in these types of dwellings. People who live in SDA have extremely high needs and need to live in very specialised homes, usually with high levels of person-to-person support. If you have a home and living goal, we’ll help you explore your options to pursue this goal.

For more information about SDA eligibility and funding, go to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Website.

SDA Design Standard

The SDA Design Standard is a detailed set of requirements for all new specialist disability accommodation that covers four categories of SDA design:

  • Improved Liveability
  • Robust
  • Fully Accessible
  • High Physical Support

In addition to the Design Standard, SDA must also comply with the Australian National Construction Code.

These combined requirements are in place to ensure that you can safely access high quality, well-maintained SDA that meets your needs.

The categories of SDA design are explained in more detail below.

Improved Liveability

Homes designed for Improved Liveability help provide a reasonable level of physical access for people living with sensory, intellectual or cognitive needs.

These homes are designed to help residents live safely and independently. Features like luminance contrasts, easy navigation and lines of sight, light-based doorbells and alarms and hearing augmentation can be helpful for residents with sensory needs. Those with intellectual and cognitive needs might benefit from labelling, the use of contextual cues, increased lines of sight, consistency in locations of fittings and fixtures
and reduced lighting and stimuli.

Designed to fit in with the neighbourhood and offering plenty of opportunities for outdoor and social enjoyment, Improved Liveability homes support the particular needs of the residents and give them a home they can make their own.


Resilient and sturdy, the Robust home is built to accommodate and support people with complex needs.

A priority of this design is to keep residents and carers safe. High impact wall lining, fittings and fixtures, secure windows, doors and external areas, laminated glass and soundproofing, and spaces for residents or carers to retreat, are all features that can be included to help create a safe, accessible and manageable home.

Durable but inconspicuous materials are used so the home fits in with the surrounding neighbourhood and is strong enough not to require constant maintenance.

Fully Accessible

A high level of physical access is the priority for Fully Accessible houses which are designed for residents living with physical disabilities. Wheelchair accessibility plays a vital role and amenities are designed to make using them as straightforward as possible. For example, bathroom vanities, kitchen sinks and benches, cooktops, dishwashers, ovens, washing machines and dryers can all be used in either a standing or seated position. Assistive technology and some automated functions can be helpful here also.

Fully Accessible homes support the needs of residents and empower people to function safely and easily in their own home.

High Physical Support

High Physical Support homes are designed to support residents with significant physical needs who require a high level of support. These homes have the features of the Fully Accessible home along with extra structural provisions for things like ceiling hoists and 950mm clear opening width doors to habitable rooms. Assistive technology can play at important role in this kind of home with emergency power solutions being especially critical where the welfare of residents is at risk.

As with the other categories, access to outdoor areas and designing a house that fits in with the rest of the neighbourhood are essential to creating a satisfying home life for residents.