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People experiencing sight loss have differing needs that may change as they progress through life and sometimes support may be required before they become registered as Partially Sighted or Blind.
If you are experiencing difficulties with day to day activities because your sight has diminished, you are entitled to a community care assessment whether you are registered Blind/Partially Sighted or not.
Following an assessment, a Rehabilitation Worker can provide support for your eligible needs, which may include:
In addition to this, the Rehabilitation Officer has a broad knowledge of relevant agencies and charities at both a local and national level which they can help you to contact.
If you have been examined by your hospital consultant ophthalmologist and considered eligible to be registered blind, you could still have considerable residual vision and may not understand why you are being recommended for registration.
People often think that someone who is 'registered blind' has no vision whatsoever. The fact is that only 5% of people registered blind have no useful or residual vision.
For the majority, being registered as blind/partially sighted means that their vision has deteriorated to the point that their residual vision is such that everyday tasks and activities present substantial difficulties. If the consultant ophthalmologist considers your sight to have diminished to the point that registration as blind or partially sighted is appropriate, they will complete a Certificate of Visual Impairment. A copy of this is sent to adult social care.
We have a legal responsibility to keep a register of all people who are blind or partially sighted and living in our area. If adult social care receive a Certificate of Visual Impairment for you, a worker from the department will contact you to enquire if you are happy to be registered. This is purely voluntary and if you decline registration this does not stop you from receiving an assessment. However, some benefits and services provided by other agencies are only available to people who are registered.
If you have a visual impairment and still have some useful residual vision, Rehabilitation Workers can support you to make the best possible use of the vision you have.
This may involve introducing new techniques or specialist equipment which enables you to re-learn how to do everyday tasks, for example, making a hot drink or meal, with minimal risks, so maintaining or retaining your independence.
If you have no vision, Rehabilitation Workers can support you to retain your independence and maintain daily living tasks more safely with new techniques and specialist equipment.
If you find getting around safely is difficult, your confidence could become low and you may fear going outdoors, this can quickly lead to isolation. Mobility training may involve teaching you new techniques or adapting familiar ways of doing things, for example the use of canes and residual vision to develop skills to get around safely, independently and confidently.
We can also teach friends, colleagues and family members about sighted guide techniques to help them support you.
As part of the assessment and training process the Rehabilitation Worker will be able to help you identify equipment that may support you to remain safe and independent and promote social inclusion.
Examples of frequently provided items include:
The range of assistive equipment is growing all the time as technology develops.
If you have a visual impairment, reading and writing can sometimes be difficult. Residual vision assistive aids and guidance on how to use equipment can enable you to achieve the best results for yourself.
A small number of optometrists within Derby have been appointed by the Health Authority to provide Low Vision Aids assessments. An assessment may result in magnifiers, task lighting and other aids being provided to assist with reading and writing.
There is a range of large print literature available from local libraries and bookshops. If print is not accessible, talking books and newspapers are available. Some people also learn tactile methods of reading, such as Braille.
Utility companies and banks are required to make their services more accessible. Many now provide bills and statements in large print and personal account details can be accessed via a telephone call and call back facility.
When writing, using colour contrast and a bold pen is advisable - it is good to experiment and find the best pen/marker for you. In addition to this, writing guides could help you maintain straight lines and good lighting is beneficial. A Rehabilitation Worker may suggest a low vision aids assessment for you.
Telephone communication can be supported by the provision of a large button telephone with a memory facility for regularly dialled numbers. This equipment is available in high street shops and from the Royal National Institute of the Blind.
BT offers a free directory enquiry service for people who cannot use the telephone directory.
For details of other organisations that can support you, download a copy of our Useful contacts for people with a visual impairment.