Most of us will experience some sight loss as we age. Having a visual impairment can cause difficulties in your daily life. But there are many products that can make your life easier and help you live independently.
Types of equipment
If you’re living with sight loss, there’s a wide range of products and equipment to help you at home. Some involve sophisticated technology. There are also some very simple solutions to everyday problems. For example, you can get talking gadgets and aids that help you keep time, find and identify things, and support your health and wellbeing. Some examples include:
- different types of magnifiers, from small handheld lenses to desktop video magnifiers
- special gloves, grips, handles and oven shelf guards that help to prevent spills and burns in the kitchen
- talking clocks and alarms
- audio markers, tactile markers and raised bumps for labelling things, such as the controls on your washing machine and objects in your cupboards
- colour and light detectors to help you distinguish different colours and intensity of light
- text-to-speech devices, such as DAISY players and USB players, screen readers and scanner reading machines
- talking blood pressure monitors and thermometers, pill organisers, eye drop dispensers, canes and mobility aids.
You could consider getting a smart speaker. You can connect this to several different devices to let you control them with your voice. They also let you access the internet using voice input and audio feedback. For more information, see our factsheet Technology to help you at home.
You can get more information about the different types of equipment from RNIB and the Thomas Pocklington Trust.
Many people are affected by both sight and hearing loss in later life. This is called deafblindness. Contact Deafblind UK or Sense for more information about products and equipment that could help you.
You can ask your local council if they offer a vision rehabilitation service. This is training and advice to help you adapt to sight loss, live independently and develop or regain skills. Find contact details for your local council on Gov.uk.
If you’re living with both sight and hearing loss, you’re entitled to a specialist assessment from your council. This should involve an expert in deafblindness.
If you are blind or partially sighted, you may be able to register this as a disability. This allows you to claim certain concessions, such as help with NHS costs and leisure discounts. If you are severely sight impaired, you can apply for a half price TV licence. You should get referred to an eye specialist. They will decide if you can be certified and provide you with a certificate of visual impairment (CVI). You can then register with your local social services team, who should contact you once you’ve been certified.
You may be able to get some equipment on loan or free. Low vision clinics and hospital eye departments may offer small aids, such as magnifiers, on a long-term loan basis. If you meet their criteria, British Wireless for the Blind provides specially adapted radios, CD radio cassette recorders and an internet audio player on free loan.
RNIB has a technology resource hub with information about different types of assistive technology and products that can help you.
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