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Blind and sight impaired

Visual impairment means when someone experiences some degree of sight loss which cannot be corrected by wearing glasses or contact lenses.

There are 2 categories of visual impairment:

  • moderate - where people have some vision
  • severe - where sight loss means that the person cannot carry out activities that require eyesight

You can find out more about visual impairment on NHS Choices.

Certificates of visual impairment

If an ophthalmologist determines you are eligible to be certified as sight impaired or severely sight impaired, they'll complete an official 'Certificate of Visual Impairment' (a CVI). You and your GP will each receive a copy of the certificate and a copy will be sent to us. When we receive the certificate, we'll contact you to ask whether you want to be added to our register of visually impaired people. We'll also arrange for an assessment to be carried out by our contracted provider.

Derbyshire Visual Impairment Rehabilitation, Information and Advice Service

If you have a visual impairment, you may find it more difficult to carry out day to day activities or get out and about. We have a contract with Sight Support Derbyshire to provide a rehabilitation and mobility service. Information days are delivered around the county offering support and information and Sight Support Derbyshire also co-ordinate and run a mobile resource service. For more information, please visit their website or tel: 01332 292262.

Sight Support Derbyshire can help people to:

  • regain or learn skills for independent living
  • make the best use of the vision they have
  • move safely and independently around their homes and outdoors
  • access advice on specialist equipment to manage letters, phone calls and face to face conversations
  • support to access social and leisure activities

Advice and support for children is provided separately. Please email or tel: 01332 287022.

Social care support

Derbyshire adult care can provide information and support for people who have sight impairments, or dual sensory loss. All adults in Derbyshire can access advice on:

For further information on support and services available locally, you can contact Call Derbyshire, email: or tel: 01629 533190.

If you feel you need more help, you may benefit from having an assessment of your needs. This means that a social worker or community care worker will contact you and arrange to visit to talk about your needs, and how they can best be met. If you're eligible for a service from us, we'll work with you to create a support plan that helps you achieve your goals and outcomes.

If you have problems with hearing as well as sight, known as 'dual sensory loss', then you can access further information and specialist technical sensory assessment from us.

Video versions of various fact sheets and leaflets are on our adult care YouTube playlist. As well as featuring British Sign Language and English Subtitles, the videos have voice over so cater for people with a sight impairment.

You can also find information and support to help you get out and involved with the community.

Advice during the COVID-19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 outbreak people who are blind or partially sighted may be struggling. To help, the RNIB have put together a range of coronavirus resources to assist.

The RNIB helpline has expanded its opening hours. It is now open on weekdays from 8am to 8pm and Saturdays from 9am to 5 pm. Tel: 0303 123 9999.

Services during the pandemic

Sight Support Derbyshire are continuing to provide telephone assessments during the COVID-19 pandemic, as face to face services have been restricted due to transmission risks. More face to face work, including home visits, will be available as national restrictions lift.

Guide Dogs

A COVID-19 information line is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm and gives advice about keeping independent and well during the outbreak. Tel: 0800 781 1444.

Eye health

If you have a sudden change in your vision or new symptoms contact your optician or eye doctor immediately. Do not ignore symptoms.


You can contact the Derbyshire Community Response Unit if you need help with shopping or other essential supplies and have no one to help you. Tel: 01629 535091.

Getting out and about

Although it can be difficult with social distancing it is important for your mental and physical health that you go outside and get exercise. If you don't live with someone who can guide you think about using a cane to alert people to your sight loss.

Keep connected

Link to the outside world as much as possible by talking to friends and family on Skype. There are many sight forums that are available too. You could join a talk and support group through the RNIB helpline or sign up to the keeping in touch call with guide dogs.

If you want to stay in touch with the latest development and information on COVID-19 listen to RNIB Connect radio, the UK’s radio station for blind and partially sighted people. It's also available on Freeview channel 730. Sight Support Derbyshire can also support you to access the Wireless for the Blind Scheme.

Visual Impairment Support 2021 Engagement Survey

We undertook a small-scale engagement exercise with members of Derbyshire’s visually impaired community between February and March 2021. Thank you to everyone who participated, and to all partners who supported us with this engagement exercise. We'll be using the findings to help inform the new service which will be re-procured in the summer of 2021.

The following is a summary of some responses to the engagement. A full report is attached to this page.

Information and advice

  • I learned the hard way from experience!
  • I can ring the sight support office for help with providing helpful aids, I can talk to the organisers of the Macular Society, I can ask questions at the hospital, the problem is I don't know what is available to ask all these people about
  • easy to read
  • the support worker advised on lighting and door entry
  • info is usually fairly accessible but I use a smartphone app to read things to me whether digital or on paper

Support and equipment

  • enables me to be confidently mobile outdoors and be able to read more easily. Support networks, especially Ushers Vibe and Deaf-initely Women hugely important
  • it's good to go to Macular meetings and meet people once a month (in normal times)
  • feel better in self; equipment helps me get out
  • equipment has helped me maintain my independence
  • my kitchen aids have allowed independence
  • equipment has lifted life from 4.5 out of 10 to 5 – they are semi-enabling

Additional equipment

  • visual recognition technology such as Orcam MyEye, and training for using visual aid technology, and advice regarding this
  • SSD does not have a shop. I need info on reviews of other VIPs' experiences
  • I purchased an iPhone and relevant apps but I wouldn't expect SSD to provide this, I am happy to pay for / contribute to smaller pieces of equipment
  • I'm not sure of what equipment is available or what might help me
  • although iPad and iPhone are not specialist equipment they are vital for me to be able to communicate with everyone and run my life

Useful aspects of the support offer

  • being able to contact someone easily; monthly newsletter is good; been great for maintaining contact fortnightly.
  • psychological support – 2 people have been to see me and both aware of the issues faced; both been empathetic and supportive
  • visits and advice very useful
  • fact you can just phone with any little query – they're helpful
  • the tech days are very useful as it allowed me to find out about equipment and software to help me manage tasks I'd struggled with for years
  • I enjoyed the social group that was running in Matlock for visually impaired people and meeting other vis impaired people and making new friends was a great support
  • I would rate Sight Support highly
  • useful to have a line of contact through Sight Support in case of problems or just keeping up to date
  • communication – being able to find out what's available and where, if nobody tells you, you don't know. Information
  • have good info for a range of visual impairment levels – personalised to person’s needs
  • when I've rung SSD they are very helpful and knowledgeable

Less useful aspects of the support offer

  • finding them in the first place
  • SSD knowledge on newer technology and aids is not as good as RNIBs, the guy who ran the mobile van had some knowledge but RNIB are better, SSD don't keep on top so much but will research things if you have a particular issue
  • not knowing what aids are available so not knowing what to ask about
  • I need more access to news and to know what’s going on
  • I get the Sight Support newsletter which is interesting but has no relevance for people in rural areas
  • I can’t answer this until someone explains what VI support offer is
  • there are no social facilities for visually impaired people that actively work

Improving the support offer

  • more meetings held locally; meeting people for pleasure
  • too long between asking for help and receiving it – like instructions on how to use new equipment, using walking aids – the help was good
  • meetings in Matlock – little outside Derby City, events tend to happen in Derby and no funding for transport to get there
  • more activities - access to suitable one to one support and small groups for deaf/blind people needed
  • I used to get a memory stick with the newspaper on it but that doesn’t happen any more, would like more communication, very lonely
  • more regular contact – more practical help
  • physical presence of skilled people coming to visit, equipment is useful
  • offering lessons in accessing IT and the web
  • perhaps to be contacted say once a year to be informed of new aids on the market and shown what they are like and what they provide
  • more advertising – people need to be made more aware of it - only aware of it from the eye clinic
  • would be useful to have info found in GP surgery, local libraries and even supermarket