Hearing and vision impairment

Find out about the support or equipment you could access to help you retain independence if you have a sensory need.

We can help you receive support and equipment to help you retain independence if you have a sensory need.

This includes:

  • people who are Deaf/deafened, have a hearing impairment or hearing loss
  • people with a vision impairment or loss
  • people with a dual sensory loss
Requesting help and support

If you think you might benefit from social care support, you can:

  • contact us to ask for a social care needs assessment that will help us provide you with the right type of care and support

The equipment provided to you would depend on your personal needs. We do not normally provide equipment that people would normally be expected to provide for themselves, for example, telephones. 


Harrogate Deaf Café

When: Every second Thursday of every month between 2pm and 4pm.

Where: Harrogate Library.

Resource Centre for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing

When: Every Wednesday between 2pm and 4pm.

Where: Harrogate and Ripon Centre for Voluntary Services, 46-50 East Parade, Harrogate, HG1 5RR.

Scarborough Deaf Club

When: Every first Monday of every month between 10am and 1pm

Where: Westborough Methodist Church, Westborough, Scarborough, YO11 1TS


Harrogate Vision Centre

23 East Parade, Harrogate, HG1 5LF, Tel: 01423 565915

Yorkshire Coast Sight Support

183 Dean Road Scarborough YO12 7JH, Tel: 01723 354417

Selby District Vision

Prospect Centre, Prospect Way, Selby YO8 8BD, Tel: 01757 709800

Sight Support Ryedale

Norton Hive Community Library, Commercial Street, Norton, North Yorkshire YO17 9ES, Tel: 01653 698860

Sight Airedale

31 Scott Street, Keighley, West Yorkshire, BD21 2JH, Tel: 01535 602354

Mysight York

4 Merchant Place, Merchantgate, York, YO1 9TU, Tel: 01904 636269

Teesside and District Society for the Blind

Stockton Road, Middlesbrough, TS5 4AH, 01642 247518

What we offer

British Sign Language (BSL)

Our sensory social workers and the rest of the Sensory Team understand that British Sign Language (BSL) is the preferred language of the Deaf Community. At least 150,000 people in the UK use BSL. Deaf BSL users refer to themselves as Deaf spelled with a capital “D” because they are part of a cultural community. Not all deaf people use British Sign language so it is important you ask how a person prefers to communicate.

A sensory social worker is suitably qualified to carry out assessments for people who are Deaf/deafened/hard of hearing and Deafblind. They signpost / refer to other teams or services where appropriate. They can provide awareness training to benefit the person and offer support and advice to family members and carers.

Following an assessment sensory social workers can  provide or arrange a service to meet a person’s needs.

This may include help with:

  • mental health problems
  • using local community services
  • managing practical daily living
  • making decisions and keeping safe
  • overcoming communication barriers
  • work and/or education
  • social isolation
  • provision of equipment

Hearing and vision impairment for children and young people

We support children and young people with hearing or vision impairment through a network of support services. 

We have a specialist education service available to children with a hearing or vision impairment. Our special educational needs and disabilities section has more information.

Support for people with a dual sensory loss (deafblind)

'Deafblind' means people who have a combined vision and hearing impairment.

We have a specially trained team who can offer an assessment and services to people with a dual sensory loss. Dependent on the assessment outcome an element of that support could also include equipment.

The services provided will depend on the needs of the individual but will include helping a person to:

  • manage communication with other people, for example, at the bank, in shops, on the telephone
  • use information, for example, to deal with letters or bank statements
  • get out and about in order to be more independent

North Yorkshire’s Communicator Guides support people with a dual sensory loss to reduce their challenges with communication, accessing information and mobility. They can provide awareness training to benefit the person and offer support and advice to family members and carers.

Registration certificate of visual impairment

If you have been diagnosed with a vision loss, we receive notification of this through a certificate of vision impairment.

We keep a register of these certificates and offer an assessment to people that become part of that register. You do not need to be registered to access support from the Sensory Team.

If you decide you could benefit from a social care needs assessment following your registration, you can also make use of our vision rehabilitation service. This can help you to develop skills and confidence in maintaining or rediscovering some independence, both at home and in the community.

Rehabilitation officers for visual impairment  provide vision rehabilitation  to enable/re-able a person who is visually impaired learn new skills to live with their sight loss.

They offer:

  • orientation and mobility training inside and outside the home
  • Independent Living Skills training to enable independence and safety, including food preparation.
  • communication skills to enable access to information, bills, finances and more. This can include use of technology and phones
  • low vision therapy to maximise visual skills
  • awareness training to benefit the person where required, and offer support and advice to family members and carers

This service is usually provided to enable people to become as independent as possible before we would consider any need for long-term support in response to vision loss.

Common solutions for hearing impairment problems

Hearing conversations in a room

If you experience difficulty hearing people talking in the same room then you may benefit from a loop system in your home.

A loop system is designed to assist a person with a hearing aid to hear more clearly in a room by switching their hearing aid to the 'T' position.

The sound heard will be clearer and free from distracting background sounds and room echoes that get in the way.

Loops can be used in the home and found at counters in public places.

Hearing the alarm clock

Alarm clocks for people who are deaf alert you by vibrating or producing a flashing light. Many have a sound alarm as well, a feature which can be useful if you have a partner who is hearing.

Hearing the door bell

There are various types of doorbells available to buy, including loud extension bells, doorbells that make your table lamp flash and doorbells that flash or dim the house lights.

Hearing people in meetings or classrooms

An alternative to the loop system could be an infra-red system. This is a wireless assistive listening system that can be used to better hear what is being said in meetings, classrooms, workshops, and other situations.

Using the telephone

There are a variety of places and organisations that sell specially adapted telephone handsets for people who are hard of hearing. Such facilities on a specially adapted phone might include a flashing light when the phone rings, compatibility with hearing aids, an adjustable ringer volume and speech amplification.  Also look for the accessible settings on your smartphones which can be set to meet your sensory needs.

There are many businesses that sell a variety of equipment that could alert you to environmental sounds around your home.

Common solutions for vision loss

Glare from the sun

If the glare from the sun causes you problems, possible solutions include:

  • anti-glare glasses which come in various shades to suit different eye conditions
  • using a peaked cap or a hat with a brim


  • go to 'Accessible Settings' on your smartphone and adjust them to meet your sensory needs

Overfilling your cup

If you often overfill your cup, possible solutions include:

  • improved lighting in your kitchen area
  • use of colour contrast between cup and drink to aid vision
  • liquid level indicator that provides an audible sound when the level in your cup is nearing the top
  • using different pouring techniques to prevent spillages

Reading the mail

If you have difficulty reading your mail, possible solutions include:

  • a fluorescent angle poised lamp to provide improved lighting around your reading area 
  • low vision aids - magnifiers, Eezee Readers and CCTVs
  • typoscopes
  • using a reading stand to improve your reading position and posture

Additionally, you could ask your bank or utility companies to provide bills and statements in large print. Also, some local organisations have volunteers that may help.

Setting various dials in your home

If you have difficulty setting various dials in your home, such as the heating, possible solutions include: 

  • having improved lighting in your kitchen area
  • using low vision aids such as magnifiers to help you view the dials easier
  • marking the dials with 'bump-ons', 'hi-mark' or other permanent markers
  • using clock face references as a guide to set dial position 

Telling the time

If you have difficulty telling the time, possible solutions include:

  • 'easy to see' watches or clocks where the numbers and hands are bigger and bolder than traditional timepieces and the contrast on their faces is better
  • talking watches or clocks that tell you the time when you press a button

Weighing ingredients for baking

If you cannot accurately weigh ingredients for baking, possible solutions include:

  • talking kitchen scales which tell you how much of an ingredient you have put in the bowl
  • traditional balance scales which use individual weights
  • standard measuring cups or yoghurt pots for dry ingredients

Writing a shopping list

If you have difficulty writing your shopping list, possible solutions include: 

  • fluorescent angle poised lamps
  • low vision aids like magnifiers and CCTVs
  • using a felt tip pen to provide better contrast of writing, therefore making it easier to read back
  • writing frames or thick lined paper
  • using embossed lined paper to help you write in a straight line and not overwrite what you have just written
  • dictaphones and memo-takers