Find out about support and equipment you can access to help you retain independence if you are deaf, blind or visually impaired.
If you need equipment to help overcome problems as a result of your hearing or vision loss, we will provide help and advice about your options.
We will also advise you where you can go for equipment that you may find useful and we may provide some equipment directly to you.
So that we can assess what type of help would be most useful to you, and to request assistance, you can complete a needs assessment online.
We also have suggestions for things you can do yourself in order to remain independent.
Common problems and possible solutions
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. This arranges for the sound they hear to come from electromagnetic waves from the loop rather than sound waves direct to the aid microphone.
The loop is a kind of radio aerial, which transmits the sound signal to anyone situated within it. 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 three different environments: in the home, at a counter and in public places.
Hearing the alarm clock
Alarm clocks for deaf people come in a wide range of styles and sizes and some look very similar to standard alarm clocks. But unlike standard alarm clocks, they alert you to the alarm 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
If you are hard of hearing, it may be difficult for you to hear your doorbell ring. There are various types of doorbells available on the open market 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 is the infra-red system. This is a wireless assistive listening system that can be used by deaf or hard of hearing individuals or groups to better hear what is being said in meetings, classrooms, workshops, and other situations. Infrared systems use invisible light to transmit sound signals.
Using the telephone
Some people find it difficult or impossible to communicate by ordinary telephone, for example people with a hearing impairment or severe speech impairment. One solution is for them to use a textphone, also known as a minicom.
A minicom allows a person to type their message and read the response on a display screen. Calls to a minicom can be made either direct from another minicom or through the BT relay service, Typetalk, on 0800 7311 888. Calls cannot be made direct from an ordinary telephone to a textphone or minicom.
In addition, telephone companies such as BT make 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.
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; and
- Using a peaked cap or a hat with a brim.
Out and about
If you have difficulties when you are out and about, the following solutions may help:
- Specialist training to improve your safety outdoors;
- Various types of white canes to suit different needs, for example symbol cane, guide cane or long cane; and
- Using tactile thimbles on traffic light boxes.
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; and
- Using different pouring techniques to prevent spillages.
Reading the mail
If you have difficulty reading your mail, possible solutions include:
- Fluorescent angle poised lamp to provide improved lighting around your reading area;
- Low vision aids - magnifiers, Eezee Readers and CCTV's;
- Typoscopes; and
- 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:
- Improved lighting in your kitchen area;
- Use of low vision aids such as magnifiers to help you view the dials easier;
- Mark the dials with 'bump-ons', 'hi-mark' or other permanent markers; and
- Use of 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; and
- 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; and
- 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 lamp;
- Low vision aids - magnifiers and CCTV's;
- Using a 'felt-tip' type pen to provide better contrast of writing, therefore making it easier to read back;
- Writing frame or thick lined paper;
- Embossed lined paper to help you write in a straight line and not overwrite what you have just written; and
- Dictaphones and memo-takers.
We have specialist teams to help in particular situations.
What we offer
Some of our social workers are skilled in using British Sign Language and have background in working with deaf people.
Therefore they understand the cultural differences involved in being a deaf person in a hearing world.
They can undertake social care assessments with adults and also work alongside our disabled children's service in providing assessment to deaf children and young people.
Social workers with deaf people are there to provide or arrange a service to deaf people following an assessment. 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; and
- social isolation.
We support children and young people with hearing or vision impairment through a network of support services, depending on their specific needs.
We have a specialist education service available to children with a hearing or vision impairment. See the special educational needs and disabilities section for more information.
The term 'deafblind' means people who have a combined vision and hearing impairment.
We have a dedicated team who provide specialist support for deafblind people.
The team is specially trained in deafblindness and offers an assessment and services to deafblind people, which will often include equipment.
The services available depend on the individual but will usually be part of helping a person to:
- Manage communication with other people e.g. at the bank, in shops, on the telephone;
- Use information e.g. deal with letters, bank statements; and
- Get out and about in order to be more independent.
If you have been diagnosed with a vision loss, we receive notification of this through a certificate of visual impairment.
We keep a register of these certificates and offer an assessment to people that become part of that register.
If you decide you could benefit from a social care needs assessment following your registration, you can also make use of our 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 may involve activities such as learning to use a long cane; learning skills to work independently in the kitchen; or learning how to use special equipment for reading and doing tasks such as shopping and paying bills.
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. In this way, people can remain in control and independent for as long as possible.