Getting help without registration

You don’t need to go through the registration process to get help from your local social services. Find out how you can do this and what sort of help they can give you.

Visiting your high street optician

When you visit your high street optician, they can give you an information guide called the Low Vision Leaflet (LVL). This contains contact details for sources of information, advice and help.

The LVL has a tear-off form for you to fill in and send to your local social services to ask them for an assessment (the address should already have been filled in for you). On the form you can give information about your circumstances and any difficulties or anxieties you have because of your sight problem.

You can also ask for information about the services available to you.

The LVL leaflet comes with contact details telling you where to get advice and information locally and nationally. As well as giving you this leaflet, your optician can arrange for you to be seen at your local hospital eye clinic by a consultant ophthalmologist.

Your optometrist may also be able to refer you directly to these services or via your GP.

Find out more about eye examinations.

Hospital eye clinics

If your optician did not give you the LVL form, or you decided not to send it in, there is another way of getting help. If you agree, hospital eye clinic staff can fill in a form called a Referral of Vision Impairment (RVI). This form will:

  • tell social services about your situation
  • request an assessment of your need for support
  • state how urgently they think you require help, so you do not have to wait until the end of your treatment at the clinic to be referred.

Find out more about referral to a hospital for diagnosis.

Contacting social services directly

If you want to, there is nothing to prevent you from contacting your social services department directly and asking for an assessment of your care needs. You can do this at any time - for instance, when you first have problems with your sight, or if your sight problems get worse.

Your local council’s social services telephone number should be in the phone book, or directory enquiries. You can also search our Sightline Directory for their details.

When you call them, make it clear that you are blind or partially sighted and that you would like an assessment of your needs. Ideally you should be able to speak to a specialist team within social services (often called a “Sensory Impairment Team”) that has direct experience and training for helping people with sight loss.

How social services can help you

A social worker or a similar professional will first carry out an assessment of your needs, either in person or over the phone. It might sound daunting but it just involves them spending time with you to find out more about your situation, health and disabilities.

The aim of an assessment is to provide social services with a full view of what you can manage to do by yourself and the support you get from other people. Once social services has this information, they can then decide what help you may need from them and what services they should provide for you.

The help that you could receive might include rehabilitation. Specially trained rehabilitation workers can support you in learning or relearning a range of activities, including:

  • getting about safely indoors and outdoors
  • daily living skills such as cooking, cleaning and looking after yourself – plus equipment or simple changes you can make to help you with all these tasks
  • communication skills such as using a keyboard, mobile phone or even learning braille
  • leisure activities.

For more information about the help available from social services, what’s involved in an assessment, and your options for how you get the care and support you need, download our leaflet:

For advice and help with getting support from your local council, call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email helpline@rnib.org.uk.

Sightline directory

Find local services and organisations that help blind and partially sighted people in the UK. 

Search Sightline