Shop RNIB Donate now

The right to live independently

Thousands of people with sight loss remain Out of Sight in the hidden scandal of vision rehabilitation.

Blind and partially sighted people can carry out daily tasks independently with the right support and equipment to relearn vital skills. This life-changing support is called vision rehabilitation, an adult social care service funded through the local authority.

However, exclusive RNIB research shows vision rehabilitation is a forgotten, under-resourced system, with thousands of people not getting the support they’re entitled to.

How to make a cup of tea if you have sight loss

However, over a quarter of local authorities in England left people waiting for more than a year for a vision rehabilitation assessment and subsequent support. Threadbare services mean people wait without the support they’re entitled to, at risk of physical accidents and injuries as well as mental health crises.

People like Charmaine, who faced a long wait to receive any specialist support: “It is really worrying and concerning. I’ve had to fight for everything I’ve got.”

Or Natalie, who without the right support was left feeling trapped: “I felt very unsafe and imprisoned and I couldn’t even go out or get on a bus.”

How does your area stack up?

Use our interactive map to check the waiting times for vision rehabilitation support across local authorities in England.

Visit the interactive map
Image of our interactive map that highlights waiting times in your area for vision rehabilitation, part of the #OutOfSight campaign.

Interactive map to help you find the help that is available in your area.

What are we calling for?

RNIB is calling on the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to urgently review vision rehabilitation services and to ensure all blind and partially sighted people can access the support they need to live life to the full. We need national oversight of services to ensure they are consistently delivered to the required standard.

To achieve this, we ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to:

  • Commission the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to develop guidelines and quality standards, with local authorities having to report on these to government and publish annually.
  • Subject vision rehabilitation services to the same regulation and monitoring as other adult social care services. This could be done within the current legislative framework and by extending the remit of the Care Quality Commission.
  • Recognise the skill and expertise of Vision Rehabilitation Specialists (and Qualified Habilitation Specialists) by making Vision Rehabilitation Specialists a regulated profession.
  • Encourage better integration of services through strengthened links between secondary and social care settings, with a guaranteed route in to vision rehabilitation for everyone who needs it, whilst ensuring blind and partially sighted people are made aware of their rights and the services they can expect to receive.

Read the Out of Sight report