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The right to live independently

Vision rehabilitation equips blind and partially sighted people with the skills to live independently. From making a cup of tea, to using a long cane to get from A to B.

Steve Hyde, Regional Campaigns Officer, on a walk using his long cane with a Rehabilitation Officer walking beside him.

Rehab sessions provide crucial daily living and mobility skills, confidence and advice to blind and partially sighted people on how to stay living in their homes independently, and to get out and about with confidence. It provides people with the skills they need to be independent and to access and participate in the community. It can also prevent, reduce or delay the need for more costly care and support.

Currently, there is a postcode lottery across England for vision rehabilitation. RNIB has heard from people who have been waiting for over four years for rehabilitation support, with the pandemic increasing numbers on the waiting list for vision rehabilitation services. Without adequate rehabilitation services, people diagnosed with sight loss or whose sight has deteriorated can become isolated, unable to access their community, work or hobbies.

This is a crucial service administered by local authorities which could be better resourced by government.

We’re asking decision makers to:

  • Revolutionise the vision rehab offer, making sure every individual gets access to all the skills and support they need including emotional and technological support, so they can live independently.
  • Ensure everyone with sight loss gets access to vision rehabilitation when they need it.

Our top asks to all parties

  1. Revolutionise the patchy provision of life changing vision rehabilitation services which are essential for blind and partially sighted people to live confidently and independently.
  2. Build a society where blind and partially sighted people can travel independently by implementing our principles for inclusive street design.
  3. Create and carry out a National Eye Health Plan which will reduce waiting lists, make sure no one experiences avoidable sight loss, and guarantee everyone the right eye care at the right time.
  4. Tackle the barriers to employment for people with sight loss, making sure Access to Work support is put in place without delays.
  5. Give children with vision impairment the best start in life by providing and funding the specialist support they need at school.