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Personal Independence Payment (PIP) toolkit

Going out – planning and following journeys

This activity looks at your ability to work out and follow a route safely and reliably.

Image: Man outside, wearing dark glasses and holding his cane, with a London bus and traffic pictured in the background.

Questions relevant to sight loss

The descriptor (legal tests) are:

Cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid.

Points: 10

Cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid.

Points: 12

More information to help you answer the questions

This activity looks at your ability to plan and follow the route of a journey safely and reliably. It applies to you if you cannot work out where to go, follow directions, crossroads safely or deal with unexpected changes in your journey.

If you need to walk with a guide dog, use an orientation aid or have someone there to guide you, you will satisfy the tests.  An orientation aid is any specialist aid designed to assist disabled people to follow a route safely.

The questions look at familiar and unfamiliar routes.  You score more points and are paid at a higher rate if you have difficulties following a familiar route.

You should only be considered able to journey to an unfamiliar destination if you are able to use public transport. So – if you have difficulties using public transport you will satisfy this test.

Top tips

When answering the questions think about:

Needing assistance and guidance

  • Can you get to local destinations you know well without sighted assistance? Or do you need someone with you for all or some of the journey? Explain why e.g. to avoid hazards, unexpected things or people crossing your path such as cyclists or children
  • Can you still follow the route of a familiar journey if there are unavoidable changes to your route (e.g. road works, changes to bus stops, new street furniture) or do you need to seek assistance?
  • Can you cross the road safely, or do you need sighted assistance to cross the road?
  • Can you cross the road at a controlled pedestrian crossing (a traffic light) without sighted assistance? If so, can you see the “green man” or do you rely on the tactile rotating cone?
  • If the rotating cone was not working, would you need to ask for sighted assistance?
  • What, if any, accidents have you had when getting about e.g. falls or being hit by a vehicle or bicycle? What happened, what treatment did you need? Have you had ‘near misses’ when you were almost hit by a vehicle or cyclist?
  • Have you had mobility training, and has this helped with your ability to safely get around on familiar or unfamiliar journeys?

Do you need aids to go out?

  • What aids do you use? A long cane? A guide dog? A monocular? A talking navigation app on your mobile? Anything else? If a long cane would be helpful to you when outdoors but do not use it because you do not want to be identified as visually impaired, explain this on the form.
  • Do you need help to know how to enter and exit buildings e.g. when steps begin and end? Do you need assistance to read road signs?
  • Can you visually identify and avoid hazards such as lamp posts, bollards, or A-boards? State if you have walked into obstacles such as these before.
  • Do you ever trip over, for example on even ground, or due to you misjudging the depth of a kerb or step?

Help with navigating

  • Do you get lost?
  • If you do get lost, are you able to navigate back to your chosen route or would you have to ask for sighted assistance? Do you need help planning a route?
  • Do you need help with navigation?

Taking public transport

  • Can you use public transport? Do you need help to identify the bus or train you need, find the right bus stop or platform, read overhead train indicators, use prepaid ticket readers, find an empty seat or recognise where to get off?
  • If you use London Underground or a metro service can you safely use stairs and escalators?
  • Do you require public transport information such as timetables, in an alternative format like large print, audio or braille?
  • Do you need customer assistance to enable you to find your bus stop/stand or train platform, or to get on the correct train or bus?

Other factors that affect your ability to go out

  • Does the weather (e.g. bright sunlight) affect your ability to carry out a journey?
  • Does the time of day (e.g. in dark evenings) affect your ability to travel safely, such as if you are affected by glare from the sun when low in the sky, or from vehicles’ headlights in the evening or early morning?
  • Are you able to negotiate crowded areas without assistance e.g. shopping centres or busy railway stations? Do you feel that it takes you longer to complete a journey because of your sight loss?
  • Would planning and following an unfamiliar journey cause you to feel stressed or anxious?

Put your answers in the section called “Extra information”.