Supporting vision rehabilitation

All councils in England provide a service called vision rehabilitation which offers crucial training and advice to people living with sight loss. Evidence shows that many blind and partially sighted people are failing to receive vital vision rehabilitation support. RNIB’s current campaign, See, Plan and Provide, is calling for improved access to vision rehabilitation assessments and support.

Vision rehabilitation provides crucial training and advice to people experiencing sight loss. This includes support to help them live in their home safely and negotiate the many obstacles and risks in the external environment. It gives people the skills and confidence to maximise their independence, participate in activities and access their community.

Over the past five years, some councils have reduced the resources they allocate to vision rehabilitation. Alarmingly, our research found that just under half (49 per cent) of blind and partially sighted people in contact with their council do not receive an assessment for vision rehabilitation support. This means that many are denied the right support, at the right time, to help them live independently at home.

Despite this worrying trend, other councils have continued to ensure that their services are properly supported, with fantastic results. One council in the East of England developed a tool to measure the cost benefits of vision rehabilitation. They found that investing in vision rehabilitation services saved at least £144,000 a year in care support costs.

Now, with councils currently considering their budgets for the coming year, there is an urgent opportunity to ensure that vision rehabilitation services are given theright resources to see, plan and provide:

See: everyone with a visual impairment must receive a specialist face to face assessment.

Plan: everyone must have a plan in place, identifying the outcome of their assessment. The first two steps must take place within 28 days of first contact with the local authority.

Provide: any agreed vision rehabilitation support must start within 12 weeks of the person’s initial contact with the local authority.

We are asking Liberal Democrat Councillors to ensure that their council budget ensures that people with sight loss in their area get the right support at the right time. You can read more about why this is important here.

If you are not a Councillor, you can still help. We’d love you to support our campaign by writing to your own Councillor to ask them to raise the issue within their council. You can do so online here.

If you would like more information about this campaign or on social care for blind and partially sighted people, please get in touch with me at mike[dot]bell[at]rnib[dot]org[dot]uk

* Mike Bell is Policy and Campaigns Officer Social Care for RNIB. He is also Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on North Somerset Council.

* The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is a UK charity offering information, support and advice to almost two million people in the UK with sight loss.

* Mike Bell is Leader of North Somerset Council, a long-standing councillor in Weston-super-Mare and was Brian Cotter’s Election Agent and Head of Office from June 1995 to December 2001.

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This entry was posted in Local government, News and Op-eds.


  • David Evans 2nd Nov '16 - 5:13pm

    Is this a County Council or District Council responsibility (or both)? Also does it apply to parishes?

  • Matt (Bristol) 2nd Nov '16 - 5:18pm

    Not sure, David – in both Bristol and in North Somerset it is discharged by unitary authorities, so it’s not a parish responsibility typically. I suspect it’s a county thing, as is social care.

  • So which “Council in the East of England”?
    And where can the data be accessed?

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