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Services for people with sight or hearing difficulties

Further support

A National Low Vision Service for Scotland is due to be launched on 1 April 2023.

The Scottish Government are looking for your views, opinions and experiences to inform and influence how this service is shaped. The consultation closes on Friday 6 May 2022.  There are different ways for people to participate.  You can complete an online survey.  You can also request an accessible survey questionnaire, arrange a telephone discussion or have any other queries answered, by contacting Dr Hazel McFarlane, Senior Sensory Hub Officer, Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland. Email or phone 07595 453 318.

We have put together some information on what other support is available for people who are sight or hearing impaired, to give you an idea of some of the common problems people experience and what can be done to help. The Shared British Sign Language Plan for Lanarkshire 2018 – 2024 sets out actions to promote and support the use of BSL and was developed with input from users of BSL in Lanarkshire.

Information, help and support for blind, partially sighted and/or deafblind adults and children

Visibility has been working with blind and partially sighted people for 150 years and provides a range of services and opportunities for people who have experienced sight loss. They have a variety of services available including social, recreational and learning opportunities for people to take part in. Visibility also provides information to family, friends and professionals.

Guide Dogs provide mobility and freedom to blind and partially sighted people. They also campaign for the rights of people with visual impairment, educate the public about eye care and fund eye disease research. 

Guide Dogs also offers free, virtual sighted guide training, open to anyone aged 18+ who would like to learn the basics of sighted guiding. This training is ideal for anyone who works, or volunteers, with members of the public.

Our aim is to increase the number of people in the UK who know how to sighted guide, to help create a more inclusive society for people with vision impairment.

Much like learning how to perform first aid, sighted guiding is a useful life skill. It will give people confidence when they meet people who are blind or partially sighted, and the guiding techniques to help them if they need it. 

Our Introduction to Sighted Guiding is a live online session open to the public, delivered by one of our expert staff who is available to answer questions and provide advice. It covers: 

  • How to start a conversation when you meet someone who is blind or partially sighted. 
  • The confidence to ask someone if they need assistance
  • Basic guiding techniques for crossing roads, getting around obstacles and getting in and out of cars
  • An introduction to common eye conditions and their impact. 
  • Awareness of access rights and barriers to independence. 

Our training is open to participants aged 18+and offers advice on guiding people with sight loss aged 18+.

Additionally, we offer training for friends and family members of people with sight loss.

To book onto a session, visit:

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is the UK's leading charity offering information and support and advice to almost two million people with sight loss. There is also an excellent training resource available to support people with learning difficulties to access eye care services called the Healthy Eyes Pack

Sense Scotland have been working for over 20 years with children and adults who have communication support needs because of deafblindness, sensory impairment, learning and physical disabilities.

See Ability provide specialist support, accommodation and eye care help for people with learning disabilities, autism and sight loss.

Royal Blind has changed its name to Sight Scotland and is Scotland’s largest vision impairment organisation.Their vision is to see a community in which blind and partially sighted people, including those who have other disabilities, are fully included and lead fulfilling lives. 

Deafblind UK is a national charity supporting people with sight and hearing loss, enabling them to live the lives they want. If you or someone you know is affected by reduced sight and hearing, we can help.

Deafblind Scotland Deafblind Scotland’s aim is to enable deafblind people to live as rightful members of their own communities. Deafblind Scotland offers a variety of services such as communication and linguistic access advice, advice navigating self-directed support, information and formatting services, welfare rights support, accredited training and a guide/communicator service.

Scottish War Blinded has changed its name to Sight Scotland Veterans and is for any veteran with sight loss, no matter the cause, can spend time with a local Scottish War Blinded outreach worker, who will introduce them to the support we have available. They take time to work together to develop a relationship, and find solutions to individual concerns. Our outreach workers can advise on not only our own services, but on other local services which might be of benefit.

As Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable sight loss in Britain, Diabetes UK was set up to support everyone affected by diabetes. Their website offers information and guidance on understanding the risks of developing eye problems and how to prevent or treat them.

The Glaucoma Association is a charity for people with glaucoma.They provide information, literature and advice to prevent unnecessary loss of sight through early detection, diagnosis or treatment.

Macular disease is the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK, with 300 people diagnosed every day. The Macular Society works tirelessly to beat the fear and isolation of macular disease with world-class research, and the best advice and support.

Retina UK support people affected by inheritive progressive sight loss and invest in medical research to ensure that they can lead a fulfilling life.

The Partially Sighted Society are a national charity set up to help anybody living with sight loss.

Information, help and support for deaf and hearing impaired adults and children

The British Deaf Association have developed a new Toolkit for people and their carers who are deaf and living with Dementia. This is an exciting new Toolkit that should help make life easier for people who face these challenges.

Scotland | Action on Hearing Loss represents the 945,000 people who are deaf or hard of hearing in Scotland. Their staff and volunteers offer a wide range of services, including communication, information and employment services.

Deaf Action their aim is to raise awareness of the needs and rights of deaf people, challenge discrimination, and provide services to promote independence and quality of life.

The National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS) is the leading charity dedicated to creating a world without barriers for deaf children and young people.

Hearing dogs train hearing dogs to alert deaf people to select household sounds and danger signals in the home, workplace and in public buildings - providing a life-changing level of independence, confidence and security.

The Alliance Scottish Sensory Hub is a new development for the sensory loss sector in Scotland and acts as a platform for the voice of lived experience for anyone living in Scotland with sight loss, hearing loss, deafness, dual sensory loss and deafblindness.

The British Deaf Association is the UK’s leading membership organisation and registered charity run by Deaf people for Deaf people. The BDA delivers a range of services to achieve its aims of empowering Deaf people to overcome difficulties that they face on a daily basis.

BSL Healthy Minds is a psychological therapy service for deaf people. We offer support in British Sign Language to those who are experiencing depression, anxiety or similar mental health problems. Our qualified therapists are deaf, or hearing and fluent in BSL, which gives deaf people full access to psychological therapies.

Hearing Link Scotland is based in Edinburgh and works to improve the quality of life for people with hearing loss in Scotland, as well as supporting partners, family and friends.

The National Association of Deafened People provides information and support for deafened people, who have lost all or most of their useful hearing, to help enable them to regain their independence and enjoy the best quality of life. NADP is run by and for deafened people and the Executive Committee consists of deafened people, who can relate to the needs of their members.

Local community-based services and specialist groups for people with sensory impairment can be explored using the “Advanced search” feature on the VASLAN locator tool in order to find the right service.