Sensory impairment and physical disabilities

Sensory impairment and physical disabilities

Anyone may become disabled

This could be suddenly through accident, or gradually through illness, and some people are disabled from birth.

Whatever a person's disability, there are a range of different support options available that can help a person to maintain their independence.

Below is some information and support available if you experience: 

  • visual Impairment
  • deafness or hearing loss
  • deafblindness
  • physical disabilities

Visual impairment

Sight loss may be present at birth, in childhood or be acquired later in life. It is caused by a variety of different conditions or may be caused by infection or trauma. 

Some of the more common conditions are Cataracts Glaucoma, Age Related Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, and Retinitis Pigmentosa. 

Sight loss affects individuals in a variety of ways. you may be struggling to cope emotionally or with aspects of your daily life including:

  • getting out and about safely, 
  • accessing information, 
  • cooking, 
  • cleaning 
  • employment
  • your mental health may also be affected by experiencing additional difficulties including experiencing isolation and depression

How to get help?

If you have concerns about your sight an eye examination with an optometrist (optician) is essential to ensure your eyes are healthy. It is advisable, even if you do not experience any problems, to have an eye check every 2 years. In some circumstances you may need a test more frequently and your optometrist will advise you if this is the case.

If you already have a diagnosed sight loss and your sight is worsening either contact your ophthalmology department, if you are still seeing a consultant ophthalmologist or visit your GP for a re- referral.

If you suffer sudden sight loss, visual disturbance, distortion or injury to the eye go to the Accident and Emergency Unit of your local hospital.

What Support is available?


You may be able to access a low vision assessment and obtain on long term loan magnifiers and additional lighting to help with many tasks, either by asking your ophthalmologist for a referral to the hospital low vision service, or by contacting the local voluntary organisations.

If you are unable to access these services a worker from the Sensory Impairment Service can provide a low vision assessment and advise you on a suitable magnifier for you to purchase.

You might also find the below organisations helpful to support you

Sight Concern Worcestershire is a local charity offering help to blind and partially sighted people.  

Access to Work is a government organisation offering an assessment to obtain advice and sometimes funding that will enable you to access additional support or specialist equipment to support your employment.

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) raises awareness of sight problems, and how to prevent sight loss, and they campaign for better services and a more inclusive society RNIB raises awareness of sight problems, and how to prevent sight loss, and they campaign for better services and a more inclusive society 

Hearing impairment

Hearing impairment can be congenital/early onset or acquired in later years and can affect anyone.  The level of hearing loss can be mild to moderate, severe, or profound and this will determine how one adjusts to that loss and the level of support required to avoid isolation and low self-esteem.

Noisy environments and communal areas can be extremely challenging making it tiring, stressful and frustrating for those with a hearing loss.

There are many reasons why hearing loss occurs e.g.:

  • genetic inheritance, and 
  • deafened by exposure to repeated loud noise for example loud machinery, 
  • disease (such as measles, mumps, meningitis) 
  • a side effect of medication or by your mother having rubella (German Measles) in pregnancy. 
  • by accident/trauma. 
  • or as part of the ageing process

Many people, both hearing and hearing impaired suffer from tinnitus which can be a sensation of ringing, whistling, hissing or buzzing which is ‘heard’. Many sufferers feel their tinnitus worsens at night or when they are anxious. 

Advice, therapy and support is available through the hospital audiology department which can be accessed through your GP. 

How do I get help?

If you are concerned about your hearing loss, first visit your doctor.

If you start bleeding from your ear or have acute, severe ear-ache, ring NHS Direct 111 (text phone 0845 6064647) for advice or visit the Accident and Emergency unit at the hospital. 

What support is available?

A hearing loop system for people using hearing aids

Many public places have a loop system for use with hearing aids, if Bluetooth technology is activated in your hearing aids you should be able to access this automatically. Otherwise, the “T” facility will need to be programmed.

British Sign Language (BSL)

People with a severe/profound hearing loss may wish to learn British Sign Language (BSL) via organisations like Action Deafness.

Equipment and support

You may have difficulty with hearing people on the phone or the phone ringing, hearing conversations, hearing the doorbell, television, smoke alarm, alarm clock or hearing your baby cry.

There is a range of technology and equipment which may help you. Specialist workers from the Sensory Impairment Service will work with you to identify suitable advice, information, communication methods, voluntary services, equipment and support that will promote your independence and wellbeing.

They may provide additional equipment on long term loan or advise you on equipment you can purchase. The workers can also provide registration to reflect your hearing loss, helpful in accessing some additional benefits.

Lip-reading classes

Many hard of hearing people find lip-reading classes useful. Contact Action Deafness, your Local Adult Education or Hospital Audiology Department for dates, times and venues of classes near you.

You might also find the below organisations helpful to support you

  • Action Deafness provides support to people to deal with deafness, tinnitus and hearing loss
  • RNID is a national hearing loss charity providing information and advice


Deafblindness is the combined loss of vision and hearing impacting on communication, accessing information and mobility.

Deafblindness affects individuals in very different ways and certainly impacts upon every aspect of the person's daily life and their ability to function independently without specialist input support and advice.

The combination of both a hearing and sight loss (at any level) for most people can be life changing and may lead to increased frustration, isolation and depression.

How do I get help?

Contact the Sensory Impairment Team where a Specialist Worker will support you to identify the right information, advice and support to meet your needs. 

What support is available?

Direct Payments

These can enable a Deafblind person to obtain the specialist support they require e.g. through a Communicator Guide or Support Worker.  These work on a one-to-one basis with the person, acting as a guide and communicator and with their help, deafblind people can live fulfilling lives at home and in the community.

Their role is to support the individual to do the things they want to do - not to do things for them. They help ensure communication is clear and that the person is able to move around safely, using the right kind of guiding technique.

This might mean supporting someone to travel to the supermarket to do their weekly shop, reading someone's letters to them, helping to set up a medical appointment and accompanying them to the hospital or helping an individual to attend a social group.


Due to the uniqueness of deafblindness, each individual may benefit from a very different combination of equipment to support their dual sensory loss. 

Physical Disability Support

You can find advice and guidance from the different organisations below:

Mobility and Accessibility

Public and accessible toilets 

The Radar National Key Scheme offers disabled people access to locked public toilets in shopping centres, pubs, cafés, department stores, bus and train stations and many other locations.

The Great British Public Toilet Map shows toilets that the public can use, including those in shops, cafes etc.

You can also find Changing Places toilets near you.

You can also search the Community Services Directory to find local support and organisations in your area 

Driving and Blue Badge

You can find contact details of organisations who can help you from the list below:

Sensory Impairment Service

If you or your health care professional feel you need additional support Specialist workers from the Sensory Impairment Service may be able to help. 

They will work with you to identify suitable advice, information, communication methods, voluntary services, equipment and support that will promote your independence and wellbeing. 

They may provide additional equipment on long term loan or advise you on equipment you can purchase. 

The workers can also provide support in registrations and accessing some additional benefits. 

To have a discussion about your needs and support available to you please contact us: 

Duty Worker available on Monday to Friday.


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