Getting around

There are several different methods you can use toget around independentlyif you have a problem with your vision.

Long cane

You may find a long cane useful when travelling. These type ofcanes are usually foldable andcan help you get around by detecting objects in your path. The cane will also make drivers and other pedestrians aware that you have sight loss.

To get the most from a longcane,it's a good ideato attend a training course that will teach you how to use it. The RNIB or Guide Dogs canprovide you with further details about training.

Guide dogs

The charityGuide Dogs has been providing guide dogsfor people with vision lossfor many years. Guide dogs can help you get around, and provide both a sense of independence and companionship.

If you apply for a guide dog, Guide Dogs provide all the essential equipment free of charge and can also offer financial assistance if needed for things like food or vet costs.

You don't need to have lost all your sight to benefit from a guide dog and you don't have to be officially registered as blind or partially-sighted to apply for one. The Guide Dogs website has more information about applying for a guide dog.

Guide Dogs alsooffer a number ofother servicesfor people with a visual impairment (even if you don't have a guide dog), such asChildren and Young People's Servicesand mobility training.

The charityalso providesthe My Guide service, whichaims to reduce the isolation that many people with sight loss experience, helping to rebuild their confidence and regain their independence.

Global positioning system (GPS)

A global positioning system (GPS) is a navigational aid that uses signals from satellites to tell you where you are and help plan your journeys.

GPS devices are available as stand-alone units that can be programmed using a Braille keyboard, which tell you your current location and give you directions to where you want to go.

If you have a smartphone, there are a number of GPS apps you can download.

The RNIB website has more information abouttechnology and products for people with sight loss, includingGPS.


If you're diagnosed with a condition that affects your vision, you have a legal obligation to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Failure to do so is a crime and can result in a fine of up to 1,000.

Visit GOV.UK for more information aboutdriving with a disability or a health condition.

If you're registered as having a sight impairment, the DVLA will assume your driving licence is no longer valid and you'll no longer be able to drive.

Exceptions are occasionally made for people with mildvision impairment. If you think this applies to you, then your doctor will need to fill in a DVLA medical information questionnaire (PDF, 265kb).

You're only legally allowed to drive if you can read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres (65 feet), and an eyetest shows your visual acuity is at least 6/12. You're allowed to wear glasses or contact lenses when reading the plate or letter chart.

There are also standards relating to your visual field and driving. If you have a condition that mayreduce your visual field, the DVLA may ask you to completea visual field test to demonstrate you're safe to drive.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018