As described briefly in the section about registration, a key source of information, advice and support is your Local Authority’s social services department. Their Deaf and Visual Impairment Team (or Sensory Impairment Team, or something similar) is a group of trained, qualified professionals. You can get in touch with them by checking your local authority’s website or calling their helpline. Alternatively, any local visual impairment charity or group will tell you how to contact them.
Usually you will need to be registered in order to have your needs assessed. If you are not registered, they will guide you through the process. If you are not eligible for registration, the team may not be able to assess you formally, but will still be happy to offer you information and advice on local groups and organisations, support services, and other resources in the area that may be of use to you.
If you are eligible for an assessment, usually a Rehabilitation Officer will do this with you. They will work with you to understand the support that you need in order to do the things you want to in life. Depending on your needs, the support they offer may include equipment, training to use it, information and advice, contact with local groups and charities, or a support worker. They will also be able to refer you to other services that can help you, such as the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
Many of these teams have established good links with local hospitals and eye clinics, and it may be worth asking at the clinic if there is a Link Worker you can speak to, or that can contact you. This is a member of the team that has a direct link to the clinic, and will be available some of the week at the clinic so you can talk to them at your visit.
Each team will also have specialist workers that support people who have dual sensory impairment, so if you have problems with both hearing and seeing, they will be able to help you.