Getting around confidently and safely
Your rehab worker from your local sensory team can provide you with practical advice on moving around safely and independently both at home and outdoors. If you join a Managing Sight Loss session, we will explore some of the techniques people with sight loss develop to move around both at home and in the community. Below you can find tips shared at our groups and discussions.
- Having a tidy up and de-cluttering your home will help you move around more easily.
- Make sure that rugs or low-level tables are not trip hazards.
- Creating routes around the home by linking fixtures, fittings, and furniture into chains can help you know where you are. An example: doorframe, back of sofa, sofa arm, my chair.
- If you are worried about tripping or falling, you can wear a personal alarm so you can quickly call for help.
- Encourage everyone in the household to close cupboard doors.
- Using coloured tape for door edges can make them easier to see.
- Having consistent, even, and controllable lighting levels throughout your home is important.
- Keep the stairs clear of clutter.
- Handrails which extend beyond the top and bottom stair can provide a useful guide.
- Night lights with automatic sensors are ideal for lighting hallways, bathrooms, and landings.
- Keep a torch handy.
- Be aware of head high obstacles – try moving with your hand in front of your face, palm out. If you can just feel your breath on the back of your hand on blowing out this means your hand is in the correct position to detect obstacles and allow you time to react
- You can detect obstacles at lower levels by pushing your hand out in front of you. Keep your fingers nice and relaxed and at about the height you’d expect to find a tabletop.
In the community
White mobility canes and walking sticks come in all shapes and sizes, so it is best to get some help choosing the right one. You don’t have to use a cane, but it’s a really good way of letting people know you may need some assistance and if needed can help you find steps and kerbs.
It can be difficult to use a white cane for the first time. It’s useful to talk to other cane users to find out how they first felt going out with a cane and how useful it has been to them.
- Planning even the simplest journey can be useful, for example you might choose not to go out on bin days or at school pick up times.
- Link landmarks and clues as to your location and direction of travel to create routes. A landmark is a feature along your route which is permanent and distinctive such as a pedestrian crossing. Clues are useful but they may not always be present such as the smell of baking bread or the chatter of children in a school playground.
- Where possible, use controlled crossings. If you place your hand under the crossing control box, you’ll find a cone which begins to spin when it’s safe to cross.
- It’s never easy to ask for help, but you’ll find most people are more than happy to help when asked.
- If you have asked for help to cross a road, ask to be taken all the way over to the opposite pavement.
- It’s ok to politely decline help.
- Peaked caps and sunglasses reduce the impact of glare.
- Use a torch in poor light.
- Carry a mobile phone when out and about. You can call for help or get it to tell you where you are.
You can ask Siri, Google assist or Bixby “where am I” and they’ll tell you roughly where you are standing. Humanware and other providers have specialist equipment, which allows you to follow routes using GPS. Equally the map features on your smart phone can perform this function. Take a look at the VitalTech website to find equipment that’s designed to help blind and partially sighted people get around www.vitaltech.org.uk
Be my Eyes
This app links you to a volunteer who utilises your phones camera to tell you what is around you. This app is free and is available for both android and Apple phones.
Uses artificial intelligence to tell you what’s around you, to read text and documents. It is also free. Find out more
Uses artificial intelligence to tell you what around you, with some phone has the capability to detect people and depth free with paid for add ons. Find out more
UK bus tracker
Tells you what bus is approaching, and how long you will have to wait. Free. Read here for more
Provides accessible travel information on the TFL networks including alternative walking routes. Free. Find out more
Lazarillo guides users through their city and building environments and connects users with businesses through accessible online shopping and notification services. It can then utilise GPS to navigate routes. Free Click here for more
Uses artificial intelligence to tell you what’s around you. Now available as smart glasses. Click here for more
Uses artificial intelligence to tell you what’s close to you Find out more
Please note this is only a small selection of apps and technology designed to assist people to mover around who are blind or partially sighted. For more information, visit www.vitaltech.org.uk
Concessions and services
If you are blind or partially sighted and live in London, you can apply to your local authority for a Freedom Pass. This allows you to travel for free across the capital. Please check terms and conditions of issue.
Reduced taxi costs for people with disability who meet the criteria https://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/services/taxicard
Blue parking badge
You can apply for a disabled persons parking permit if you are registered severely sight impaired (blind). If you are registered sight impaired (partially sighted) you will have to fulfil the medical criteria apply via your borough.
Dial a ride
A small bus which completes bespoke journeys for people who cannot use public transport due to their disability.
TFL Turn Up and Go
At any station with staff in the London area you can ask for assistance at the barrier you will be guided to your train, met at connections and guided from platform to exit by TFL staff. Some restrictions may be in place due to COVID health and safety.
National rail disabled assistance
National Rail has recently introduced Passenger Assistance by Transreport – a new app which allows you to request assistance via an internet-enabled smartphone. It will then send you a confirmation email once your request has been checked and confirmed. You can find out more about the app on this page. You can also ring to book assistance. Read more
TFL travel mentor scheme
TFL travel mentors are available to support passengers gain their confidence on the transport system. Find out more
Want more resources? Go back to the Managing Sight Loss course resources page.