Orkney Islands Council
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Visually Impaired People

The Visually Impaired People section has information in five broad areas;

Contents of this webpage

Register of blind and partially sighted people

Orkney Health and Care have a statutory responsibility to maintain a register of blind and partially sighted people. Registration is entirely voluntary and registration as a blind person does not necessarily mean that the person is totally without sight or ever will be.

Registration makes it easier to access services or benefits provided by national and local government and the voluntary societies. Orkney Health and Care can liaise with local and national agencies who are involved with the welfare of visually impaired people.

How To Register

Your doctor will arrange an appointment for you to see a consultant Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist). If eligible, the Ophthalmologist will ask, at your own wish, to register by completing a BP1 form.

One copy is kept by the Balfour Hospital and a copy is sent to the Rehabilitation Officer at Orkney Health and Care in Kirkwall.

The Rehabilitation Officer will arrange a visit. This will give you the opportunity to seek advice and ask for any information from a professional worker.

Rehabilitation Officer

The overall aim of the Rehabilitation Service is to enable people with a visual impairment to live as normal a life as possible. The Rehabilitation Officer can advise in general areas, including daily living, communication and mobility. This can help achieve greater independence and enhance the quality of life.

Most visually impaired people have some useful vision and Rehabilitation Officers can advise on how to make the best use of this sight. Information on better lighting and the introduction of Low Vision Aids, some of which can be provided through the Low Vision Clinic in Aberdeen.

The Rehabilitation Officer works at Orkney Health and Care, as part of the Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation Team.

Daily Living

This involves working towards increasing confidence by developing methods in areas of domestic tasks e.g. cooking, cleaning, washing and general organisation within the home. Some simple adaptations to domestic equipment may make many tasks easier. Advice and information can also be given on specialist equipment.


This may include some advice on methods of reading and writing e.g. Large Print, Tape Services, Braille, Moon and Keyboard skills. Advice and information is also available on the use of aids, equipment and new technology.


Mobility is about movement, whether it is independently or with another person. Advice and training may enable a person to get around their own home or move in a more difficult environment e.g. shopping locally or travelling by public transport. Aids and equipment such as a white cane can prove helpful together with advice on its use.

This has been a brief outline of how the Rehabilitation Officer works and the other services that can be offered to meet individual needs.

The Rehabilitation Service includes working with children, families, and people with additional disabilities and professionals who may require some advice or training.

Benefits For Registered Blind Or Partially Sighted People

Financial Benefits

Registration may entitle people to some benefits. It is therefore important to inform the Benefits Agency of your registration if you are already receiving or applying for any benefits.

RNIB Talking Book Service

Application for a Talking Book from the RNIB can be made through the Rehabilitation Officer. There is an annual rental for this service which is at present met by the Community Social Services Department.

The Blind Persons Travel Card

This card entitles the user to free travel throughout Scotland by train, bus or coach and the North Link Scottish Ferries.

For information please contact Margaret Ross, Development and Environment Services, School Place, Kirkwall.


If you are in employment or seeking work, help and advice is available from the Disability Employment Advisor at the local Job Centre.

Employment Service

Disability Services (PACT)

Employment Service

Metropolitan House

31 -33 High Street



Telephone: 01463 888 284

Kirkwall Job Centre

Government Buildings

Tankerness Lane


KW15 1AJ

Telephone: 01856 875113


A wide range of services are available by contacting BT - Dial 150 or Directory Enquiries (free service) Dial 195.

Additional Benefits For Registered Blind People Only

Financial Benefits

Increased Income Tax Allowance available to the registered blind person or their spouse. Inform your local Inland Revenue Office.

Television Licence Fee

A reduction of half the price of the TV Licence.

Radio Or Radio Cassette

Provided free on permanent loan from British Wireless for the Blind Fund to people registered blind or partially sighted who meet the funds criteria. Contact the Rehabilitation Officer.

Sight Test

Free NHS sight test.

Postal Vote

Contact local Council prior to election.

Travel Discounts

Concessionary Travel

British Airways have a current policy of allowing the guide of a Registered Blind person to travel at a reduced price. The Rehabilitation Officer holds and completes the appropriate forms to apply for this concession. This is a voluntary concession from British Airways and can be withdrawn at anytime.

Blue Badge

This replaces the Orange Badge as of April 2000.

If you are registered blind, you are entitled to a Blue Badge. You do not have to own a car or have been a previous driver. The Blue Badge is in the registered person’s name and can be used in any car in which they are a passenger.

Dial A Bus

Dial A Bus can be used by anyone living in Orkney who is unable to use public transport because of their disability. For more information Telephone: 01856 871515.

Orkney Ferries

If you have an Orange or the new Blue Badge, Orkney Ferries give a concession of 50% off the fare of the car and 50% off the fare of the holder of the Orange or Blue Badge. These concessions may be subject to change so it is recommended that you check with Orkney Ferries prior to making travel arrangements.

NorthLink Scottish Ferries

If you are Registered Blind or Partially Sighted, North Link Scottish Ferries offer 100% off the price of your fare and cabin and 25% off their Islander Rate for cars. If you have an Orange Badge or the new Blue Badge, North Link Scottish Ferries give a concession of 25% off the price of their Islander Rate (fare, cabin, car).

These concessions may be subject to change so it is recommended that you check with North Link Scottish Ferries prior to making travel arrangements.

Disabled Persons Rail Card

Contact the Rail Company that you will be using. The Blind Persons Travel card may be used with some train companies throughout Scotland and England.

Useful Addresses for Visually Impaired People

Royal National Institute For The Blind (RNIB)

The RNIB offer a wide range of advice and services for people of all ages. They also provide a wide range of specialist equipment for the visually impaired and a catalogue is available on request from the address below.

Royal National Institute For The Blind (RNIB)

Po Box 173



Telephone: 0345 013 153


Partially Sighted Society

The Partially Sighted Society also produces a catalogue of specialist equipment which is available on request. They also produce a quarterly magazine which is in large print and other material giving information and advice on various aspects of sight loss.

Partially Sighted Society

Queens Road


South Yorkshire


Telephone: 01302 323 132


Visual Impairment Association (Orkney) V.I.A.

The objectives of this association are to:-

  • Promote the welfare of visually impaired people in Orkney.
  • Increase the understanding of problems of visually impaired people.
  • Promote and encourage the provision and improvement of facilities for visually impaired people.
  • Make representation on behalf of visually impaired people.

The Association publishes a newsletter every three months, contaminating information on many varied topics of relevance to those with a visual impairment. There are also updates on projects which the association has initiated and services which are available. VIA is a charity and membership is free to anyone who is registered blind or partially sighted.

The committee meet 6 times a year and social outings are organised where all members can meet and enjoy a day or night out with others who have similar concerns.

Further Information on VIA Orkney

For further information contact:

Mrs A Spence – Telephone: 01856 761533

Mr E Carol - Telephone: 01856 873503


Talking Newspaper (Orkney)

This is a local charity in Orkney who put the Orcadian Newspaper onto tape each week. This is a free service available to anyone who is unable to read newsprint. The paper is read onto tape and posted out to members on a Friday and usually received on a Saturday.

Once the tape has been listened to it is replaced in the envelope and posted back to the association (freepost), for more information contact:

Shona Wylie

Orkney Library and Archives

44 Junction Road


KW15 1AG

Telephone: 01856 873166


National Big Print Newspaper

This is a national weekly newspaper produced in large print. The paper reports national and international news but also includes Radio and TV information for the week ahead plus brainteasers, sports news, recipes and large print book reviews.

The Big Print is produced as a tabloid and can be purchased by subscription on a quarterly, half yearly or yearly basis.


Big Print

PO BOX 308



Telephone: 0800 124 007


National Talking Newspapers And Magazine Service

The Talking Newspaper Association is a national charity that records over 180 publications onto tapes that can be played on a normal household cassette player. The annual subscription allows the visually impaired person as many titles as they wish. Postage is free.

They produce English, Scottish and Sunday Newspapers plus the colour supplements. The magazines available on tape cover animals and pets, business and financial, computers, consumer magazines, countryside and wildlife, family and home, food and wine, gardening, women’s magazines, religion, sport, plus much more.

Talking Newspaper Association Of The United Kingdom

National Recording Centre



TN21 8DB

Telephone: 01435 866 102

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