Hearing and vision help

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Visually impaired man with white stick and guide dogInformation on hearing and vision help in Wiltshire

Who we are

We are a specialist team that provides a range of services if you are blind, have limited or impaired sight, are deaf or have an acquired hearing loss or are deafblind. This is sometimes known as dual sensory impairment – it’s when a person has a significant combination of hearing and sight loss.
If you are experiencing problems with day-to-day living such as using a telephone, preparing meals or getting out into the community, we can help you. Other services include information and advice, as well as minor equipment to help you manage better at home.

The Hearing and Vision Team

The Hearing and Vision Team consists of the following:

  • Social workers with deaf people
  • ROVIs (Rehabilitation Officers with People who are Visually Impaired)
  • ROHIs (Rehabilitation Officers with People who are Hearing Impaired)
  • Support workers with deafblind people
  • Specialist management and administrative staff

What we do

We give information and advice:

  • by answering public enquiries face-to-face
  • by telephone, including textphone
  • by fax, e-mail and letters
  • by visits to resource centres
  • at cultural centres, such as deaf clubs
  • in social groups such as clubs for visually impaired people
  • by use of online resources
  • by producing publications in formats such as Braille, large print, on tape or on computer disk

We take referrals direct from:

  • the public, including from carers, relatives, friends and neighbours
  • other professionals, such as health, education, environmental health and other social services staff
  • voluntary agencies

We assess how to meet your needs

While everyone can get information and advice from us, we also assess your situation and decide how best to meet your needs – this may be through our own services or from other sources of support. We will check what kind of help you need, examples of which include:

  • any specific equipment, such as a telephone with amplifier and/or large buttons to help resolve daily living problems
  • help with communication, or to get around (such as mobility and orientation training).

Our assessments include the everyday needs of adults, both in relation to sensory difficulties and those relating to the ability to live safely and independently. We do this by providing a range of specialist services, for which we will have assessed your eligibility.
These services include:

  • training in independent living skills, such as cooking, getting around as well asin and out of your home (indoor and outdoor mobility training)
  • counselling and therapeutic work
  • advocacy
  • training in communication skills, such as use of textphones and reading Braille
  • advice on communications services, such as sign language interpreters
  • sensory awareness training, for the pubic and other professionals
  • providing access to a wide range of equipment such as talking books, large print labels and markers, visual, audible and tactile alarms etc.
  • support to carers
  • benefits advice and help with claims
  • registration as blind, partially sighted, deaf and hearing impaired
  • liaising with and supporting voluntary agencies, including those engaged in service user consultation

Blind or visually impaired>

Our ROVIs (Rehabilitation Officers with Visually Impaired People), also known as rehabilitation workers or mobility officers, help visually impaired people to remain, or become, as independent as possible.

ROVIs can advise you about registration as blind or partially sighted and about the CVI (Certificate of Visual Impairment). They can also help visually impaired people to learn new skills to continue with many daily tasks.This can include things from how to move around with greater safety and more confidence, through to cooking. Sometimes special equipment can help or perhaps a different technique is needed.ROVIs can assess and advise. ROVIs also see people referred to low vision clinics throughout Wiltshire.
ROVIs can also put visually impaired people in touch with other useful services such as talking newspapers and local and national organisations.

More details about what we can offer are given in our publication:

  • Hearing and Vision Team – A Positive Choice (also available on tape, in large print and other formats)

If you feel that you, or someone you know, would benefit from the help of a ROVI see contact details below.


We can help if you are deaf and your first language is sign language. We also help people who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing and who need additional help or advice and give support to parents and carers of people who are deaf.
We can supply the following:

  • information about registration as deaf
  • information and advice and disability benefits
  • difficulties with caring for children
  • problems with living alone/independently
  • mental health difficulties
  • managing at work
  • housing problems
  • information about the effects of deafness on learning
  • information about how to book a sign language interpreter
    Our ROHIs (Rehabilitation Officers with Hearing Impaired People) will help if you have difficulties hearing things around the home that other people take for granted, such as your doorbell, telephone, TV.

The Wiltshire Hearing and Vision Team have ROHIs who work across the county and can provide advice, information, assessments and often the equipment necessary to enable you to carry on leading an independent life. Our ROHIs will visit you and discuss your needs within your own home, but we also have staff at drop-in centres in Salisbury – Wessex Sight Centre:
Hearing and Vision Resource Centre, Estcourt Crescent, Devizes SN10 1LR

We are happy to deal with any degree of hearing loss, whether you are profoundly deaf or have simply noticed your hearing is not as good as it used to be. We work closely with other organisations such as audiology departments at your local hospital, employers and job centres as well as offering advice to other social or care workers. We are also involved, along with the other members of the Hearing and Vision Team, in offering sensory awareness training tasks.

Specialist equipment

When we visit people in their home to complete an assessment they often comment that if they had known what equipment was available they would have asked for help much sooner. So here is a brief outline of some of the solutions to everyday problems that a ROHI may be able to offer.

Please note that all assessments are carried out on an individual basis and that Wiltshire Council works to an eligibility criteria. Contact the Wiltshire Hearing and Vision Team for further details e-mail: hearingandvisionteam@wiltshire.gov.uk

“I can’t hear my doorbell and keep missing my visitors.”

There is a range of alerting systems for your doorbell, from amplifiers or flashing light systems to vibrating pagers. Often we are able to adapt your existing doorbell by simply moving or adjusting it.

“I have difficulty in hearing my phone ringing and can’t always hear what is being said when I do answer it.”

BT can often install an extension bell in another room to help you to hear your phone ringing – your ROHI will be able to help you apply for one. Again there are flashing lights or vibrating systems to alert you to a phone call. If your difficulty is in hearing conversations on the phone, it may be helpful for you to try an amplified phone that can work with your hearing aid – if you have one to give you a better sound quality.

For those people whose hearing impairment is severe enough to make a standard phone impossible to use, we often suggest a textphone – a cross between a phone and a mini typewriter. These textphones are used by many profoundly deaf people and enable you to keep in touch with family and friends as well as helping you to maintain your privacy and independence by not having to rely on other people to make your calls for you.

“My partner says that I have the TV too loud, but if I turn it down, I can’t hear what is going on.”

Again, there are lots of ways to improve your enjoyment of the TV. If you wear a hearing aid then a loop system fitted in your home may be the answer. For those without hearing aids there are other assistive devices to enhance your sound quality. Nearly all these mean that the TV volume can be reduced, which in itself can resolve many of the problems encountered by hearing impaired people and their families. Of course, subtitles on TV programmes can alsobe very useful.

“I have a young baby, and I am worried that I won’t hear her crying”

There are special alarms for deaf parents, but we are often able to adapt a High Street baby monitor by adding a vibrating pad or flashing lights. This enables deaf or hard of hearing parents to be confident in the knowledge that they will be aware if their baby is crying.

These are obviously just a few examples of the areas your ROHI may be able to assist you in. We can also look at smoke alarms systems, alarm clocks, one-to-one alerts and door entry systems.

Much of the work that ROHIs are involved with is related to hearing aids. Although specific problems will always be referred back to the relevant Audiology Department, we can offer:

  • advice on how to get the best out of your hearing aid
  • advice about listening devices
  • maintenance or limitations to your aid
  • or to help you get the maximum benefit from it

You may be interested in other areas of communication such as lip-reading, or sign language to help you cope with your hearing loss, and we will be able to give you details of local classes and teachers.

The same applies to both local and national organisations; we can give you contact addresses and phone numbers.

It’s important to realise that your ROHI is there to help you whatever the level of your hearing loss, whether you have a hearing aid or not. Likewise, if someone you know would benefit from practical help or just some friendly advice, then contact your local Adult & Community Services office and they will take a few details and refer you the Sensory Team.

Sensory disability


  • Wiltshire Hearing and Vision Team – assessment and services to and for deaf or hearing impaired and/or visually impaired people
  • Social Workers with deaf People
  • How to contact a Social Worker with deaf People
  • ROHIs – Rehabilitation Officers with People who are Hearing Impaired


  • Wiltshire Hearing and Vision Team – assessment and services to and for deaf or hearing impaired people and/or visually impaired people
  • ROVIs – Rehabilitation Officers with People who are Visually Impaired
  • Registration as Blind or Partially Sighted
  • Equipment to help visually impaired people
  • Hearing and Vision Team Leaflet

What is deafblindness?

The Department of Health describe deafblindness, or dual sensory impairment, in broad terms:

Persons are regarded as deafblind if their combined sight and hearing impairment cause difficulties with:

  • communication
  • access to information
  • mobility

These difficulties are vast when you consider that some people can be born:

  • deafblind, or
  • deaf and lose vision in later life, or
  • visually impaired and acquire a hearing loss later in life, or
  • with hearing and sight but lose both these senses at some stage

The majority of deafblind people are over 60 years old and come into the last group. The needs of all these groups are very different, especially people born deaf or prelingually deaf, with the consequent difficulties of developing language and speech.

deafblindness is a direct impairment that is more than ‘just’ the loss of your vision and hearing. It is a unique impairment. The impact of a dual loss is significantly different from a single loss as the individual’s ability to compensate is greatly reduced. Just as the coping strategies and skills required by each deafblind individual are different, so are the support services they require.

Deafblind Guidance

In March 2001 the Department of Health issued Social Care for deafblind Children and Adults – LAC (2001) 8 under Section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970. Although referred to as ‘Guidance’ this circular has placed new statutory duties on all local authorities.

The new responsibilities of Wiltshire Council are:

  • identify, make contact with and keep a record of deafblind people in their catchment area (including those who have multiple disabilities including sensory impairment)
  • ensure that when an assessment is required or requested, it is carried out by a specifically trained person or team, equipped to assess the needs of a deafblind person – in particular to assess need for one-to-one human contact, assistive technology and rehabilitation
  • ensure that appropriate services are provided to deafblind people, who re not necessarily able to benefit from mainstream services or those services aimed primarily at blind people or deaf people who are able to rely on their other senses
  • ensure they are able to access specifically trained one-to-one support workers for those people they assess as requiring one
  • provide information about services in formats and through methods that are accessible to deafblind people
  • ensure that one member of senior management includes, within their responsibilities, overall responsibility for deafblind services.

The definition of deafblindness means that anyone who has both a hearing loss and a sight loss that causes them problems in everyday life is covered by the new guidance. People do not have to be completely deaf and blind.

Further information on the implementation can by found in Social Care for Children and Adults: a practical guide, produced by Sense.

Services in Wiltshire

The Wiltshire Hearing and Vision Team has experience of working with deafblind people and employs specially trained workers who undertake assessments.

The majority of deafblind people in Wiltshire are elderly and have lost their sight and hearing progressively. Where people are agreeable, their names are entered on Wiltshire’s record of people who are deafblind. It is intended that such information will be used for future planning purposes.

Given the latest definitions of deafblindness, that record will grow steadily and will include some people with complex needs who may require a range of specialist services.

Increasingly, as the needs of deafblind people are recognised, support services will emerge. Staff in health and social care services are being encouraged, through awareness training, to identify people and make their needs known. Wiltshire has trained guide communicators who work directly with deafblind people to facilitate their safe access to information and everyday facilities to promote independence. The intention is to make this service more uniformly available across Wiltshire.

Independent communication support in various forms, including the deafblind manual, is also available to give deafblind people access to the services they need eg: health services. Similarly, every effort is made to ensure Social Services information is available in a variety of formats and access to staff and services generally is made as easeful as possible.

The Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust have a collection of BSL videos to explain services and information available to you.


Our commitment

Wiltshire Council is committed to working with appropriately trained British Sign Language interpreters to assist in communicating with deaf people. The Disability Discrimination Act also places a duty on the Council to provide a BSL/English interpreter to make it easier for deaf people to use its services.

Professional standards

Accurate interpreting is important and therefore we promote the need to work with interpreters who are members of the Association of Sign Language Interpreters (ASLI) and/or registered with the Independent Register of Interpreters (IRP). However, there are only a small number of registered interpreters in the South West region so on occasion it may be necessary to book an interpreter from further away.

Good practice

The Disability Rights Commission, British deaf Association and Royal National Institute for deaf, Hard of Hearing People have produced a quick reference guide to advise service providers about their duty to provide BSL/English interpreters as part of the Disability Discrimination Act.

The guide gives useful tips on working with interpreters.

Contacting an interpreter

Contact the Wiltshire Hearing and Vision Team - details below.

Registering as blind or partially sighted

Only an Ophthalmologist can confirm if you are eligible to be Registered as Blind or Partially Sighted. They will ask you to sign a form – referred to as the CVI (Certificate of Visual Impairment), previously known as BD8, which will then be sent to the Wiltshire Hearing and Vision Team. Sometimes people believe that by signing this form they get ‘Registered’ at this point but this isn’t so, your signature on the certificate only gives consent to the information that you are eligible to be Registered, being passed on to the Wiltshire Social Services. A copy is also sent to your own doctor.

Wiltshire Community Services has a legal duty to maintain Registers of people with disabilities. As regards visual impairment there are two Registers; one for Blind and the other for Partial Sight. The Ophthalmologist will decide which Register you are eligible for.

Please note that most visually impaired people who are to be Registered as Blind still have some useful vision. Being on the Blind Register doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to lose all your sight at a later date either.

When the local office received your CVI form from the Ophthalmologist, a ROVI (Rehabilitation Officer with Visually Impaired People) will offer to visit you. They will go over with you what services and benefits are available to you in being Registered. They will also offer to assess your needs and advise and help as appropriate.

Some of the benefits are also dependent on age, circumstances and which Register you are eligible for. These are available on tape, large print and in other formats by contacting the Wiltshire Hearing and Vision Team.

Registration is voluntary. You can only be registered if you give your consent to the ROVI who will then arrange for a proof of Registration card to be sent to you.

The CVI form used to be called the ‘BD8’ – and in places stocks of the BD8 is still in use. The CVI (Certificate of Visual Impairment) performs the same function as the BD8 used to. That is, it formally certifies someone as Partially sighted or as Blind although the preferred terminology is now to be ‘Sight Impaired / Partially Sighted’ or ‘Severely Sight Impaired/Blind’.

Equipment to help visually impaired people

It is impossible to list a set package of aids and equipment that is likely to help a visually impaired person. One visually impaired person’s needs will differ from another’s, depending on what useful vision may still be retained or, in the minority of cases, if any.

  • Someone who has lost their central vision may be unable to read, but they may still be able to walk around in familiar places as they still have some side vision.
  • Some eye conditions have a very opposite effect. Someone with damaged side vision may be able to read even standard sized print but will find getting around hazardous, even in familiar areas. They may need a particular cane and the training in how to use it properly and safely.
  • Magnification, useful lighting and good contrasts – or making things big, bright and bold – may well help within the house for those with no central sight.
  • The needs of visually impaired people who have absolutely no sight will be different again; any aids or equipment likely to be of help may need to be tactile or audible.
    ROVIs (Rehabilitation Officers with Visually Impaired People) can give advice on what may be helpful.

Some equipment can also be seen and handled at:

  • Wessex Sight Centre, Salisbury District Hospital
  • Hearing and Vision Resource Centre, Estcourt Crescent, Devizes SN10 1LR - hearingandvisionteam@wiltshire.gov.uk
  • Wiltshire Blind Association - 01380 723682
  • The RNIB products can be located on their web site or you can telephone 0845 7023153 and ask for a catalogue
  • The Partially Sighted Society have a catalogue. Telephone 01302 323132 or e-mail them on info@partsight.org.uk
  • SW Retail Ltd, trading as ‘IC’, have a useful catalogue - e-mail swretail@amserve.net

Although we are a countywide team, we are based in Devizes.

Hearing & Vision Team
Unit C5
Beacon Business Park
Hopton Industrial Estate
Devizes SN10 2EY
Telephone (includes text): 01380 725201
Fax: 01380 731437
Minicom: 01380 732126
SMS: 07899 067466
Related documents
Hearing and vision team - a positive choice

Action on hearing loss - Supporting you

NHS Choices - Hearing loss
Action for blind people - Information and advice