'Blind' means having a high degree of vision loss i.e. seeing much less than is normal or perhaps nothing at all. 'Partially sighted' is a less severe loss of vision. Partially sighted people can see more than someone who is blind, but less than a fully sighted person. Blind and partially sighted people can register with their local council. The register is held by the social services or social work department, or by a local voluntary agency, and is confidential.
For registration purposes, the term ‘blind’ now becomes ‘severely sight impaired (blind)’ and partially sighted becomes ‘sight impaired (partially sighted)”. The formal notification required to register as “severely sight impaired” or “sight impaired” is a Certificate of Vision Impairment (CVI), signed by a Consultant Ophthalmologist (eye specialist). However, registration is voluntary. The individual should have a copy of their CVI and should be encouraged to register, if they have not already done so, as they may be entitled to various other benefits too.
In general terms a person can be registered as severely sight impaired (blind) if they cannot see (with glasses, if worn) the top letter of the eye test chart (used by doctors and opticians) at a distance of 3 metres or less. Some people who can read the top letter of an eye test chart at 3 metres, but not at 6 metres, may still be eligible for registration as blind if their field of vision is also severely restricted. Only being able to read the top letter at 3 metres is sometimes referred to as 3/60 vision: the person can see at 3 metres what a person with normal vision can see at 60 metres.
A person can be registered as sight impaired (partially sighted) if they have a full field of vision but can only read the top letter of the eye test chart at a distance of 6 metres or less (with glasses, if worn). However, if they can read the next three lines down at the same distance, but the field of vision is either moderately or severely restricted, they may still qualify for registration.
The Department advises that concessionary travel passes should be issued to people whose sight is so impaired that they would be able to register as severely sight impaired (blind) or sight impaired (partially sighted). Local authorities may, where a person is not on the local authority register, require evidence from an eye specialist, for example an optometrist, that the applicant would qualify to be registered as severely sight impaired (blind) or sight impaired (partially sighted). Advice on how to register can be found on the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) website at: http://www.rnib.org.uk/registrationcard
Hearing loss is measured in decibels across the normal hearing spectrum, as dB HL (Hearing Level). People are generally regarded as having a severe hearing loss if it reaches 70-95 dB HL and a profound loss if it reaches 95+ dB HL. The Department advises that the statutory minimum concession should be made available to people in these categories.
There is no statutory registration system for deaf people. However, many will be registered on a voluntary basis with their local authority social services department. The register is open to people who have varying degrees of hearing loss, so in checking the register a local authority is advised to check that the applicant is profoundly or severely deaf before issuing a national concession bus pass.
As in the case of blind and partially sighted people, local authorities may, where appropriate, require applicants to provide evidence of registration before issuing a pass, or evidence that they could register, for example, an audiological report, or a report from an aural specialist.
Included within this category are people who are unable to communicate orally in any language. Those people will be:
This category would not, in the Department's opinion, cover people who are able to communicate orally but whose speech may be slow or difficult to understand, for example because of a severe stammer.
In considering an application on these grounds the local authority may accept receipt of PIP, with a score of at least eight points for the "Communicating verbally’’ activity, as providing an automatic entitlement to the Concession. Further detail on passporting eligibility from PIP, including details of the descriptors indicating an award of eight points or more, is provided at Annex A. Alternatively, where PIP has not been applied for, or where insufficient points have been awarded, authorities may reasonably require medical evidence to support the application.
To qualify under this category, a person would have to have a long term and substantial disability that means they cannot walk or which makes walking very difficult.
It is envisaged that passes will be issued to people who can only walk with excessive labour and at an extremely slow pace or with excessive pain. Their degree of impairment should be at comparable level to that described in the "Guidance on assessing ability to walk" box below. Where an applicant has been awarded PIP, with an award of eight points or more for the "Moving around” activity, or the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (HRMCDLA), a relevant benefit award letter may be accepted as evidence of an automatic entitlement to the travel concession (see Annex A for details). Where the specified rates of PIP or DLA have not been awarded, or where these benefits have not been applied for, applicants may still be found eligible if assessed using the criteria below:
If they can only walk up to 27 metres without severe discomfort then they will qualify for the statutory concession.
It does not matter whether the severe discomfort occurs at the time of their walk or later. What counts is that the discomfort is a direct result of their attempt to walk.
i. epilepsy (unless it is of a type which does not pose a danger - see below);
ii. severe mental disorder;
iii liability to sudden attacks of giddiness or fainting (whether as a result of cardiacdisorder or otherwise);
iv. inability to read a registration plate in good light at 20.5 metres (with lenses if worn);
v. other disabilities which are likely to cause the driving of vehicles by them to be a source of danger to the public.
(a) People with restricted visual fields, who will be refused a licence if they do not have a horizontal field of vision of at least 120 degrees, or if they have significant scotoma encroaching within 20 degrees of the central fixation point in any meridian or, sometimes, if they have restricted vertical fields of vision;
(b) Insulin dependent diabetics. In general people with insulin dependent diabetes can continue to drive - though their licence may be renewable on a 1, 2, or 3-yearly basis. However, where the person experiences disabling hypoglycaemia they will be prevented from driving until their diabetes is controlled.