Guidance on Social Distancing if you are Blind or Partially Sighted

As our society emerges from the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, we are all learning and adapting to new measures that will help us to resume our everyday activities, such as shopping, commuting, employment, travel and recreation. These activities require social distancing and the reorganisation of some public spaces. They affect every area of life, from our homes to streets and town centres, public transport, the workplace, and leisure spaces.

Blind and partially sighted people have told us that they find social distancing difficult to maintain and would welcome clear guidance to assist them when getting out and about. As the lockdown restrictions ease, this guidance is designed to assist blind and partially sighted people to safely resume their everyday activities, within existing government and public health advice.

As Government information is subject to change, please keep up to date with current COVID-19 advice on the NI Direct website through the following link:

Contacting your Sensory Support Team

If you need some help to build up your skills and self-confidence, please contact your local Sensory Support Team. We are here to assist, just give us a call:

Belfast Health & Social Care Trust: 028 9504 0200
Northern Health & Social Care Trust: 028 2586 3800
South Eastern Health & Social Care: Trust 028 9260 7746
Southern Health & Social Care Trust: 028 3756 4444
Western Health & Social Care Trust: 028 6632 4400

Sources of Help and Support

RNIB Helpline (Freephone: 0303 123 9999) has extended its opening hours. It is now open on weekdays (from 8am-8pm) and on Saturdays (from 9am-5pm). In addition to the usual help and advice on living with sight loss, our advisers can connect you to local support, and assist you in signing up to telephone and online groups that may offer a source of comfort in these times. Through the same number, you can also access pre-recorded information on the coronavirus and the Government’s response.

Guide Dogs Covid-19 Information Line (Freephone: 0800 781 1444) is open on weekdays (from 9am-5pm). It supplies answers and information, for adults and families of children with sight loss, about living actively, independently and keeping well during the coronavirus outbreak. Whether you’re asking for yourself, a member of your family, or your child, we can offer online support and telephone services, and can help you access services from other organisations.

This information has been developed in partnership between RNIB Northern Ireland, Guide Dogs NI and Health and Social Care. These guidelines have been informed by the following:

  • Guide Dogs, “Covid-19 Recovery Guidance and Documentation: Working with a Client or Volunteer Person to Person”
  • Guide Dogs, “Information and guidance for people with vision impairment on the use of face coverings in England”
  • RNIB, “Sighted Guiding and Support Bubble Guidance”
  • RNIB, “Use of Face Coverings (England only)”
  • Action on Hearing Loss, “Face Coverings: How the regulations apply to you”.
  • The National Council for the Blind of Ireland
  • The Canadian National Institute for the Blind
  • Henshaws

Guidance on social distancing for those in Northern Ireland