Equipment for people who are blind or have reduced vision

Is it difficult for you to do everyday tasks because of your reduced vision? If you need equipment to live safely in your home, to work or study, or to look after someone who depends on you the Ministry of Health may be able to help.

There is a range of equipment which may benefit people who are blind or have reduced vision, including mobility canes, screen-reading software, magnifiers and glasses.

Who can get equipment?

If you’re a New Zealand resident living in New Zealand, are blind, Deafblind or have reduced vision, and aren’t covered by ACC you may be able to get equipment through the Ministry of Health. Equipment may be provided to you at no charge.

Children 15 years and under may be able to access a subsidy for glasses.

How can I get equipment?

An assessor completes an assessment of your needs, and may recommend glasses or other vision equipment. An assessor is usually an optometrist, eye specialist or a service coordinator for the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind. Not all optometrists and eye specialists are accredited vision assessors.

Contact Enable New Zealand on 0800 171 981 to find an assessor in your area.

The assessor identifies what equipment is needed for you to be safe and independent at home and in the community, to work or study, or to look after someone who depends on you.

To apply for Ministry of Health funding the assessor sends an equipment application to Accessable (if you live in Auckland or Northland) or Enable New Zealand (if you live in the rest of New Zealand).

Types of equipment

Equipment

An assessor might recommend equipment such as mobility canes, screen-reading software or magnifiers. High-cost equipment, such as sonar canes, to help with independent mobility will be considered if no other mobility resources meet your needs.

Glasses

An optometrist or eye specialist assesses for glasses, and applies to Accessable or Enable New Zealand if:

  • your corrected vision is within a certain range – either:
    • your corrected vision, in the better eye, does not exceed 6/24 with corrective lenses
    • you have a significant limitation in your binocular central field of vision (not less than 10° in extent in the widest diameter)
    • your overall binocular visual field has an extent of 30° or less in the widest diameter
  • and glasses are essential for you to either:
    • be safe and independent at home
    • work or study to your maximum capacity
    • look after family who depend on you.

What do Accessable and Enable New Zealand do?

Accessable and Enable New Zealand receive applications from assessors, and check these to ensure the assessor has considered the different support and equipment options available. This is so any equipment you get is suitable and the best for you. People with urgent needs usually get their equipment first.

Accessable and Enable New Zealand can repair equipment and collect it when you no longer need it (not including glasses).

For more information contact:

Accessable (Auckland/Northland)
Ph 0508 001 002
Fax 09 620 1702

Enable New Zealand (rest of New Zealand)
Ph 0800 17 1981
Fax 06 353 5876

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