Blind or reduced vision equipment
If you are Blind or have reduced vision, there is a range of equipment that can support you with work or study, or to live safely in your home. Find out about some common types of equipment and what is funded by Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People.
Who can get equipment
You may be able to get Ministry funded equipment if you are:
- a New Zealand resident or usually live in New Zealand (for 6 months out of the year or more), and
- Blind, Deafblind or have reduced vision that isn't covered by ACC.
This equipment may be provided to you at no charge.
If you can't get Minstry funded equipment, there are also hearing and vision services across the country that may be able to offer support.
For example, Blind Low Vision NZ external URL . This organisation provides a range of services for members who are Blind, Deafblind or have vision loss, including instructors to help you learn skills for everyday activities, mobility canes, communication and employment, equipment, counselling and guide dogs. You can call them on 0800 24 33 33.
Types of equipment
Here are some examples of equipment that are funded by our Ministry.
Low cost and high cost equipment
An assessor will work with you to identify what equipment you need to be safe and independent at home and in the community.
They may recommend low cost or medium cost equipment like:
- mobility canes
- screen-reading software
They may also recommend high cost equipment, like sonar canes to help you get around.
An optometrist or eye specialist can assess if you need glasses.
They will apply to Accessible or Enable New Zealand for funding if you need them.
To get funding, glasses must be essential for you to:
- be safe and independent at home
- work or study to your maximum capacity, or
- look after family who depend on you.
Your corrected vision must also be within a certain range:
- 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.
Children 15 years and under may also be able to access the Children's Spectacle Subsidy for glasses.
How to get equipment
An assessor will work with you to complete an assessment of your needs. 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.
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.
If you need equipment they will send an application on your behalf to Accessable external URL (if you live in Auckland or Northland) or Enable New Zealand external URL (if you live in the rest of New Zealand).
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.
Accessable and Enable New Zealand can also repair equipment and collect it when you no longer need it (not including glasses).