Visual impairment

Benefits and concessions

There are a number of benefits and concessions available to people who have a visual impairment. Many, but not all, are dependent on registration.

National (Scotland) Concessionary Travel for Blind Persons

This card is available to residents in Scottish Borders who are registered as either sight impaired (previously partially sighted) or severely sight impaired (previously blind).

The pass gives free travel on all bus, coach and rail services as well as concessions on ferries within Scotland only. This also includes travel to/from Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed.

This pass is issued free of charge.

You can apply for a pass with a plus 1 (with companion) entitlement, if you are registered as:

  • severely sight impaired (blind)
  • sight impaired (partially sighted) and in receipt of Attendance Allowance
  • sight impaired (partially sighted) and receive high or middle rate care component Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • sight impaired (partially sighted) and are in receipt of standard or enhanced daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Your companion will be able to accompany you and travel free throughout Scotland on buses only.

You do not need to buy a ticket to travel on the trains in Scotland. Just show your travel card to the conductor on the train or ticket collector at the station

Companions travelling with holders of the plus 1 'with companion' card are entitled to a 50 per cent discount on the Borders railway only. This covers single or return travel to Edinburgh from Tweedbank, Galashiels and Stow. There are time restrictions to avoid travel at the usual weekday peak times, please check with Scotrail for this.

You can apply for this pass by visitng your local contact centre. You will need to take ID as well as proof of address, a passport size photo and eligibility with you. If you have any queries, please speak with Sensory Services.

Blue Badge scheme

If you are registered severely sight impaired, you will be eligible and have an automatic entitlement to a disabled parking badge. For more information, visit the Blue Badge section.

British Wireless for the Blind

The British Wireless for the Blind Fund may be able to provide you with a suitable machine on a permanent loan basis if you:

  • have been registered as severely sight impaired (previously blind) or sight impaired (previously partially sighted)
  • are on a means tested benefit
  • do not have the funds to purchase or do not already have a suitable player

Television licence concession

You can get a 50 per cent reduction on your television licence fee if you are registered severely sight impaired (previously blind). The licence will also cover anyone who lives with you.

If you live with someone who is registered severely sight impaired, you can also benefit from the blind concession licence. You will need to transfer the licence to the name of the registered person.

People who are registered as sight impaired (previously known as partially sighted) do not qualify for the 50 per cent blind concession.

Please note that if you are aged 75 years or over then your TV licence will continue to be free until August 2020. You will continue to get a free licence if you are receiving pension credit. If you are registered as severely sight impaired and not receiving pension credit you will still be eligible for the 50 per cent reduction as mentioned above.

For more information, visit the TV licensing website

Blind person's personal income tax allowance

If you pay income tax, you could be entitled to the blind person's tax allowance. This is added to your tax-free personal allowance, so is an extra amount of income you can get each year without paying tax.

If you are on a low income or even if you don't pay any tax you may be able to transfer your blind person's allowance to your spouse or civil partner. For more information, visit HM Revenue and Customs.

Welfare benefits

There are no special benefits or pensions for people with a serious sight loss. Even if you are registered as sight impaired or severly sight impaired, you are not automatically entitled to any welfare benefits.

However, most people who are registered, depending on age and other circumstances, may be able to claim one or more of the following benefits:

For more information, visit our Benefits section.

Download the Low Vision Services information book