For People With Vision Loss

Vision Loss

If you are finding it difficult to perform your daily tasks or errands outside home, you may wish to contact Guide Dogs Singapore for training. We train our clients on the critical skills needed to live as independently as possible. They include Orientation & Mobility skills, daily living skills and IT skills. Our goal is to help you regain your normal routine as much as possible.

Our training is provided free of charge or at a nominal fee for citizens and permanent residents.
Contact us or call 6339 7900 to find out more.

Download Referral Form

If you wish to purchase the white canes and/or tinted glasses, do contact us too.

You may also wish to tap on schemes by SGEnable for people with disabilities.

Common Types of Vision Loss

Below is a visual demonstration to show the different types of vision loss.

  • Cataract
    Thick film covers the eyes, sensitive to glare.

Normal VisionCataract
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
    The body is unable to produce enough insulin to convert sugar to energy, leading to a buildup of sugar in the blood. Diabetic retinopathy happens when blood vessels in the eye rupture and causes patches of blurry vision.

Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
    Glaucoma is a result of damaged optic nerves caused by the buildup of eye fluid and increased eye pressure. Glaucoma affects your side vision and can eventually cause tunnel vision.
Early Stage Glaucoma
Normal VisionEarly Stage Glaucoma
Late Stage Glaucoma
Normal VisionLate Stage Glaucoma
  • Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
    Above 50 yrs old, black spots appearing in central vision or straight lines looking wavy. Difficulties in reading or recognising faces. These are some common signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is an eye condition affecting your central vision.

    There are two types of AMD – wet and dry. Wet AMD is caused by an abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye, leading to the leakage of blood and proteins into the sensitive cells in the macula. This causes damage and vision loss. There is no exact cause of dry AMD but the condition occurs as the eye ages.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)
    Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is a group of inherited, degenerative eye conditions that affects the retina. People with RP may experience gradual loss of side vision and poor night vision, commonly starting from their teenage years.
Early Stage RP
Normal VisionEarly Stage RP
Late Stage RP
Normal VisionLate Stage RP
Night Blindness in RP
Normal VisionNight Blindness in RP

General Resources for People with Vision Loss

Types of Canes You Can Use and Cane Tips

If you are a white cane user or considering using one to improve your safety and mobility, you can find out more via VisionAware website. White canes should only be used in conjunction with proper training by Orientation & Mobility Specialists. We provide the first white cane at no cost to clients who embark on a training programme with us.

VisionAware – Canes
GDS Orientation & Mobility

Tips, Techniques and Useful Equipment

There are many tips and techniques you can learn on your own to retain your independence. The link to VisionAware below provides useful resources for you to manage your daily tasks. Our Specialists can support you in this area too. We can help you with home modification to create a space in which you can easily and safely carry out essential daily tasks. Training is conducted at your residence to ensure the equipment and space used are familiar to you, the client.

VisionAware – Essential Skills for Everyday Living
GDS Independent Living Skills

GDS Resource Videos

Systematic search pattern strategies

What happens when someone with visual impairment drops something? Here’s a tutorial covering two systematic search pattern strategies to locate the dropped object - The Zigzag method and The Fan method. Disclaimer: The purpose of this tutorial is to share a safe and efficient way of locating the dropped object. Instructions taught in this video are based on accredited Orientation and Mobility (O&M) handbooks. This tutorial is created to provide some useful information for persons with visual impairment who would like to maintain their O&M skills whilst being at home. It is not exhaustive and modifications are sometimes made by the specialist to accommodate personal health issues.

Posted by Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd on Sunday, 12 July 2020
Identifying and Differentiating Bottles

Identifying similar bottles can be extremely challenging especially when you’re in a rush! In this video, we’ll be sharing two methods to differentiate bottles using rubber bands and stickers! To purchase the pop-up stickers, please find it here: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32525424073.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.3da24c4dbx39jl" Note: Don't forget to participate in our ongoing contest to stand a chance to win a pair of Cathay movie tickets! Find out more details at https://tinyurl.com/petschanginglives

Posted by Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd on Monday, 18 May 2020
Cutting Technique Tutorial

In this tutorial, we’ll cover two methods to cut even pieces off your fruits and vegetables. We’ll first practice using a dull butter knife. Once you’ve gained confidence in handling the ingredients and your cutting techniques, you can then move on to practice with a sharper knife. You will need: A tray A bowl A chopping board A butter knife Couple of tomatoes and banana Do let us know down in the comments below which method you prefer and share with us any other methods you know! Keep trying, stay home, and stay safe! Disclaimer: Methods of independent living skills vary according to one's level of blindness and current skills. Please note that these lessons are basic and generic, and you should improvise accordingly. If unsure, always reach out to our Specialists at GDS before attempting. Please feel free to leave comments or questions.

Posted by Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd on Monday, 4 May 2020

Guide Dog Users

Download the Guide Dog User Manual (abridged version) to read more about guide dog care and management.

Cane or Canine

This is a group information session to give participants a better understanding of the differences between white cane and Guide Dog use. It is aimed at vision-impaired individuals who are evaluating their mobility options. If you are keen to know more, please contact us.

How to Handle Rejections and Access Issues

The law allows for Guide Dogs to access all public places and transport, with the exception of places with critical hygiene controls* or potential danger**. However, some people are not aware of this. Hence, this might result in Guide Dog users being turned away or refused entry.

* E.g. Operating theatres and intensive care units in hospitals
** E.g. The zoo, where dogs can be viewed as prey to some animals

We would like to share some tips on how to handle access issues.

Public Areas
(e.g. shopping malls/MRT stations and bus interchanges/hawker centres)

  • Explain that you have a Guide Dog with you.
  • Let the person know that Guide Dogs are allowed in public places.
  • You can make a request to speak to the person’s manager (most higher management are aware of Guide Dog access).
  • If you are aware of signages that have been put up to indicate that Guide Dogs are welcome, refer to them (e.g. most MRT stations).

Shops and Other Establishments
(e.g. retail shops, restaurants, cafes)

Do note that some shops and eating places are unaware of Guide Dog access laws. They presumed that Guide Dogs are not allowed into their premises due to licensing concerns. This is often the main reason behind such rejections.

  • You can explain that you have a Guide Dog with you.
  • Let them know that a Guide Dog is allowed access into shops and eating places, and there is no need for application for a special license.
  • You can make a request to speak to the higher management (most higher management are aware of Guide Dog access).
  • If you are aware of signages that have been put up to indicate that Guide Dogs are welcome, refer to them (e.g. NTUC and Cold Storage supermarkets).
  • However, if you are still being refused entry, do avoid unnecessary confrontation and step away from the situation. If possible, ask for the person’s name and designation. In addition, you can try to remember the place and time of the incident. Subsequently, refer the details to us (Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd) and we will contact them for further clarification.

Click here to find out the legislation on guide dogs. Should you face rejections, you may also direct the staff to this section.

Oftentimes, rejection and access issues are a result of ignorance and lack of awareness.

At Guide Dogs Singapore we understand that many of our Guide Dog users face this regularly. Hence, we seek to use every opportunity to educate the public. We hope that with every access issue, at least a few more people will be made aware of the difference that Guide Dogs can make to a person’s life.

The Animal Clinic

The Animal Clinic is our designated vet clinic.

Katong Branch
Contact: 6440 4767 / 6440 2336

Clementi Branch
Contact: 6776 3450 / 6777 0273

After hours emergency contact
6333 5550

Travelling Overseas

A number of airlines allow Guide Dogs to travel with their handlers in the cabin. However, you will have to call them to make a direct booking and specify that you have a Guide Dog travelling with you. Different airlines have different protocols and documentation that need to be submitted during booking. Thus, do check with them directly.

You are reminded to enquire about the vaccination and quarantine requirements. These prerequisites govern both exit and entry of your Guide Dog to the destination country.

You will need to check with the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) about the requirements for returning with your Guide Dog from the destination country. In addition, you will need to be aware of the laws governing Guide Dog access at the destination country.

Technology for People with Vision Loss

Useful Apps

In addition to the common apps that we use on a daily basis, there are also apps that play an important role in the daily lives of someone with vision loss. This ranges from apps for transportation, to apps helping a vision-impaired individual make sense of visual content. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and serves to provide examples for certain use cases.

The following is a list of some of the commonly used apps for individuals with vision impairment:

  • Be My Eyes
    Be My Eyes is an app that provides the service of linking up people with vision impairment to a large pool of sighted volunteers to access sighted assistance. For scenarios where vision assistance is required, the vision-impaired user can access this service to get a sighted volunteer to assist. Sighted users can sign up as volunteers too.

  • BlindSquare
    BlindSquare is an accessible self-voicing navigational app on iOS that provides detailed points of interest and intersection support. It uses GPS to provide location information and also has support for indoor navigation support for environments with such implementation.

  • Flicktype Keyboard
    Featuring vision customisation to meet the needs of low-vision users and advanced algorithms for predictive typing, Flicktype Keyboard is a suitable alternative to the default keyboard for iOS.

  • Moovit
    Moovit a commonly used app for public transport, this app helps someone with vision impairment to plan their routes, get information on public transport arrival timings and offering real-time route progress.

    With Moovit, users are able to access routes based on their preferences, estimate the arrival timings of public transport, view their schedules, and receive alerts when it’s time to alight.

  • Nearby Explorer Online
    A free GPS application that provides real-time location and the ability to save a list of favourited locations for easy access. It provides direct integration to Moovit for public transportation and 4Square and Google Maps for general directions.

  • Seeing AI
    An app developed by Microsoft, it uses artificial intelligence to read text, read bar codes, recognise scenes and more. This is a free app that is widely used within the community due to its accessibility and rich feature set.

  • SuperVision+
    A magnification app on iOS that offers live stabilisation support and support different magnification scenarios. This is an app for navigation in addition to the default magnifier functionality built-in to devices running iOS 10 and above.

  • VIP Code Reader
    An accessible QR and Barcode reader for vision-impaired people. It offers audio queues and voice guidance to help users to scan such codes more conveniently.

  • VoiceDream Reader
    VoiceDream Reader is a reading tool available on both Android and iOS that provide text-to-speech functionality. Users are able to read eBooks, PDFs and more. It offers high-quality premium voices as add-ons, in addition to the native text-to-speech engines that come default with the operating system. It also offers unique intuitive reading controls and great customisation to the reading experience, which sets it apart from the default reading apps.

Web Resources

A great wealth of information for and/or related to vision impairment and accessibility can be found online. The following are some resources for accessing different services and information.

Lifestyle

Technology Resources

Online resources are available, dedicated to iOS and Android, where reviews of devices, software and app updates are shared.

  • Applevis – For Apple hardware and software
    AppleVis is the leading online resource for blind and low vision users of Apple’s range of Mac computers, the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and iPod touch.
    https://www.applevis.com/

  • Inclusive Android – For Android
    This is a platform for the community of people with disabilities who are Android users from across the world. It provides information To Promote Sight, Sound, Physical & Cognitive Digital Inclusion for people with disabilities.
    https://www.inclusiveandroid.com/

  • General Assistive Technology News
    For general publications and updates about assistive technology, the following sites offer up-to-date information about the happenings in the assistive technology space.

  • AccessWorld®: Technology and People Who Are Blind or Vision-Impaired
    It is a monthly publication with informed commentary, and cutting-edge news and trends concerning information technology and vision impairment.
    https://www.afb.org/aw

  • Cool Blind Tech
    An informative resource for assistive tech news, reviews and interviews from blind and low visions experts on emerging technologies.
    https://coolblindtech.com/

Videos

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Stories

Lionel Tan

Lionel Tan
A part-time student and gainfully employed

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Ms Dawn Sim with GDS Guide Dog

Dawn Sim, Long-time supporter of GDS
My support for Guide Dogs Singapore comes from the desire to help make a difference to somebody else’s life

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Mr Ng Cheng Teck

Ng Cheng Teck
I can go out and go home on my own, no more restrictions!

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