The National Institute for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Deafblind
The National Institute for the Blind, Visually Impaired and Deafblind, usually referred to as „The Center“ is a public institute governed by the Ministry of Welfare. The Center provides services mainly in the rehabilitation and education area and does not provide initial medical diagnosis or medical treatment. The Center is responsible for a national database regarding visually impaired and blind individuals.
Acceptance criteria for services is visual impairment at 30% or less. Definition of low vision in Iceland is 30-10% sight and legally blind at 10% or less. The Center is also responsible for services for the deafblind.
The Center works with other institutes for appropriate services such as local services for;
- Assistance at home
- Audio library
- Hearing center for screening for hearing
All services provided, regardless of who the recipient is, are free of charge.
The center has professionals in the following areas:
- Mobility officers
- Social worker
- Educational and vocational
- Computer and technical advisors
- Braille production specialists
- Guide dog trainer
- Eye prosthesis specialist
- Referrals from ophthalmologists; most common with older clients.
- Inquiries from individuals, relatives, assistive living homes, schools, local authorities.
- Referrals from other institutions for ex. State Diagnostic and Counseling Centre (specific to children).
Objections of service:
- Eye examinations and evaluation of sight.
- Records and certificates.
- Counseling by social worker and assistance with social insurance and benefits.
- Psychological counseling.
- Educational and vocational counseling.
- Provide assistive devices and education in how to use the equipment.
- Training and education on computers, software, and related technology.
- Training in mobility and independent living.
- Assistance and counseling to schools at all levels.
- Teach Braille to students, teachers, and family.
- Custom eyewear, eye prosthesis.
- Refunds for eyewear.
- Braille and large print material and books.
- Focus regarding services is based on the individual and his/her specific needs.
- No age discrimination; whatever the customer needs, we will work with according to his / her needs and ability but not based on age.
- We hold seminars and workshops but most of the training and rehabilitation is done on individual basis particularly in mobility and orientation, computers and technology, daily living skills, social counseling, psycological counseling and educational and vocational counseling.
- It is important to provide education and knowledge to families, friends, co-workers, the immediate environment.
- Population of Iceland is 320.000.
- The center services approx. 1500 individuals (0.5% of population).
- 50% of clients are legally blind, 50% are in low vision catagories.
- 73% of clients are 67 years of age and older.
- 7% are children, 18 years of age and younger.
- 20% are adults, 18-67 years of age.
- 40% are male and 60% are female.
- 15% of clients have a combined low vision and hearing impairment, of those 83% are above 67 years of age.
- 17% of people above 67 years of age have both low vision and hearing impairment.
- Largest client group is 86-89 years old.
- Retirement age in Iceland is 67 years of age.
- Percentage of retired population is 13%, will increase in the next 30 years to 21%.
- 2.6% of the retirement population is visually impaired or blind versus average 0.5% of population in general.
- 90% of elderly clients we service live at home, only 10% in assistive living homes or nursing homes.
- The largest client group are individuals who are between 86-89 years of age.
- Because of the high age of our client group and that most of them live alone in their own home; service required are very centered around independent living.
- What most of our elderly clients request is being able to stay independent, continue to live in their own home, being able to go out without assistance, to be able to go for walks, exercise, and being able to do recreational things like handcraft.
- It is also very important to our elderly clients to continue to be active and being able to participate in social life.
- A client´s first visit to the center starts with a thorough evaluation of functional eyesight and a clinical evaluation if necessary.
- Depending on the outcome of the evaluation, further services are decided in co-operation with the client.
- Most of the elderly clients are in need of assistance with their daily chores at home.
- Since many live alone they cook their food themselves, do their laundry, and look after their financial matters on their own.
- They also need to be able to sort out their mail to be able to respond when necessary.
- Clients get appropriate visual aids, i.e. magnifying glasses, magnifying devices that connect to television sets, handheld electronic devices, CCTV, and Daisy players.
- In case the client receives a CCTV, he/she will receive several lessons on the operation of the CCTV before being assigned one.
- The white cane is available for all as necessary.
Quality of life:
- It is important to evaluate the client’s ability to operate different devices.
- Is the client mentally and physically capable of using the device offered?
- Is it certain that clients will actually use expensive devices they receive from the centre.
- The centre’s consultants visit the client’s home to assist as necessary.
- They advise on lighting in the home.
- They add focus-markers to the phone, the cooker, washing-machine, remote control, etc.
- Assist in finding the best way to watch TV and give advice on various things such as how to be able to keep enjoying recreational activities.
- The biggest concern ours clients have; is not being able to read anymore.
- Clients can be registered with Library for the Blind for audio books, the books are distributed free of charge.
- The center advises on the types of cd-players that can be used. For most of our clients, they are able to receive a Daisy player or web based players.
- The client’s wishes are a priority.
- Often the next of kin must be in the loop.
- It is essential to give the clients the time they need.
- Consultants at the centre co-ordinate their services as necessary.
The national institute in Iceland has a high percentage of elderly clients. More than 73% of clients at the institute are over the age of 67 which is the retirement age in Iceland. The majority of clients in this age group has AMD. They receives all services based on individual needs, free of charge, in the environment the client requests. Services are therefore based on the ability and the needs of the client and not age.
In all our work, we follow our values which are:
- The National Institute for the Blind, Visually Impaired, and Deafblind places great emphasis on cooperating with clients and their views and wishes must always be respected as the path to self- respect. Employees must respect each other and thereby create a team spirit.
- The National Institute with knowledge at its core aspires to eliminate prejudice and increase professionalism, initiative, and innovation.
- The National Institute works at creating equal opportunities for all in employment, leisure pursuit, and equal access to participation in society.
- The National Institute seeks to provide the best possible service for everyone that comes to the institute. Excellent service is the foundation of the institute with clients´ needs as basis.
- The National Institute works on continues improvements and seeks opportunities for progress and innovation for both individuals and professionals.