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About Deafblindness


Blind, vision (or visual) impairment and low vision are frequently used terms. These terms identify a person who experiences difficulties seeing, even when corrected with spectacles.


A common perception of blindness is that a person sees nothing at all and this may be the case. But there are many people who are “”legally blind” who have some vision. This may vary depending on eye condition and could be the ability to see shapes or distinguish between light and dark. A person’s vision needs to be examined to determine eligibility as legally blind. This eligibility applies for Centrelink payments such as Disability Support Pension (DSP) or the Aged Pension.
The Social Security Act 1991 requires an examination by an Eye Specialist (Ophthalmologist) of a person’s visual acuity (the ability to focus on fine detail) and peripheral vision (what can be seen in the field of vision or outer vision) to determine eligibility.
The following is the Social Security Act’s definition of permanent blindness (people who are blind):
“Permanent Blindness (DSP, Age)
When determining permanent blindness (for the purposes of Disability Support Pension or Age), these guidelines are applied:
  • corrected visual acuity on the Snellen Scale must be less than 6/60 in both eyes, or
  • constriction to within 10 degrees or less of arc of central fixation in the better eye, irrespective of corrected visual acuity, or
  • a combination of visual defects resulting in the same degree of visual impairment as that occurring in the above points.”

Vision Impairment

Vision impairment is a term used as an overall description of people who experience sight loss. A Booklet “Better Information & Communication Practices” which could be downloaded from the FaHCSIA website defines vision impairment to include “people who are blind and people who have limited vision”.
Reference: Federal Department of Family, Community and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) website currently known as Department of Social Services, open in new tab

Low Vision

The Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) states “Low vision is a consequence of the eye’s inability to function normally” Open CERA website in new tab

Download Vision Impairment Simulation PDF (PDF, 575KB)