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Living with Deafblindness

Out and About

When we are out and about, technologies can make us feel safe, more comfortable, and help us engage and communicate with those around us. In this section we will cover:

  • Loop Hearing Systems
  • Mobility related technologies

Loop Systems

Most hearing aids and cochlear implants are fitted with a “T” Switch (the “T” means Telecoil). Digital hearing aids and cochlear implants may need to be programmed by an audiologist to activate them for use with Telecoil.

When a hearing aid is switched to the “T” position sounds will only be received by the hearing aid or implant via a loop system. Sounds are converted to a magnetic signal via an induction loop or auditory loop. These signals are then picked up by the Telecoil in the hearing device. When no longer using the loop system the “T” switch will need to be changed back to the usual setting. Neck loops, portable loops, and fitted room loop systems all work on a similar principle. To use this function, you must check whether your telephone is compatible for use with Telecoil.

Loop systems can improve the clarity of sound by reducing echo and background noise for:

  • One-to-one conversations
  • Conversations in meetings/educational settings
  • Television and other audio equipment

With advances in technology, FM systems are being used as an alternative to loop systems.

Room Loop Systems

Room loop systems are set up with a loop amplifier connected to a cable fitted around the perimeter of the room. Hearing aid users positioned inside the loop receive sounds with reduced background noise. Portable loop systems are another option. A loop works only with hearing aids that are T-switch equipped.

Many public places that have loop systems installed will display this symbol.


People who have deafblindness may benefit from a mobility aid to increase confidence when out and about and to aid independence.

Canes used by people with a vision impairment are usually white. They usually have a red reflective strip for added visibility.

Note: Consult an Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialist for advice when considering a mobility aid. An assessment and training in the correct use of a cane are recommended. Using the wrong type or length of cane can affect a person’s posture and possibly put them at risk of accidents and/or injury.


Identity Cane (ID Cane)

  • Used to indicate that a person has a vision impairment
  • Not intended to be used for physical support
  • Sizes range from 80cm to 105cm
  • The cane folds into four pieces for easy storage

Long Cane

  • Requires training by an O&M Instructor
  • Used to scan and detect obstacles and surface changes
  • Sizes range from 110cm to 130cm
  • Children’s long canes range in size from 55cm to 80cm
  • The cane folds into four pieces for easy storage

Sturdy Aluminium Support Cane

  • White reflective colour to indicate vision impairment whilst providing physical support
  • Seek advice from an O&M Specialist and/or Physiotherapist to ensure correct length and training in the use of this cane

Canes with different tips and handles

Canes with different tips and handles

Out and About – Accessories

When accessing the community, consider using accessories such as UV shields or a peak cap. Both can help to minimise glare to enable a person to make the best use of any remaining vision. Other useful items include coin holders or a money gauge to identify notes. These items can reduce stress when dealing with money.

Cane Tips

There are different types, styles, and sizes of cane tips depending on preference and how the cane will be used.

Noir UV Shields

  • Reduces discomfort of glare without reducing vision
  • Reduces exposure to UV rays including protection to peripheral vision
  • Available in small and large frames with different filters
  • Fit over spectacles

Coin Holder

  • Assists in identifying coins
  • Available for different sized coins
  • Helps to organise money before going out
  • Reduces the stress of sorting through loose change when shopping
  • Wallets are another option with separate sleeves to assist in identifying

Sonar smart bands and clips

New to the market are products such as sonar smart bands and clips. Using sonar technology, these bounce in-audible sounds from obstacles back to the band or clip (similar to the echolocation used by bats and dolphins). The device can indicate to the user how far or close obstacles may be through vibration. They can identify different obstacles at different distances and moving obstacles. Please discuss with your treating therapist if you think this may be beneficial.

Smart technologies

There are rapidly increasing uses for smart technologies that may be beneficial in the community. An example is using a smartphone or smartwatch instead of a wallet, by storing your debit card on the phone. This is done by downloading your card into your digital wallet. This works for tap-and-go services in the community without having to identify the correct card in your wallet. Other advances have included wayfinding through haptics in your mobile phone or smartwatch, and auditory cues about your environment using your smartphone.

Please talk to your treating OT on how you can use your existing smart devices to assist you when out and about in the community.

Deafblind Information Australia is not a supplier of any equipment listed here. Some Australian suppliers can be found in our Find Services pages.