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Mobility Allowance

Volume 170: debated on Thursday 19 April 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he will publish in the Official Report the guidance to be issued on the interpretation of regulation 3(1A) of the Mobility Allowance Regulations 1975.

[holding answer 18 April 1990]: The guidance which is issued, with report forms, to examining doctors is in the table.DEAF/BLIND CLAIMANTS—NOTES FOR EXAMINING DOCTORS

1. The requirement of the legislation is that there should be a measurable test of BOTH blindness and deafness. The Regulations stipulate that the degree of disablement resulting from the loss of vision amounts to 100 per cent. and that the degree of handicap resulting from loss of hearing amounts to not less than 80 per cent.
2. An assessment of 100 per cent. blindness is appropriate not only where there is a total lack of vision, but also where there is residual vision. Experience with other benefits indicates that an assessment of 100 per cent. will be appropriate where the vision is found to be less than 6/60, using both eyes whilst glasses are used; or where finger counting is not possible beyond one foot. Depending on the location and circumstances of the examination, possible methods of testing including Snellen's Chart finger-counting or E-test. Please note your findings overleaf.
3. Hearing should be tested on the basis of simple clinical examination. The test should be a simple instruction or question, shouted from just beyond one metre behind the claimant. As it must test the claimant's need to understand, rather than just the ability to react to the shout by turning the head, it should be in a form such as "Please lift your right arm" or "How old are you?" If possible the test should be conducted outdoors so that the effect of loss of hearing on the claimant's outdoor mobility problems can be properly assessed. Where an outdoor test is not possible the results should be related to the outdoors. Experience with other benefits indicates that an assessment of 80 per cent. will be appropriate where the claimant is unable to hear a shout beyond 1 metre using both ears (with aids). Please record your assessment overleaf.
4. Also, the examining doctor needs to assess the ability of the deaf/blind person to walk to any intended or required destination whilst out of doors without the assistance of another person. If a walking test is appropriate it should be carried out on the kind of surface which the claimant would normally have to cope with outdoors. Where this in not possible, the examining doctor should use medical judgement to assess walking ability in such outdoor circumstances, bearing in mind the effects of both blindness and deafness.
5. Unless it is clear beyond doubt that the specific criteria for deaf/blind people are satisfied a full test of walking ability should be undertaken (this should include balance tests, if it seems that a person needs physical support to walk). This will make it possible for a decision to be made as to whether a person qualifies under any of the criteria which apply to disabled people generally if the criteria for deaf/blind people are not fulfilled.