Sensory Support Service

The team offer a service to both adults and children.  They may be Deaf; hard of hearing; sight impaired (has replaced the definition partially sighted); severely sight impaired (has replaced the definition blind); have a Dual Sensory loss or experience tinnitus.

We provide advice and assistance about your hearing and/or sight loss.  You may be assessed for specialist equipment on the basis of an assessed need.

The team is made up of rehabilitation workers; social workers; a peer support worker; equipment officers and admin staff.  We also have a member of staff who is a Deafblind practitioner.   The Deafblind practitioner works with those individuals with visual impairments, hearing impairments and deaf blindness, supporting the identification, assessment and support of deafblind people.

We have staff trained in British Sign Language (B.S.L.) and when requested, will book interpreters for appointments with the Deaf community.

We work with the Low Vision Clinic (L.V.C.). The L.V.C. assesses and provides service users with equipment to support sight loss.  The team also work with the Audiology department.  Audiology assess, supply and fit the most appropriate digital hearing aid.

People referred to the Sensory Support Service must live in the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust area.

They must meet the criteria below:

  • Have a significant sight loss that cannot be corrected by glasses.
  • Be profoundly Deaf
  • Assessed as having a diagnosis of a hearing condition by an Audiology department.

  • Sensory Support Services in Northern Ireland (Subtitled Video)

  • Referral

    The team offices operate a duty system each day, where a duty officer can help with your query or take a referral for the team. We accept referrals from service users, carers or family members, G.P’s and other healthcare professionals and voluntary organisations. Children under the age of 18 must be referred to the team via the Trust Gateway service, on Tel: 0300 1000 300

    Referrals can also be made using the sensory support email address. This is checked daily between 9am and 1pm.  The address is

  • Out of Hours Contacts

    Please click here for emergency out of hours social work details.

    Please click here for Emergency SMS Contact Details.

    Tapsos Logo


    Members of the Deaf community can also use Tapsos which is an app available for anyone to use.  Tapsos can be downloaded from google playstore or Apple’s app store. Tapsos is free to use. Please look at the website for further details at


    The Relay UK service allows deaf, hard of hearing or people with speech difficulties in the UK alert police, ambulance, fire or coastguard services by either calling via a relay assistant or texting a message to 999 using our emergency SMS service.

    The Relay UK service lets deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired people in the UK alert police, ambulance, fire, or coastguard services by either calling via a

    Go to for more information


    1. On the Relay UK app, simply tap the 999 button and then confirm to make an emergency call – or call 18000 on your phone’s dialler.
    2. Once prompted, click ‘Join’in the app window.
    3. You’ll connect to 999 and a Relay Assistant.
    4. Tell them which service you need and follow their replies in the app’s conversation window.
    5. The 999 Operator will then connect you to the right emergency service
  • Sign Language Interpreting

    From 1st April 2023 a new service called Sign Language Interactions was introduced.

    Sign Language Interactions will provide communication support for people who are Deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing, by offering a full range of communication supports to include:

    • Face to Face Sign Language Interpreting
    • Remote Sign Language Interpreting
    • Relay Interpreters
    • Interpreters or deafblind people
    • Lip speakers
    • Electronic Notetakers
    • Speech to Text Reporting

    Sign Video is provided by Sign Language Interactions under the name of Sign Video (previously Interpreter Now).  It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    Sign Video a free, on-line remote interpreting service for British Sign Language users (BSL) and Irish Sign Language users (ISL) in Northern Ireland.  It provided the Deaf community with access to Health and Social Care services during the Covid 19 pandemic and is now established as an on-going service.  For example a Deaf person can phone their GP, optician, social worker.

    Health care staff can also phone a Deaf person through Sign Video and can book a virtual appointment.  For health staff to request a virtual or face to face booking email or phone 0333 344 7712.

    Face to face appointments can still be booked through Sign Language Interactions.

    If a Deaf person would like to check if an interpreter has been booked please text Sign Language Interactions on 07520648955

    For more information visit

  • Support Services for People with Sight Loss


    The Royal National Institute of Blind People in Northern Ireland (RNIB NI) is for everyone affected by sight loss.  If you or someone in your life have experienced sight loss, are blind or partially sighted, they offer a wide range of services, support and information to help.

    Address: Victoria House, 15-17 Gloucester Street, Belfast BT1 4LS

    RNIB helpline 0303 123 9999  8am – 8pm weekdays, 9 -1 pm Saturdays.


    Sense Northern Ireland 

    Sense upport children and adults with complex disabilities across Northern Ireland.

    Phone: 028 9335 5665

    Sense Nursery

    Phone: 028 90852031

    85 Jordanstown Road,
    Country Antrim,
    Northern Ireland
    BT37 0QE


    Angel Eyes NI

    Address: Forthriver Business Park, 385 Springfield Rd, Belfast, BT12 7DG

    Tel: 07775 873072


    Blind Veterans UK

    Blind Veterans UK helps vision-impaired ex-Servicemen and women to rebuild their lives after sight loss.  They provide rehabilitation, training, practical advice and emotional support to veterans regardless of how or when they lost their sight. They are here to help blind veterans regain their independence and live the life they choose.

    Phone: on 0300 111 22 33.
    Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm, excluding public and bank holidays.

    Write to:
    Blind Veterans UK
    126 Fairlie Road
    SL1 4PY

    Torch Trust UK

    If you are living with sight loss, Torch is here for you. They offer a personal service through our client careline. A member of their friendly team answers the phone and helps to signpost you to whichever service you are interested in.

    Office hours are Monday 9.30am to 4pm, Tuesday and Wednesday 9am to 4pm, and Thursday 10am to 4pm.

    Phone: 01858438260


     Deaf Blind UK

    If you or someone you know is living with sight and hearing loss, they’re here to help. They are here every step of the way to reassure, advise or just to be someone to turn to if there is no one else. They provide practical help, emotional support, help with technology, information, advice and even holidays to anyone who needs it.

    Phone: 0800 132320


    Macular Society

    Every day, around 300 people are diagnosed with macular disease.  It’s the biggest cause of sight loss in the UK.  Macular disease is cruel and isolating. It steals your sight, your independence, and your ability to do the things you love.

    It can affect people of any age — even children — but not enough is known about why, and there is still no cure.

    Advice and Information Service: 0300 3030111

    Guide Dogs

    When someone loses their sight, Guide Dogs Northern Ireland is there to make sure they don’t lose their freedom as well.

    They want to change the way that sight loss affects people’s lives. To do this, they help everyone with sight loss – and their families – through life-changing mobility services to adults, children and young people with sight loss throughout NI.

    They also work to break down barriers by campaigning alongside people living with sight loss to ensure that they can get out and about on their own terms.

    Phone: 0800 781 1444

    Call the Guide Line to speak to an expert who can provide information and advice for yourself, your child or a family member. They are open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.


    Lisburn Outlook

    They are an organisation set up to promote social, cultural and recreational activities amongst blind and partially sighted people in the Lisburn area.


  • Subtitled Video Resources
  • Activities for people with sight loss

    Indoor Bowling Club

    Bowling Club for people with a visual impairment.

    Meets: every Wednesday afternoon, 2pm – 4pm, October-March

    Pickie Bowling Club, Bangor

    Cost £10 membership per year, refreshments £1 per week

    Own transport required

    Contact: Jill Breadon 9182 7981

    Outdoor Bowling Group

    Bowling Club for people with visual impairment

    Meets: every Wednesday afternoon

    2pm – 3.30pm, May-September

    Pickie Bowling Club, Bangor

    No cost, No refreshments

    Own transport required

    Contact: Jill Breadon 9182 7981, Joe Bourke 07532 758 755

    Walking Group

    For people with a visual impairment living in the South Eastern Trust area.  Must be fit enough to follow a set walk.

    Meets:  2nd Tuesday of every month (excluding Bank holidays and July & August)

    Cost £5 per year plus entrance fees

    Contact: Laura Cromie (Rehabilitation Worker) 9151 0136

    Apple Group

    Advice and support group for people with a visual impairment who use an Apple device eg iPod, iPad, iTouch or iPhone.

    Contact:  Laura Cromie (Rehabilitation Worker) 9151 0136

    10 Pin Bowling Group

    For those with a visual impairment who would like to play ten pin bowling

    If interested please contact David

    Contact: David Magowan 9127 4162

    Men’s Group

    Support and social occasion for men with a visual impairment living within the South Eastern Trust area. Has a variety of activities

    Meets: 3rd Thursday of every month (excluding Bank holidays and July and August)

    Contact: Karen Uprichard (Rehabilitation Assistant) 9151 0136

    Pilates Group

    Physical activity group for people with a visual impairment

    Contact: Ken Carson 07753 599 985

    Torch Fellowship Group

    A Christian based fellowship group open to all people with a visual impairment from the Bangor, Newtownards, Donaghadee and Holywood areas.

    Meets: At present only running in Lisburn & Belfast.  If interested please contact Joe Bourke 07532 758 755

    Bangor Macular Group

    A self-help support group for anyone diagnosed with macular Degeneration.  Relatives and carers welcome.

    Meets: 1st Tuesday of every month, 10.30am – 12pm The Hub, Hamilton Road, Bangor

    Contact: Elaine Orwin 02891 454 099

    Blind Veterans (previously St Dunstan’s)

    Organisation for ex service personnel with a visual impairment and PSNI, Fire Service and Ambulance Service personnel, who acquired visual impairment as a result of injury whilst on duty, or after retirement.

    Various support and activities

    Contact:  Jack Hadnum 02891 640077 / 07934 452 614

    CAN (Campaign Active Network)

    Campaigns Group supported by RNIB

    Meets: First Friday of every other month, 12.00 noon  – 1.30pm

    Carnegie Library, Hamilton Road, Bangor

    Contact: Ken Carson 07753 599 985

    Audio Book Club

    Book club for people with a visual impairment.  Books and audio devices discussed.

    Meets: 1st Tuesday of every month, 2pm – 3.30pm, The Ava Bar, Bangor

    Contact:  Ken Carson 07753 599 985

    **Also online members welcome**

    Tandem Cycling Club

    Bangor cycling club have 4 tandems and trained pilot riders to enable visually impaired people to cycle.

    At present not running.

    For enquiries contact Disability Sport – 02890 469925

    Craft Club

    Programme of various craft activities for people with sight loss.

    Meets: 4th Tuesday of every month, 11 – 1pm, North Down Community Network, 25 – 27 Main Street, Bangor

    Small charge to cover cost of room and materials.

    Contact:  Ken Carson 07753 599 985

    RNIB Connect Groups

    Read aloud.

    Various reading materials read out by various speakers and then discussed.

    Meets: 1st Wednesday of every month, Ards Library, Regent Street, Newtownards, 11am – 12pm

    Contact: Una Mulgrew (RNIB) 07702 140 761

    Ards Brunch

    Coffee and chat – targeting visually impaired people but all welcome.

    Meets: 3rd Wednesday of every month, Regency Café, 5 Regent Street, Newtownards, 11am – 12.15pm

    Contact: Una Mulgrew (RNIB) 07702 140 761

  • Other Groups

    Social and friendship Group

    This is a social networking group of adults of all ages with a range of disabilities who want to meet for coffee/lunch and a chat.

    Meets: 2nd Monday of every month, 1pm-3pm

    Contact:  Joe Bourke 9146 2601

    Park Run

    Meets: Every Saturday

    Time: 9.30am

    Venue: Ward Park, Bangor, BT20 4JZ

    **Some volunteers have been trained to be sighted guides**

    For further details see website.

    University of the Third Age (U3A)

    Offers a range of educational programmes and leisure activities to people who are no longer in full time employment.

    For further details see website – North Down and Ards U3A

    Boccia (Ards)

    Boccia is a seated bowls game, played individually or in teams, including skill and tactical play.  For adults of all ages with a range of disabilities.

    Meets: Every Friday, 11am-1pm, St. Marks, Ards

    Cost:  £2.50

    **Bring own lunch**

    Contact: Susan Bourke 07810865022

    Kilcooley Women’s Centre

    Kilcooley Women’s Centre offers a wide range of training and education courses for women.  Courses on offer include CLAIT, Introduction to IT, ECDL, Word Processing, GCSE Maths, English, History, Sociology, Glass Painting, Nutrition, Women studies and much more.  All women are welcome to enrol and you do not have to live in the Kilcooley Area.

    Kiddie Academy, our on-site crèche is available while the women take part in their education and caters for pre-school children.

    Contact: 02891 478292

    North Down Community Network

    North Down Community Network exists to help people to help themselves. They run a range of weekly activities and provide information about other local groups and activities.

    NDCN Wellbeing Centre

    25-57 Main Street
    02891 461 386

  • Further Support Organisations

    Support Services for People with Hearing Loss



    Royal National Institute of the Deaf

    RNID’s Contact Centre provides information and support for anyone who is deaf, has hearing loss or tinnitus. Get in touch via email at; live chat; call 0808 808 0123; Text 07360 268 988 or use SignLive, their BSL translation service.

    The centre is run by people with lived experience, who can help wherever you are on your journey for as long as you need.

    We can also help you make a donation, manage your membership, or connect you to our volunteering team.

    Open 8:30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.


    British Deaf Association (BDA)


    British Deaf Association Access and Inclusion Advocacy Service is a regional advocacy service that facilitates, supports and ensures equitable access to Health and Social Care services for Deaf Sign Language users, in partnership with health and wellbeing providers.


    For enquiries relating to community advocacy, personal advocacy and community development contact the Belfast, Southern and South Eastern Officer Alice Johnston at




    The Kinghan Church for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

    The Kinghan Church (KC) in Botanic Avenue functions as a worshipping community of Deaf and hearing loss persons. In addition, other services are available in the form of individual and family support, interpretation at particular events and assistance to Presbyterian ministers who require specialist help.
    Address: 13 Botanic Avenue, Belfast BT7 1JG
    Tel:   (0)28 9032 2588 (Voice/Minicom)
    Fax:  (0)28 9032 9238

    Email:   Website:

    The Kinghan Church has a lunch club which meets every Thursday 12noon – 2pm. People bring their own lunch 3 times a month. The lunch club takes a break over the summer months.




    Christian Fellowship Church (CFC)


    Starting from August 2023 BSL interpreters are available at the following Sunday services:


    First Sunday of every month at 10.30am in CFC Antrim (2 Lough Road, Antrim, BT41 4DG) AND 10am in CFC East (10 Belmont Road, Belfast, BT4 2AN)

    Third Sunday of every month at 10am in CFC East

    Services in CFC East are recorded and available on YouTube: Christian Fellowship Church – YouTube


    Sign Language Community (SLC) meet on the first Sunday of every month at 7.30pm in the Café at CFC East SLC service on the second and fourth Sunday of every month at 12noon in the Café at CFC East.


    These services are also recorded and available on YouTube: CFC Sign Language – YouTube


    Open Door meet for tea/coffee, a friendly chat, cooked lunch as well as activities and talks the last Thursday of every month 10.30am – 2pm in CFC Café


    Please contact the SLC mobile to check any of the above information – 07383 823 461


    Address: 10 Belmont Road, Belfast, BT4 2AN

    Phone: (028) 9067 1838










    South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust


    The South Eastern Trust in the Ards and North Down area support two local Deaf groups. These are for people who are Deaf and use Sign Language (B.S.L).  One is an educational meeting to discuss local issues that affect the Deaf community. The other is a social meeting once a month for a chat and cuppa.  If you would like to find out more please contact Karen Uprichard at or or mobile 07971334610.


    The Sensory Support team in Ards and North Down run an ad-hoc ‘Introduction to Lipreading’ 8 week programme.

    Dates – to be arranged.

    Venue – Bangor or Ards

    Contact – Karen Uprichard at 9151 0136 or to register your interest.

    Waiting list held.  Open to service users living within the South Eastern Trust area


    The Sensory Support team in Down and Lisburn run an ad hoc ‘Introduction to Lipreading’ 8 week programme.

    Dates – to be arranged.

    Venue – Downpatrick or Lisburn

    Contact – Leave a message in the Lisburn office for Deborah Brunty on 02892607746 to register your interest.

    Waiting list held.  Open to service users living within the South Eastern Trust area


    The Sensory Support Team, through Mary Kyle, supports Deaf groups in the Lisburn and Down areas. These groups are the Lisburn Down Deaf Group; the Lisburn Deaf Woman’s Group, the Lisburn Deaf Men’s Group and the Downpatrick Deaf Men’s Group.


    For details about these please contact Mary Kyle on mobile               or the Lisburn Sensory Support office on (028) 9260 7746 and leave a message.


    Open to service users living in the South Eastern Trust area.


    Sense Northern Ireland  We support children and adults with complex disabilities across Northern Ireland. There are around 52,000 people with complex disabilities in Northern Ireland.


    Carrickfergus, County Antrim 

    Phone: 028 9335 5665

    Unit 3 – 6 CEAL, 8 Meadowbank Road
    County Antrim
    BT38 8YF

    Newtownabbey, County Antrim 

    Phone: 028 9083 3430

    The Manor House,
    51 Mallusk Road
    County Antrim
    BT36 4RU

    Sense Nursery

    Phone: 028 90852031

    85 Jordanstown Road,
    Country Antrim,
    BT37 0QE

    Email:   Link:  Sense Northern Ireland – Sense

    If you or someone you know is living with sight and hearing loss, we’re here to help. We are here every step of the way to reassure, advise or just to be someone to turn to if there is no one else. We provide practical help, emotional support, help with technology, information, advice and even holidays to anyone who needs it.

    Link: Deafblind UK | Supporting Deafblindness in the UK

    Phone number: 0800 132320

    Hearing Dogs for Deaf People

    This charity provides a wide range of personalised hearing support services and trains highly skilled hearing dogs – because nobody with hearing loss should feel alone.

    We understand that hearing loss affects far more than a person’s ears. The consequences can impact on every part of their life; relationships, status at work, confidence and self-esteem.

    This is why we offer personalised hearing support services that provide emotional and practical help for people whatever their hearing level.

    Tinnitus UK is the new name for British Tinnitus Association.  We provide free support to anyone with tinnitus or caring for someone with tinnitus.  That’s why we are leading the charge for more investment in tinnitus research.  That’s why we are connecting the research community to people living with tinnitus to ensure those searching for new treatments and a cure understand the impact of tinnitus on everyday lives.


    Phone number: 0114 2509933


    Action Deaf Youth

    Offers youth support, to deaf children and young people aged 11-25 all over Northern Ireland. Our skilled team supports young people to grow in self-confidence, develop through positive relationships and to actively participate with their peers and communities. Please see website for activities such as play sessions for deaf children, play therapy for deaf children and sign camps for deaf children.

    Our youth groups provide opportunities for deaf teens to meet across Northern Ireland. We provide a fun packed weekly youth club for deaf young people to come together to explore ways of managing and owning their deafness, enabling them to develop skills and improve their positive well-being.


    Address: 385 Holywood Road, Belfast BT4 2LS ·

    Contact: 028 9099 2779


    The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS)

    The national charity dedicated to creating a world without barriers for deaf children and young people. They represent the interests and campaign for the rights of all deaf children and young people from birth to 25 years old.

    Their work encompasses:

    • Advice, guidance and support for families
    • Online events for families and young people
    • Professional Training
    • Policy & Campaigns


    Address: The NICVA Building, 61 Duncairn Gardens BT15 2GB

    Information and Free phone help line number: 0808 800 8880

    Listen hEAR

    A local parents support group which covers the Saintfield area.  From September 2023 the group plan to meet up on the last Sunday afternoon every other month in Killyleagh Community Centre.   For details of the group there is a private Facebook group – Listen hEAR or contact Hannah, current Chairperson on mobile 07944 531 139.

    Details correct as of July 2023


  • Relay UK


    What is Relay UK?

    Our app makes those all-important phone calls easier. Simply type what you’d like to say and our assistant will relay the conversation in real-time. Relay UK brings relay services for deaf, hard-of-hearing, and speech-impaired people right up to date with the latest app technology.  You don’t need any special kit – just download the app from the App Store, Google Play or the Microsoft Store onto your smartphone, tablet, or computer

    Conversations are easy to manage and relaxed. For fluent communication with anyone, anywhere, use Relay UK.

    How to use Relay UK

    1. Download the app

    You can download the Relay UK app for iOS devices and the Relay UK Desktop app for Mac computers from Apple’s App Store, or download Relay UK for Android devices from the Google Play Store.

    For Windows 10 PCs, you can Get Relay UK from the Microsoft Store.

    2. Linking your number

    The first time you open the app, you’ll need to link your phone number so that the app can connect to the calls you make and receive.

    Tip: You only need to link an individual phone number to the app once. You can link more numbers later – and a number can be linked to the app on other devices too.

    3. Setting your communication preference

    Deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech-impaired?

    For all versions of the Relay UK app, select how you want to communicate. You’ll be prompted to do this after you’ve linked your number and before you start using the app, and it will help our Relay Assistants better handle your calls.

    You can choose from:

    –       I’ll be typing and reading (suitable if you’re deaf or hard-of-hearing)

    –       I’ll be typing and hearing (recommended if you’re speech-impaired, as this mutes the line)

    –       I’ll be speaking and reading (use if you’re deaf or hard-of-hearing and can talk clearly)

    If you want to change your communication preference later, just choose the one you want under ‘Settings’ and ‘Relay preferences’.

    4. Option to Back up & restore your data

    If you’re using the Relay UK app on an iPhone, iPad or Android device*, you can back up your Favourite phrases, Relay preferences and Saved calls to your cloud account. This allows you to restore this data if you install Relay UK to a new device, or if you need to reinstall to your existing device at a later date.

    Allow the app to back up data before you finish setting up, or change this in ‘Settings’ under ‘Cloud backup’ at a later time.

    This feature isn’t currently available on the Windows 10 Desktop or Mac computer versions of the app.

    * Relay UK is not supported on Chromebook

    5. Done

    You’re now set up and ready to go!

    You can now use the app to make and answer calls



  • RNID Hearing Aid User Support Services

    Click Here for RNID Near You Support Sessions for NHS Hearing Aid Users 2024.

  • ID card for people with sight loss
  • Disability Training video (Subtitled)
Four service users with guide dog on a beach walk

Contact Details

North Down and Ards Area

Minicom: (028) 9151 0137
Mobile: 0773 428 2646
Fax: (028) 9151 0145

Call us(028) 9151 0136

Down Area

Minicom: (028) 4461 4744
Mobile: 0773 987 9556
Fax: (028) 9041 1897

Call us (028) 4461 6915

Lisburn Area

Minicom: (028) 9260 3120
Mobile: 0773 987 9554
Fax: (028) 9041 1369

Call us(028) 9260 7746