Got any questions about NCBI services?

Here is a list of frequently asked questions to both inform and reassure you that NCBI is still here for you.

Is NCBI still open?

NCBI offices are closed for face to face appointments, charity shops and day centres are also closed. However, staff are working remotely to safely provide services over the phone and online at

Who can I talk to?

NCBI have a dedicated help line for service users, families and friends. If you need advice or emotional support ring 1800 911 250 to talk to a member of staff.  This service is available each week day from 8am until 8pm.

Where can I get advice?

You can ring NCBI’s helpline 1800 911 250 for advice. You can also visit the HSE website for credible advice at

What services can I still avail of?

NCBI keyworkers are working with service users to ensure that they have independent living aids and low vision aids. Our staff are also providing emotional support, advice and information.

NCBI’s library is online, so you can still borrow books using Bookshare and Overdrive.

Technology assistance is available to help you to access NCBI’s library, Bookshare and Overdrive. If you need information on the latest assistive technology or mainstream apps you can ring our technical support line on 1800 911 250.

If you have any questions you can ring the helpline at 1800 911 250

Is the online shop open?

Yes, the online shop is still open at

Do I still have my NCBI appointment?

Any appointments that you may have had with NCBI have been postponed and will be rescheduled as soon as it is safe to do so. If you have an issue please ring 1800 911 250

Can I still make a referral to NCBI?

Yes, you can submit a referral by calling 1800 911 250  or completing the online referral form on our website or by clicking here

What does social distancing mean?

The aim of social distancing is to significantly decrease unessential face to face contact. You can go outside for a walk to the park or into your garden if you stay more than 3 steps (2 metres) from others. You can still go grocery shopping for essentials but try to limit this to at least once a week.

What is the difference between social distancing and isolation?

If you have any symptoms of or suspect that you may have Coronavirus, you should stay home, contact your GP and avoid all contact with others. This is known as self-isolation.

When social distancing you can still go for walks and shopping for essential groceries. It is recommended that you keep a 2 metre distance from others. You should practise social distancing even if you are healthy, this will help stop the spread of the virus.

If you need more information about symptoms of Covid-19 you can visit

How can I avoid becoming socially isolated? 

We are all coming to terms with the changes COVID 19 has brought about; from changes to working practises, living arrangements, travel, social contact and gathering to meet friends and family.

There are a few simple things you can do to maintain good mental health during this time and reduce the impact of social isolation. Here are some ideas;

Keep regular sleeping patterns – don’t spend all day in bed, only to struggle sleeping at night.

  1. Keep in regular contact (by phone, email, Skype, or WhatsApp) with friends, family, and neighbours.
  2. Eat well and try to have structured meal times!
  3. Try engaging in meditation, even for 5 minutes each day, applications like Headspace and Calm could support you with   this!
  4. Keep active by engaging in exercise within your home or take a walk outdoors (abiding by social distancing advice) once a day!
  5. Ask for help! Don’t stay silent at this time… if you are feeling isolated get in contact with NCBI and discuss what supports are available to you at this time.

There are local groups and voluntary organisations setting up or already established that are ready and willing to help you at this time. Don’t wait until your situation gets worse, get in touch today on 1800 911 250!

Is it still safe to act as a sighted guide?

NCBI wishes to advise service users who utilise sighted-guide technique to wear gloves when assuming the technique as it is essential to maintain contact with a guide for safe mobility. A face mask is also advisable where available due to the close contact between the individual with sight loss and their guide.

Individuals should avoid sneezing into the crook of the elbow as advised by authorities, since individuals with sight loss hold onto the sighted-guide by holding onto their elbow. We recommend individuals rather sneeze into a disposable tissue and maintain rigorous hand hygiene practices. It is the sighted-guides responsibility to maintain social distancing while guiding an individual in the community. The use of a cane in the opposite hand may also offer an additional buffer from other members of the public.

Is it still ok to use mobility aids?

Use of a mobility aid in the community such as a symbol cane or long cane is recommended to identify to other members of the public that you have sight loss, increasing the likelihood of sensitivity and compassionate responses when faced with new challenges.

It is likely individuals mobilising independently may not be able to see new floor markings, temporary signage and have difficulty maintaining appropriate social distancing. For individuals who own an electronic travel aid like a Sunu Band or Buzz Clip they may set the aid at 2 metres to assist with maintaining social distancing.

Is it still safe to use public transport?

The availability of public transport has reduced significantly but if you must travel on public transport to access essential services during this time the following information is worth noting. Travelling at off-peak times will limit the amount of contact you have with other members of the public.

Public transport apps like Moovit and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are useful for accessing alerts with critical COVID19 information for your journey. These alerts and notifications include when a service is busy, real time information on new timetables, interruptions to services and cleaning regimes. NCBI advises service users strictly adhere to the HSE’s guidelines, maintaining hygiene protocols and restricting unnecessary movement, particularly if you are vulnerable and at risk.

What do I do if I suspect I have Covid-19?

If you suspect you have Corona Virus you should self-isolate instantly and ring your GP. Your GP will give you advice that you should follow. If you need any further help or advice you can ring the HSE’s helpline on 1850 24 1850

How do I get tested?

If you experience symptoms you should contact your GP by telephone. They will then determine if you need to be tested and will arrange this.

Are the hospital Eye Clinics and Emergency Departments open?

Here are the contact details for the different emergency eye clinics across the country.

Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Dublin:Eye ED 1800 819990 Triage system with apt only attendance

Mater, Dublin: Eye ED (01) 8034794 Triage system with apt only attendance

St. Vincent’s, Dublin: General ED (01) 2214000 present to EED covid/non covid triage

University Hospital Limerick: General ED (061) 301111 present to EED covid/non covid triage

University Hospital Cork: Eye ED (021) 4922646 Triage system with apt only attendance

University Hospital Sligo: General ED (071) 9171111 present to EED covid/non covid triage

University Hospital Galway: General ED (091) 524222 present to EED covid/non covid triage

University Hospital Waterford: Eye ED (051) 842320/842219 (9-5 Monday to Friday) otherwise for out of hours/weekends and Bank Holidays ring (051) 842354.Triage by apt only

University Hospital Letterkenny: General ED (074) 91 25888 present to EED covid/ non covid triage