Important note: The government altered this rule in March 2017, so that it was no longer possible to use this particular descriptor if the difficulties were caused by psychological distress.
However, this change was found to be unlawful by the High Court, and the government has accepted this and changed this rule back to what it was before they altered it.
The upshot of all this is that if you cannot plan the route of a journey, it doesn't matter whether this is because of sensory or cognitive deficits, or because of mental health problems.

[Re following unfamiliar routes] A person should only be considered able to follow an unfamiliar journey if they would be capable of using public transport – the assessment of which should focus on ability rather than choice.

Any accompanying person should be actively navigating for the descriptor to apply. If the accompanying person is present for any other purpose then this descriptor will not apply.

Small disruptions and unexpected changes, such as road works and changed bus-stops are commonplace when following journeys and consideration should be given to whether the claimant would be able to carry out the activity if such commonplace disruptions were to occur. Consideration should also be given to whether the claimant is likely to get lost. Clearly many people will get a little lost in unfamiliar locations and that is expected, but most are able to recover and eventually reach their target location. An individual who would get excessively lost, or be unable to recover from getting lost would be unable to complete the activity to an acceptable standard.

[Re following familiar journeys] For example, a person with learning difficulties is out shopping in town. On their way home (a familiar journey), a road they would normally walk down has been closed off due to a police incident. If the person wouldn’t be able to successfully navigate an alternative route home then this descriptor would apply. If they can follow a familiar route even with minor diversions, move to descriptor D.

Safety should be considered in respect of risks that relate to the ability to navigate, for example, visual impairment and substantial risk from traffic when crossing a road. If the risk identified is due to something else, such as behaviour, this descriptor is unlikely to apply.

Last updated May 2018