Recently we heard from some of you about things in your day-to-day life that can be frustrating when living with blindness or low vision. Our Access and Awareness Advisor, Chris Orr, gives insight into some of these.

1. The price labels at supermarkets are hard to read.

The solution is a two-pronged approach. Advocate to your own supermarket and also advocate to the head office of the supermarket chain who can influence a policy change. Don’t under estimate the power of the individual – one person might tip the balance and influence change.

2. Accessible audio books should be available in public libraries in addition to Blind Low Vision NZ’s library.

Many public libraries do have audio books in their collections. Ask your local library what audio books they hold, and if they don’t have the book you are after, request it. There are also other ways to access large libraries of audio books online which you may need to pay for such as Audible. Don’t forget our library catalogue is growing at a rapid rate. If you haven’t already joined or want to know more contact us calling 0800 24 33 33 or email info@blindlowvision.org.nz.

3. Audio announcements are needed on all public buses.

Over the next 12 months, audio announcements of bus stops will soon be on Auckland Transport’s entire bus network. This is an exciting milestone and it is our hope that other regions will follow Auckland’s lead, That’s where you can help – advocate to your local council why audio announcements are important to you and don’t be afraid to share your story on how it will help you get around.

4. Footpath challenges including placement of sandwich boards and cyclists.

Depending on the bylaws in your area (in Auckland, there should be a Continuous Accessible Path of Travel (CAPT) from the building line with a minimum width of 1.5 metres) you may have a good case to seek change if you are noticing pesky sandwich boards or other hazards. Sometimes store owners aren’t aware of the bylaws, so I would recommend popping into the shop and having a chat as the first step, and if you don’t get anywhere then find out the bylaws in your area and contact your council. Similarly, if you notice footpaths in bad condition contact your local council to get footpaths repaired. Often the local authority is unaware that maintenance needs to be done.

Blind Low Vision NZ’s position on cyclists using footpaths is that where pedestrians and cyclists have a shared path, then there should be a physical separation between the cyclist and the pedestrian – a white line separating the two is simply not enough. I sympathise with the person who wrote in on this one, as I have also had my own hairy encounters with cyclists on footpaths, and similar to e-scooters, we believe footpaths should be free from bicycles as well.

Blind Low Vision NZ is a proud member of the Access Alliance striving for accessibility legislation to be introduced in New Zealand in 2020. Find out how you can support the campaign here.