Blind Low Vision NZ supported Neil Simmons, who is deafblind, with strategies to know when his smoke alarm is going off, among other things. Read more from Neil below:

Tell us about yourself

My name is Neil Simmons I am 83 years old and I started losing my sight six years ago. I was told I had Macular Degeneration I also wear hearing aids.

My sight (loss) put a stop to most of my activities. I have learnt to cope without white baiting, writing poetry, and doing my vegetable garden. (I do the weeding and the wife goes behind me replanting).

What helps you in your day to day life (any useful devices)

I am so thankful for the Blind Low Vision NZ for their help, for talking books, the scanner for reading, the speaking phone, and the local Library has been helpful.

Because I couldn’t hear the usual smoke alarms, Deafblind Services supported me to get fire officers to assess and installed smoke alarms, that connect wirelessly to flashing lights and a bed vibrator – we love that!

How did you manage during Level 4 Lockdown

I am very fortunate that we [my wife and I] are both fairly healthy and have a good relationship, which makes almost anything bearable including the lockdown.

[She is] the best cellmate I have ever had!

All hell broke loose the other night red lights flashing in the lounge and bedroom, the pillow jumping around, there was no sound as I recall, as I am unable to hear the alarm.

The wife had burnt the toast. That was the first time in a long time that it went off, and proved it still works. We’re happy about that!

If you need support with dual sensory loss, our deafblind services may be able to help. Contact us on 0800 24 33 33 or email