Outlook: Autumn 2020

Blind Low Vision NZ, formerly Blind Foundation

Adapted in accordance with Section 69 of the Copyright Act 1994 by the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, for the sole use of persons who have a print disability.

Produced 2020 by Accessible Formats Service, Blind Low Vision, Auckland, New Zealand

This edition is a transcription of the following print edition:

Published by Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind

Copyright 2020

ISSN 2703-4216

Transcriber’s Notes

Images have been omitted; image captions have been retained.

If reading this volume on a portable braille device, note that this e-text is unproofed by touch.

Cover Information

Cover photo: Jackson Paraha

Shopping independently with blindness and low vision:

  • Finding shops
  • Inside the shop
  • The accessible future

Feedback on our services

Blind Low Vision NZ is committed to providing high quality services to all its clients.

To provide feedback on our services, please contact Denise Kitto, National Manager National Services, at feedback@blindlowvision.org.nz or C/- Private Bag 99941, Newmarket, Auckland 1149.
Please get in touch if your vision needs change on 0800 24 33 33.




The inside word: Message from the Chair and Chief Executive • Covid-19 • Introducing our regional service model • Eye health Aotearoa develops seven-point plan: Page 2

Feature: Shopping independently with blindness or low vision: Page 13

People: Celebrating 130 Years: Page 18

Everyday living: Accessible religious content to practice your faith • Sharing tips on personal grooming with vision loss: Page 24

Community: Life without limits around the country • Message from parents of Vision Impaired NZ (PVINZ) • Consumer organisation contact details: Page 29

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The Inside Word

Hello to All

Welcome to the 2020 Autumn edition of Outlook, our flagship publication aiming to keep you up to date with what’s going on at Blind Low Vision NZ and to share helpful information and stories featuring some of the great people in our community.

Covid-19 Update

We want you to have the support you need to get through the Covid-19 crisis. If your vision has worsened or you don’t have access to the essentials such as food or medicine, please get in contact and we will help in any way we can—0800 24 33 33, info@blindlowvision.org.nz

You may have been contacted by a member of our team to check in on your health and wellbeing and make sure you have access to the essentials. We want no one left behind during the Covid-19 crisis and we have joined with blind, low vision and deafblind organisations to make sure we are doing everything we can to support you.

It has been an honour to be classed as an essential service and at Alert Level 2 we can look at resuming face-to-face client visits.


Covid-19 Level Alert Recovery Plan

What it means for you:

Level 2—Reduce:

The disease is contained, but the risk of community transmission remains.

  • Essential services designation now applied across the organisation. Operational decisions to be based on Alert Levels by a town, city, and territorial local authority, regional or national level.
  • Service delivery to a client will require approval.
  • All offices re-open to employees only, with limited numbers using social distancing and shifts. (This will vary depending on locations and buildings).

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  • Physical distance and infection control guidelines followed including PPE.
  • Contact tracing measures established and implemented.
  • Individual client service appointments may occur in the office or offsite.
  • All offices are closed to members/clients, volunteer groups or the public.

Level 1—Prepare:

The disease is contained in New Zealand.

  • All offices re-open to employees, members, volunteer groups and the public.
  • Meeting appropriate public health requirements, and health and safety requirements.
  • No restrictions on gatherings.

For the full recovery plan go to blindlowvision.org.nz

End box.

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Support in your local area

Since starting at Blind Low Vision NZ in August 2019, it has been full speed ahead for Chief Executive John Mulka and the team. We are pleased to share that we have made great progress in embedding a new approach to providing the service you are looking for.

In the last issue of Outlook we shared information about our approach to service being person-directed, putting the people we are here to serve firmly in the director’s seat. Since then, in order to better manage increased demand for services and reduce waiting time, we have moved into a regionalised structure. The idea is that a supportive and local team structure will be better equipped to respond to the specific needs for you and your area. Although we only officially moved to this model in March 2020, promisingly, our data is already showing improvements in bringing you service faster.

We have a fantastic team supported by regional and area managers—a mix of new and old faces from the organisation. Find out more about them and our services areas on page 8.

130 years strong and looking ahead

This year marks 130 years since we first formed as Jubilee Institute for the Blind New Zealand. Over this time our purpose has remained grounded in supporting people who are blind or have low vision, but the way we go about it is always evolving. The latest change to our name—now Blind Low Vision NZ—inclusively acknowledges the many people we are here for who identify as having low vision.

The way we provide service is another striking example of how

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things have changed. Once, we only had one location—in Auckland. Now we have offices in 18 locations around New Zealand, and counting. Promisingly, our plans to further monetise our Parnell site to support service delivery are developing well. Out of this, clients will benefit from the brand new facilities developed as part of the retirement village joint venture.

Plans to open an office later this year in West Auckland fit in with the long lens we are casting over how we ensure we are best placed to serve clients in their communities.

Strategic plan 2020-2024

We would like to thank everyone who fed into the recent consultation process for developing our next long-term strategic plan. It’s important we focus our efforts around what matters most to you, our clients and family.

Early indications suggest you want us to be focused on advocating for accessibility, employment and technology. By the time you read this our strategic plan will have been finalised. You can find more on blindlowvision.org.nz

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Meanwhile, we remain committed and active in driving for systemic change with accessibility and eye health care in New Zealand.

On page 10 you can read more about our progress with Eye Health Aotearoa and the seven-point plan for action. You can also find out the latest on the Access Alliance’s campaign to introduce accessibility legislation in New Zealand. We are pleased with the progress, but we also cannot rest on our laurels to see it through to completion.

Lastly, we would like to acknowledge and thank the many people who John has met over the past six months who have helped him become acquainted with the community. Having travelled the length of the country, it has been an insightful exercise to understand how Blind Low Vision NZ can best meet the needs of our clients and work together with the consumer groups in the wider community.

Speaking of great people, a special congratulations goes to Pip McCann who received a Queen’s Service Medal in the New Year Honours list this year. Pip has dedicated many years of service to raising puppies and funds in support of our guide dogs service, first in Auckland and then in Queenstown.

We wouldn’t be where we are without the support of generous New Zealanders who give their time and money to making a difference for people who are blind or have low vision.

Nga Mihi,

John Mulka

Blind Low Vision NZ Chief Executive

Rick Hoskin

Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) Board Chair

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Introducing our regional service model

In March 2020, we officially moved to a new model for delivering service. The idea of the new regional approach is that a supportive and local team structure will be better equipped to respond to the specific needs for you and your area.

Alongside this, our Primary Service Providers (PSPs) based in all areas are your local point of contact responsible for arranging the services that can best meet your personal goals for living with blindness or low vision.

We are pleased to introduce you to our leadership team representing your local area.

Northern region

Liz Ansell: Regional Manager

“The new model builds accountability and empowers local leadership to know what is expected of them to make sound, client centric decisions.”

Dan Shepherd: Area Manager Auckland and Northland

“As a part of the blind and low vision community myself, I am continually seeking ways to make a difference.

This role allows me to be part of a team that shares that commitment and to deliver better quality service and support to clients.”

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Sefulu Calvert: Area Manager Waikato and Bay of Plenty

“I aim to be principle centered as it applies equally to everyone; myself, my team and the clients I serve. Principles will never fail you.”

Central and Southern region

Bryce Tietjens: Regional Manager

“Since joining I have found the passion around Blind Low Vision NZ—its people, volunteers and partners—to be just amazing. I have been blessed to have met many incredible people.”

Israel Coello: Area Manager Gisborne, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Wanganui

“Having formerly been an adaptive communications trainer, I have seen first-hand the tremendous impact our services have on the people we serve. I am now in a position where I can lead and support a team of highly motivated and committed professionals so that the people we help continue to achieve their goals.”

Chloe Billington: Area Manager Nelson, Wellington and Kapiti

“In previous roles I’ve had the opportunity to meet representatives from Blind Low Vision NZ and have been amazed by your breadth of services. I am humbled and excited by the opportunity to join the team.”

Carolyn Stiles: Area Manager Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill and Timaru

“It’s all about our clients. And for me, the key to that is working alongside local service delivery teams and supporting them to deliver local solutions for clients in our communities.”

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Eye health: Aotearoa develops seven-point plan

In the previous issue of the Outlook magazine we reported on indications that New Zealand is facing a growing crisis in eye health, especially with age-related eye conditions.

Blind Low Vision NZ believes every New Zealander should be able to access the eye care services they need to support the best outcomes for themselves. This means taking steps to address avoidable blindness, make the most of a person’s remaining vision, and if needed, maximise the ability to live with sight loss.

In our work as part of Eye Health Aotearoa (formerly the Eye Health Coalition), we are pleased to share that a seven-point action plan has been developed and presented to MPs to promote understanding and action towards making eye health count in 2020.

Eye Health Aotearoa recognises that the health system is facing complex challenges, and its recommendations accommodate for this environment while seeking to increase equitable access to quality eye health for New Zealanders.

“In setting out a seven-point plan for how eye health can begin to be treated with the priority it needs over the next three years, we identify three of these as especially pressing actions that we urge the government to act on immediately,” says Blind Low Vision NZ Chief Executive John Mulka.

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The immediate steps that need to happen are:

1) Put eye health questions back in the National Health Survey.

2) Action the Coalition Government’s commitment to the free annual health check including an eye health check for all SuperGold card holders this year.

3) Get the first national eye health survey underway.

Simon O’Connor MP, and Louisa Wall MP, Co-chairs of the Parliamentary Friends of Eye Health both acknowledged that it’s time to band together to ensure that all New Zealanders can access equitable quality eye health services and prevent avoidable vision loss.

The Seven-Point Action Plan

This plan has been carefully considered to be affordable and achievable, while significantly improving New Zealanders’ eye health and reducing costs elsewhere in the health system. It targets high-risk communities who are unable to access eye health services:

1. Conduct the first ever National Eye Health Survey in New Zealand, to inform future planning and funding decisions.

2. Educate the public about the importance of taking care of their eyes.

3. Provide funded examinations as a first step to increase equitable access to eye health services for SuperGold card holders and hard-to-reach populations.

4. Establish a “New Zealand Vision Bus” to deliver funded comprehensive eye examinations to key groups.

5. Provide timely access to quality treatment services to prevent or slow down vision loss.

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6. Provide early support for people diagnosed with eye conditions or vision loss.

7. Ensure rapid access to comprehensive vision rehabilitation, habilitation, and low vision services.

What is Eye Health Aotearoa?

Eye Health Aotearoa is a multi-sector collaborative of representatives from across the eye health sector. We’ve banded together to ensure that all New Zealanders can access equitable, quality eye health services and prevent avoidable vision loss.

Our plan is affordable and achievable. It will significantly improve New Zealanders’ eye health and reduce costs elsewhere in the health system. It targets high-risk communities who are unable to access eye health services.

Trustee organisations

  • Blind Low Vision NZ
  • Glaucoma New Zealand
  • Macular Degeneration New Zealand
  • The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists
  • University of Auckland School of Optometry and Vision Science

Supporting Organisations

  • Retina New Zealand Inc.
  • Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board

To find out more about Eye Health Aotearoa, email us at info@eyehealthaotearoa.org.nz

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Shopping independently with blindness or low vision

Head into a modern shopping mall these days and more likely than not you will find accessible aids such as tactile markers at the end of escalators, and lifts incorporating braille and tactile print. These elements of accessible environmental design were once the exception, and now they are part of everyday life.

This progress can be applauded, but there’s still a long way to go. Similarly, modern technology has empowered people with more options and access to information than ever before, but it’s no silver bullet.

In this article we take a look how accessible shopping is today for people who are blind or have low vision, and share some advice for how to shop with confidence. Then, we outline progress towards introducing accessibility legislation that would ultimately redefine shopping experiences in the future.

Finding shops

Often, shops are clustered together in a strip mall (outdoor shopping area you find in a suburban place) or a shopping mall.

Adaptive Communications and Technology Trainer Chantelle Griffiths, points out that at a general level, being blind means you may walk past shops regularly and not know what is there. “Incidental browsing is less accessible, but in some high traffic areas new GPS technology is challenging this norm.”

She explains that mobile phone

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apps like BlindSquare can give audio prompts about stores around you and points of interest as you are walking down the street, and these can be customisable so you can filter for information that you care about (for example, coffee shops). Similarly, some large public spaces such as train stations and airports here in New Zealand are looking at supporting emerging wayfinding technology.

In terms of getting around, Blind Low Vision NZ Access and Awareness Advisor Chris Orr explains that while any route can be learned, often strip malls are easier to negotiate because the shops are laid out in a line and smaller in size.

“You’ve got landmarks and fixed items like walls to reference, whereas shopping malls aren’t intuitive and other clues like sound may be less useful because malls can be noisy spaces.”

Chris says it is good to see the recently opened Westfield mall in Newmarket, Auckland, offering tours for people to help them learn the layout of the mall, which is another marker of progress.

“Ultimately though, if there are places you anticipate visiting regularly it is a good idea to book in some time with someone from Blind Low Vision NZ to help you become familiar with the route and make use of mobility aids.”


  • Try downloading and experimenting with apps like BlindSquare and Seeing AI.
  • Ask us for help in developing skills to independently use apps like these on your phone.
  • Ask us for help in navigating new routes.

End box.

Inside the shop

The good news for some shopping experiences now is that you don’t have to physically go to a shop to browse for the items you want and make a purchase.

“Some types of shopping, like groceries, can lend themselves really well to being done online. We often work with clients who have

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a goal to learn to order groceries online and while we can’t control when these companies might make changes to the layout or functionality of their app or website, our adaptive technology specialists teach skills broadly applicable so you can more easily adjust when they do,” explains Chantelle.

Chantelle shares that accessible design is also becoming more understood and naturally considered by web developers. The bigger companies are more likely to have greater tech support at hand, while smaller businesses with a more DIY approach might not realise that their website isn’t accessible. She says if a business also has an app it can be a good idea to try using both the website and the app and see what works better for you, because often the experience between the two can be quite different.

Of course, there will always be items that are best considered in store—for example, you might want to physically experience how an appliance works or try on clothes before making a purchase. Chantelle recommends online research ahead of visiting a store can be a helpful combination.

“It’s really important to be able to access shopping in a way that works for you as a person and to be able to use the tools, resources and support around you to get what you need. Part of this is knowing what options are available for where you live, for example you may qualify for assistance from people who will help you do your shopping.

“It’s a massive boost in confidence to do your shopping fully independently, and in some circumstances it may take longer but it’s achievable.”

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Chris says that your experience inside a shop can be different if you are blind or have low vision. For those with some useful vision, having the right magnification aids at hand might make the difference in being able to find and choose the items you are after. Generally speaking though, chaotic shop layouts that have tight aisles and merchandise all over the place are unhelpful.

Both Chantelle and Chris recommend a combination of strategies for enhancing your experience in the shop.

Chantelle says, “Sometimes I will call ahead and tell the shop I’m coming in so I can come at a time when there’s fewer people in the shop. Calling beforehand helps them get a sense of who you are, gives you an opportunity to find out if they have what you want, and being specific means you can be efficient with the time spent.

“If you’ve never been to the shop before, it’s also useful to ask for someone to look out for you around the time you’re coming. For those who may not be experienced in serving people who are blind, it also gives you an opportunity to guide them on what is most helpful to you.”


  • Try using both the website and app for a business and see what provides a better experience for you.
  • Seek advice from Blind Low Vision NZ on what the best magnification aids are for you.
  • Plan and research. Don’t be afraid to make contact with the shop ahead of your visit and be specific about your preferences.
  • Find out what other services may be available to support your shopping needs. Ask your Blind Low Vision NZ primary service provider for further information and advice.

End box.

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The accessible future

While Chantelle and Chris recommend proactivity as a good approach to help your shopping endeavours, they also recognise that in a perfect world this shouldn’t and wouldn’t be required.

“The fact is we still live in a world that has some way to go to embracing accessibility and removing barriers for people who are blind or have low vision. We are working on changing this from the top as part of the Access Alliance seeking the introduction of accessibility legislation into the future,” says Chris.

He says in this future, shops would be designed so that all members of the community would be able to shop independently. That would include staff awareness and training, as well as environmental design—which is about straight lines and good colour contrast for people with sight loss. He also imagines continued growth in the capability of technology to enhance shopping experiences.

Promisingly, the Access Alliance is continuing to advance the government’s commitment to designing an approach to achieve a fully accessible New Zealand. This commitment was made in 2018, after sustained pressure from the Access Alliance and our community of accessibility advocates.

You can lend your voice to the campaign by getting in touch with your local MP candidate and letting them know what accessibility means to you.

To stay up to date and for more information on getting involved, visit
or phone 0800 24 33 33

Photograph caption: Aftershock headsets—enable you to listen to your phone speech while still hearing the sound around you.

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Celebrating 130 Years

On 9 July 2020, Blind Low Vision NZ will celebrate its 130th birthday. We talk to Jackson Paraha, Nola Burgess and Shaun Johnson about their experience with our community, and how life has changed living with blindness and low vision over the years.


Did you know?

Our name evolves with the times.

We have had seven name changes since we were founded in 1890.

1890-1932: Jubilee Institute for the Blind of New Zealand

1933-1956: New Zealand Institute for the Blind

1956-1971: New Zealand Foundation for the Blind

1972-2002: Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind

2003-2013: Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind

2013-2019: Blind Foundation (legal name remains Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind)

2019-present: Blind Low Vision NZ (legal name remains Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind)

End box.

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Jackson Paraha, 57—Blind Low Vision NZ Client.

With the rollout of our new brand Blind Low Vision NZ, Jackson Paraha, supported us in a photography project. His motivations were to raise awareness of our services for Māori and anyone who needs our support.

Tell us about how you first became engaged with Blind Low Vision NZ

It was at primary school in Kaitaia that my eye condition was picked up. I wasn’t aware that I had a problem, I thought that I could see properly, I assumed I was like everyone else—but I was struggling through school. I moved from Kaitaia to Auckland to go to the Homai School for the Blind (now known as BLENNZ) which was a big change for a young Māori boy.

Homai was awesome. I met so many new people and made so many mates from different tribal areas. There was a really strong focus on whanau. When I went from Homai to Manurewa High School I was the first low vision member of the Kapa Haka group. I really needed that support as a young Māori—it strengthened me and gave me the desire to learn more about who I was and where I was from—it was the start of my education and how I became who I am today.

Photograph caption: Jackson Paraha with his grandchildren.

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What is it like living with blindness now compared to when you were younger?

Well Blind Low Vision NZ is still supporting me today in my current role as a kaiako in Kohanga Reo (teaching Māori language and values to preschool children). They are helping me with training and getting the right software to continue to do a great job in my role.

What are your hopes for the future for young blind people in today’s society?

I recently met a young Māori boy—about 18, who reminded me very much of myself when I was his age. He is really bright but doesn’t know where to get advice or support in terms of employment or what to do next—there seems to be a gap from transitioning from school to getting a job. I have two daughters of my own who have low vision and wish there was more support out there to help young people to access the services they need and to show them the options that are available to them.

Recently you took part in our brand photography project—the purpose of which was to let people know that we are here for everyone in New Zealand. Why did you agree to be involved and why is it important to you?

It was really important that other young Māori or anyone who needs support to make a better life for themselves know where to go. I have to be honest for a long time I wanted to be somebody I wasn’t, someone with full sight. I have accepted my blindness now but it’s taken a while. For me from a Māori perspective I may not have my vision but I have my reo [language].

So now, nothing is more important to me than having some input in a child’s growth in Te Reo. I want to give back to my community and especially the young ones. So I am happy to support Blind Low Vision NZ get the message out to not only Māori but everyone who needs the services.

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Nola Burgess, 85—Blind Low Vision NZ client and volunteer for Gisborne Community Committee

Awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in 2018 for services to the blind and low vision community, Nola’s journey with Blind Low Vision NZ began when she became a client at aged 21. She went on to become the Chairperson of the Gisborne Advisory Committee (now known as Community Committee) and paved the way for a local Gisborne office and community centre of Blind Low Vision NZ to open in 1991.

Tell us about your early years with Blind Low Vision NZ.

I’ve been a member since 1956. A social worker (now known as a service provider at Blind Low Vision NZ) used to visit twice a year. I remember they gave us a free walking stick (it wasn’t called a white cane back then), a free radio licence and a free braille watch.

The talking book machine was a great big gramophone and played huge records—you could only listen to one book at a time because you needed several records per book. When it changed to cassettes, it was an absolute lifesaver.

I got my first guide dog in 1982 and I have had four—it has meant that I have been able to hold down a job and get on with things. I have been on the Community Committee (formerly the Advisory Committee) for 39 years, at one stage I was the Chairwoman. We wanted a space where we could socialise and meet up so I suggested we ask for a Gisborne centre. People thought it would never happen, but in 1991 we celebrated the opening. I remember a member saying “now I feel like I belong” and that’s what it’s all about.

Photograph caption: Nola Burgess and Governor General Patsy Reddy.

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You’ve done a lot to support the community over the years—what drives you to give back?

I believe that when you lose your sight, you don’t worry about what you can’t do, you get on with what you can. People say that I am an inspiration, but that’s not my aim, I just get on with life and encourage others to do the same.

Have you experienced a change in attitude over the years towards people who are blind or have low vision?

Certainly—there is a lot more things available for people, a lot more technology and equipment so that you can gain employment, study, travel or do whatever you choose to do. Once upon a time blind people made baskets and that was it. I envy, but am happy for, the young people growing up today because they have many opportunities that I never had.

What are your hopes for the future?
I would like to see people who are blind or have low vision carry on a normal life, as normal as they can. I want people to understand that blindness affects people from all walks of life—you can’t put us in a box. We’re just normal people only our vision is impaired. We have feelings just as everyone else—we laugh and cry just like everyone else.

Shaun Johnson, 75—Resident at the New Zealand Institute for the Blind in Parnell, now known as Blind Low Vision NZ, 1950-1961

It is likely you can find Shaun Johnson, of Wellington, at the James Cook Hotel. He has held a residency there for an incredible 39 years playing the piano. He first learnt to play at the New Zealand Institute for the Blind where he lived for 11 years.

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Tell us a bit about living at the New Zealand Institute for the Blind in the 1950s

I was a boarder at Nathan House and went to school at the Institute. I started in 1950 when I was six years old. There were about 24 boys there and the boys and girls were separated. We slept there, we ate there and we went to school there. As well as normal classes, there were also special classes where we learnt a hobby.

What were the advantages of living there and the disadvantages?

I didn’t see much of my parents in my first year until they moved up to Auckland from Dunedin, but it was where I learnt piano.

Music classes were compulsory and if you were good at it then you carried on. I was also a member of the brass band. Two people who got me up to scratch to study music at university were teachers May Bray and Lilian Martin.

Have you experienced a change in attitude to people who are blind or have low vision over the years?

I think now there is more of an acceptance in society and there is a lot more that a person who is blind or has low vision can do.

What are your hopes for the future for people who are blind or have low vision?

If they try and do something there is every chance that they will succeed—there is technology out there that means there are so many possibilities now.

Photograph caption: Shaun Johnson at his piano.

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Everyday living

Library: Accessible religious content to practice your faith

Blind Low Vision NZ provides Kiwis who are blind or have low vision with the practical and emotional support to do the things they need and want to do, and this includes giving people access to the tools to practice their faiths independently.

With this in mind, it follows that religious content is a popular part of our accessible library service.

“We think it is important to provide different religious material in an accessible way, which provides people with independence to receive content about their faiths,” says Blind Low Vision NZ Library Manager Geraldine Lewis. “Our aim is to provide a collection that is current, relevant and responsive to the needs of our clients. We encourage and track all client requests, and use these requests as the basis of title selection.”

Library member Naushad Ali, of Auckland, appreciates the Islamic content provided in audio format. We recently recorded two titles, Provision of the Seekers and When the Moon Split in both Arabic and English, narrated by Qays Buksh.

“It’s really good because as a Muslim visually impaired person, we don’t [normally] have material like that in audio format. You can listen to it in your own time and concentrate on what it’s saying.”

He says listening to the recorded material is a different experience than having someone read to you, because you can read it at your own pace and listen to sections over again to absorb it to its full extent.

“After the Christchurch mosque shooting last year it is important, now more than ever, for people to have access to their faiths which at the heart of it comes down to

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compassion and kindness. The shooter thought he was going to tear people apart but it was actually the opposite, it brought people closer together.”

In the past two years, the library team has also added 650 Seventh Day Adventist titles and 2,100 Christian Blind Mission titles that were gifted to our collection.

Looking for support to add the Samoan and Tongan bible to our collection:

The team is continuing to diversify the library’s religious content and is currently looking for help to narrate the Samoan and Tongan bibles.

“This is a popular request. We have searched for this audio material and have added what we can find to our collection; however, we cannot get hold of the complete works. Our producer Simon Lynch did research into this and calculated that it would take several years of his time to produce each version,” says Geraldine.

“An idea we have is to ask whether people with some knowledge in these areas and can speak Samoan or Tongan would like to record audio of religious text and provide it to us for our collection. If you or anyone you know may be interested in contributing, we would love to work with you so please get in touch.”

To access the library collection or express interest in narrating, please contact our library on 0800 24 33 33 or email

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Sharing tips on personal grooming with vision loss

Putting on make-up and shaving can be a challenge when you have low or no vision.

Our Adaptive Daily Living Instructors help people to learn tricks for adapting to sight loss. Read on for some top tips from the experts, as well as tips that you have shared with us on our Facebook page.


We say:

1. Use a headband when applying makeup to pull your hair away from your face. This is especially helpful when applying foundation and eye makeup.

2. You can also use a magnifying mirror with an adjustable arm to enlarge the image of your face and head.

3. Keep a wet washcloth, wet wipes, or paper towels nearby to remove makeup from your fingertips. Clean your hands and fingertips after each step in the application process to prevent makeup residue from rubbing off on your face, clothing, and upholstery.

You say:

1. “Use a short eye pencil and mascara with a short wand and use your fingers to apply eyeshadow.”—Dena Harnett.

2. “Get yourself a magnifying ring light mirror or get a compact mirror you can hold in your hand close to your face while using the other hand to apply makeup.”—Kelly Brown.

3. “After putting foundation on with your hands/brush, use a beauty blender type sponge to make sure it’s all rubbed in.”—Wainui Witika-Park.

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We say:

1. You can determine the areas that require shaving (such as your face, legs, or underarms) or the location of a nick or scratch by using your sense of touch.

2. Wash the area to be shaved with soap and water, and pat dry. This will soften your hair, which makes it easier to shave cleanly and safely.

3. Use shaving cream or lotion if you use a safety razor. It will protect your skin and help you better locate the areas you’ve already shaved.

You say:

1. “I go to the barber shop now, got exhausting trying to see one side of my head with tunnel vision.”—Terry Richards.

2. “I’m partially blind, use razor blades and I’ve never once used a mirror to shave. I shave in the shower before dawn and often don’t have the bathroom lights on. I haven’t nicked myself in years and I can full-face and neck shave in under three minutes now. Shaving is all about feel—honestly, that’s it.

The best advice I can give from my own experience is to start slow, use plenty of gel or shave foam and just feel the grip of the blades and smoothness of the finish and you’ll be shaving in the dark in no time!”—Rob McGoram.

In reply to Rob:

3. “Legend mate. I too am partially blind, hardly ever have I needed to rely on mirrors to shave, and I agree “it’s all about the feel”. Practice makes perfect, confidence strengthens independence.”—Murakareke Roretana.

Photograph caption: Paveen Shakar shaving with a razor.

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Items to help with personal grooming available in our shop

We stock a wide range of products for people who are blind or have low vison. Here are a few you might be interested in:

10-times Compact Magnifying Mirror

This compact mirror is perfect for in your handbag or around the home and has two optical quality glass mirrors which give a clear, undistorted image and do not scratch.

Client price: $29 Full price: $34

Round rimless hand held 2-times magnifier with LED light

This hand held 2-times magnifier with light, has a round, rimless 110mm lens for non-distracted viewing. It is powered by two super bright LED lights that can last up to 5000 hours. Batteries are included.

Client price: $32 Full price: $36

To learn more about these products and to browse more items, visit
or call 0800 24 33 33 and speak to our equipment specialists.

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Life without limits around the country

Please note at the time of writing, community events are on hold due to the Covid-19 public health crisis. Check our website for the latest updates. We hope to be back on board as soon as possible, and in the meantime, here are some highlights from earlier:

South Island Tramp, Central Otago, 8-9 November, 2019

Ten clients returned from a South Island tramp happy, windblown and more knowledgeable about the great New Zealand gold rush. They had a wonderful time and finished their walk by sampling of local wine at a member’s vineyard.

Photograph caption: Clients, volunteers and staff in front of an historic run in Welshtown.

Taupo Kids Camp, 12-17 January

Zip lining, martial arts, archery, morning yoga and making rocky road were just some of the activities at the kids camp at MiCamp near Taupo.

The theme for the camp this year was “Superheroes” so the grand finale was a heroic costume parade, followed by a talent quest.

“During their time at camp the kids were presented with many opportunities to step outside

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their comfort zones, build on their independent living skills, and gain confidence in their social and physical abilities. The icing on the cake was fun and friendship experienced by all who attended,” says Micky Gunn, Blind Low Vision NZ Recreation and Community Advisor.

Photograph caption: Taupo Kids Camp. 12-17 January 2020

Red Puppy Appeal, 13-14 March

More than 1800 volunteers hit the streets to raise money and awareness for Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs with our Red Puppy Appeal street collection. Thank you to everyone who supported the appeal! $250,000 was raised to breed and train guide dogs.

Find something that suits you.

Would you like to get involved with a recreation or a community event? Get in touch on 0800 24 33 33 or go to our website blindlowvision.org.nz and check out the events section to find something that suits you in your local area.

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Message from parents of Vision Impaired NZ (PVINZ)

Tēnā koutou katoa,

I haere mai ōku tūpuna i Kōtirana

No Kirikiriroa tāku papa kainga

Kie Waikato-Tainui ahau e noho ana

Ko Parents of Vision Impaired tāku mahi

Ko Lily te pōtiki ana tāku kotiro te kanohi atarua

Ko Rebekah Graham tāku ingoa.

Kia ora, my name is Rebekah and I am the new Executive Officer for Parents of Vision Impaired NZ (PVINZ). My journey into PVINZ began seven years ago, with the birth of our fourth child, Lily. Our initial ophthalmologist appointment quickly provided a diagnosis, followed by a prognosis, and then a cheery “see you in two years”. I was left with little idea of what to expect, no clue as to what services existed, or where to go to find out! After posting on Facebook, a friend of a friend put us in touch with a mutual friend who then put us in touch with PVINZ—and the rest, as they say, is history.

In coming to know parents through PVINZ I have noted that while the respective issues we face may change (depending on the ages and stages of our children), the need for support and advocacy does not.

Many of us are learning on our feet about our child’s needs and the support they need. Children born with congenital vision conditions often have additional challenges and disabilities. This means that parents must manage multiple health professionals and various appointment times, work with schools to develop educational and safety plans, and deal with the vagaries of MSD, Work and Income, and service providers.

Educators, health professionals, and even service providers can

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be unaware of the specific needs of blind, low-vision and vision-impaired children. This leaves parents in the unenviable position of having to educate those around them—which is particularly challenging in environments where parental concerns are minimised, disparaged, and/or dismissed.

PVINZ aims to walk alongside parents as they navigate all these challenges. Having other parents who “get it” provides space to debrief and find encouragement and reassurance. A listening ear alongside advocacy and support services means that parents feel less isolated.

It also means that we can continue reducing societal barriers to inclusion while ensuring blind, low vision and vision-impaired children get the support they need to enjoy and participate in society as equals at every stage of their life.

Ngā mihi

Rebekah Graham

Photograph caption: Rebekah’s daughter Lily on a horse.

For more information visit: www.pvi.org.nz

We are also on Twitter: @PVI_NZ

Or you can contact me (Rebekah) via

Phone: 0226215740 or

Email: rgraham@pvi.org.nz

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Blind & Low Vision NZ is proud to support and partner with organisations directly representing the interests of Kiwis who are blind or have low vision.

Contact details

Albinism NZ

(06) 367 5900



Blind Citizens NZ

Mail: PO Box 7144, Newtown, Wellington 6242

0800 222 694 or 04 389 0033




Blind Sport New Zealand

(09) 930 1579



Deafblind Association of NZ Charitable Trust

0800 450 650



Kāpo Māori Aotearoa

0800 770 990



New Zealand Vision Impaired Empowering Women (NZ VIEW)

National President: Janet Palmer 04 476 7329


Parents of Vision Impaired New Zealand (PVINZ) Inc.

Executive Officer: Dr Rebekah Graham 022 621 5740



Retina New Zealand

0800 569 849



Search Retina New Zealand or Retina Youth to find them on social media.

Support and Education for our Youth, their Families and their Friends.

021 0235 4395


These details are correct at the time of printing. Please check the Blind & Low Vision NZ website for updated details and more information at blindlowvision.org.nz

Back page

The gift of a life without limits

Receive an information pack today about how a gift in your will can make a profound and lasting difference.

Please contact Supporter Care on 0800 366 283 or

Blind Low Vision NZ

Formerly Blind Foundation

End of Outlook Autumn 2020