Outlook: Spring 2020

Blind Low Vision NZ, formerly Blind Foundation

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: Karen in the kitchen with her Alexa

Let’s talk books: A short history of audio books from gramophones to Alexa

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 get in touch at info@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: New West Auckland Office, Covid-19 update, Strategic Plan. Page 2

Feature: Talking books are here to stay, but the way we are delivering them is changing. A short history from gramophones to Alexa. Page 5

Genevieve—the first guide dog team in New Zealand to also use a wheelchair. Donnella—deafblind and never looked back after receiving hearing aids. Holly—the face of Blind Week 2020. Meet Marlie, the top Bikkie Day fundraiser. Page 12

Everyday living: Sharing cooking tips with vision loss. How to put on a mask from a blind or low vision perspective. Page 20

Community: Sharing cooking tips with vision loss. How to put on a mask from a blind or low vision perspective. Page 24

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The Inside Word

Hello to All

Welcome to the 2020 Spring 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.

Here’s a quick update from John Mulka, Blind Low Vision NZ Chief Executive and Rick Hoskin, Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) Board Chair.

We have a new office—197 Universal Drive, Henderson, West Auckland

Our West Auckland Blind Low Vision NZ office is now open. With about 27% of our Auckland based members living in West Auckland we wanted to make it easier for you to connect with us and receive the personalised vision rehabilitation services you need to live the life you choose.

Henderson will be home to our Library team and some of our Auckland based Service Delivery staff. Meeting rooms are available for you to book and hold events (adhering to Covid-19 restrictions) and parking and public transport options are available.

We now have 19 office locations around New Zealand to support you.

If you are in the area, please pop in and say hi or feel free to contact us:

Blind Low Vision NZ—West Auckland

197 Universal Drive

Henderson, West Auckland


09 283 7080.

Covid-19 update

It’s been a tough year. This may be a huge understatement but well done to us for making it through this far. I am incredibly proud of how Blind Low Vision NZ has adapted through the alert levels, and it is an honour to be classed as an essential

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service so that we can continue to empower Kiwis who are blind, deafblind or have low vision.

Since the Covid-19 Pandemic began, we’ve seen a nearly 20% increase in demand for our children’s services, adaptive technology services, counselling services and we have heard from a few of you about how much you appreciate services like our library operating at a time like this. It is a privilege to serve you—we are here to help.

Get in touch with us on 0800 24 33 33 or info@blindlowvision.org.nz if you would like some extra support. To stay up-to-date with the latest Covid-19 news visit our website: blindlowvision.org.nz

Our Vision, Your Future—Nā matou te moemoea, nā koutou te tau tītoki. Strategic Plan 2020-2024

Hopefully you have had a chance to read Our Vision, Your Future—

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our new Strategic Plan. We look forward to delivering on our key priorities of Independence, Educate and Equip, Social Inclusion and For Purpose Organisation in a way that is authentic to our four values of Person Centred, Collaborative, Adaptable, and Accountable.

We have some exciting initiatives this year. We are one massive step closer to accessibility legislation being passed in New Zealand, receiving unanimous support from political parties.

We also have 12 initiatives in our yearly business plan to improve our service to you and play our part in making New Zealand a more inclusive place to be.

If you haven’t read Our Vision, Your Future in full—we encourage you to do so on our website.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Outlook Magazine—it’s packed full of interesting stories and tips for you.

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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Let’s talk books

A short history of audio books from gramophones to Alexa

Story telling has been around since the dawn of time. And while the means of telling them may have changed—even today nothing beats losing yourself in a good book.

So it’s not surprising that one of Blind Low Vision NZ’s most popular services is our Library Service’s talking books. Now delivering over 35,000 books and magazines to over 4,500 library members, it’s a much-loved and well-used service. And the only thing that has really changed over the years is how our library users receive them. We made the announcement to our members in September about our plans to retire CDs by 30 June 2021 but we are always looking ahead for new ways to deliver talking books. And that’s something that Blind Low Vision NZ Library and Studios Manager, Geraldine Lewis, is really passionate about.

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A timeline of talking books


The first talking books were distributed on records. These were special slow-running 12-inch gramophone records, each side reading for twenty-five minutes.


The switch from records to the Clark and Smith big Mark 1 18-track cartridges.


Launch of the Library’s new tape talking book scheme.


The New National Talking Book Library and the sound recording studio in Parnell, Auckland were opened by the Governor-General Brigadier Sir Bernard Fergusson.


Converted to Mark 4 tape-ette cartridges.


The Library moves to the Library of Congress’s four-track talking book format—a two million NZD investment.


RNZFB took on magazine production.


Joined the DAISY Consortium to help develop the DAISY Standard.

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The move from tapes to CDs—Over 3,200 members supplied with new digital players by the Blind Low Vision NZ through charitable funding.


Blind Low Vision NZ launches BookLink—a web-based digital download platform for its audio books. BookLink app added in 2015.


Launched DAISY Direct.


Blind Low Vision NZ launch the library Alexa Skill.

2020—this is the last platform added

Introduced EasyReader app to our members. Available on iOS and android, it’s free to download.

A history of looking ahead

Some people are surprised to know that our organisation has had talking books since 1937. Back then, talking books came in the form of gramophone records, and there were 61 talking book machines in use throughout NZ.

It was quite forward-thinking for the time, and most of the titles had to come from overseas, particularly from the RNIB in the UK and American Foundation for the Blind in the US. But that also included titles from NZ authors such as Ngaio Marsh and Sir Archibald McKindoe.

Flower Power was all the go in 1961, when the gramophone records were switched for trendy cassette tapes—and in 1962 the new tape talking book scheme launched with over 470 new talking book machines.

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But it was only in 1966 that we started narrating our own material when the National Tape Talking Book Library and sound recording Studios opened. “After the transition to tapes there weren’t many advancements in the technology for many years, but usage of our services was growing … driven mainly by word of mouth with more people becoming interested in audio books,” says Geraldine.

The Compact Disc conundrum

One of the trickiest changes to Talking Books came in 2011 when tapes were switched over to a new technology—the Compact Disc, or CD. “The reason was we just couldn’t get blank cassettes anymore and it was becoming hard to get equipment for our tape duplicators,” says Geraldine.

Although the transition wasn’t easy for a lot of listeners, there were some immediate benefits. “For example, a book might take 12 cassettes which we would send out in batches—so you can imagine the frustration getting the end of your book before you had read the first half!” Says Geraldine. “The brilliant thing about the CD was it meant you could fit around six books onto the disk—so it was ultimately far more practical and usable for our members.”

New tech for a new century

With the rise of digital and MP3 files in the first years of the 21st

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century, the time was right to launch BookLink in 2014—a web based digital download platform, which soon also became an app.

DAISY Direct followed in 2018, and the benefit of this was that people didn’t need to have WiFi to listen with.

After that came the EasyReader app in 2020. Already used by many different blindness agencies around the world, it has excellent accessibility options for people who have low vision or are blind.

Meet Alexa—your talking book friend

One of the most exciting technological advancements for talking books is the introduction of Alexa services for our members. As technology changes and older tech becomes obsolete, it’s a truly exciting development.

Developed by Blind Low Vision NZ in 2018 the Alexa Skill was made available to our library members in 2019. Geraldine is particularly proud of this milestone. “We’re the first blindness organisation in the world to adopt the voice technology into our digital strategy, and create this new type of skill for members.

We really were pioneers in developing this, and the uptake has been hugely gratifying, with over 700 active users each month.”

“I think Alexa is the future for talking books as people just want to independently make their own decisions about the books and content they choose. And as books are downloaded instantly, they don’t have to wait for days for them to arrive by mail.”

There are also many other benefits to a smart-speaker such as checking public transport timetables, the weather, Covid-19 updates and whatever else you can think of asking (fun tip: Ask Alexa “How was your day?”)

As Geraldine says, “Being voice activated, for many people it’s a lot easier than having to push buttons. The average age of our membership is 78 and we have people in their 90s using Alexa, it’s just so easy to use.”

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Why not ask for your Alexa today?

Earlier this year, Blind Low Vision NZ received funding from the Ministry of Social Development for 3500 Alexa Smart-speakers to distribute to our members. This coincided with the launch of our Strategic Plan where one of our key priorities is independence and the feedback from our members that have one is that Alexa has given them independence when it comes to accessing information.

If you would like to get an Alexa contact us on info@blindlowvision.org.nz or call us on 0800 24 33 33.


Ivan loves his Alexa

Ivan Levy—90, Wellington

To find out first-hand how our members are benefiting from Alexa, we spoke to Ivan Levy from Wellington. Just 90-years young, Ivan has been a library member for several years and has enjoyed listening to books on his DAISY player before getting an Alexa.

“I’ve always been a big reader, mainly novels and historical stuff. It’s such a handicap not being able to see in detail so the ability to listen to books, control the listening and rest at the same time was great.”

Ivan had heard about Alexa when it was first released, and also knew a person who had used it. He thought it sounded like a great idea.

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“So I applied for one. When it arrived, it was really easy to set up, although I had to make the arrangements for an internet connection but that was done by one of our grandchildren!” Ivan laughs. “But we got that sorted out and away we went. It was painless.”

According to Ivan, there are lots of benefits with Alexa. “It’s the simplicity of operation, simply using the spoken word without having to insert discs, plus you don’t have to send anything back like you did with CDs. Also, just the independence of being able to randomly select an author to listen to just by using my voice. Now I simply ask Alexa by saying an author’s name that I have heard of, or that I might like, and it tells you what’s available. I’ve got into the habit now of plugging in to one author and reading through their whole catalogue—some of them go up to 20 and 30 books and you can stop listening to the ones that aren’t up to scratch and try the next one.”

“At the moment I’m reading John Grisham and he has about 32 books in the library and I’m up to number 12 now. I have exhausted Ian Fleming and James Bond. Plus, I also get to use it as a clock and radio on my bedside table.”

So, what would Ivan say to anyone who wants to try Alexa but is a bit apprehensive?

“Just go for it. It’s convenient, it widens your choices, and gives you a whole lot more independence!”

We couldn’t agree more.

End box.

Pages 12-13

A new era for Outlook—the end of print

This will be the last edition of Outlook that will be printed and posted to your letterbox. With the roll out of the Alexa smart speaker, we see an opportunity to produce it inclusively in an audio led format. You will still be able to access Outlook in a variety of formats—word document, e-text, online, and braille on request—so you can choose a format which works best for you and of course we want to be inclusive of our Deafblind members.

We’re excited to embark on a new era and produce the Autumn edition of Outlook in audio using a podcast format—you’ll be able to hear the stories come to life and told through your voices!


If you have an interesting story to tell about your vision loss journey and want to be part of the very first Outlook podcast, get in touch at communications@blindlowvision.org.nz

End box.

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First guide dog and wheelchair team in New Zealand

Genevieve McLachlan might even be the first person in world to use both a guide dog and a wheelchair.

She has Cerebral Palsy as well as low vision and uses a wheelchair for mobility.

“My eye condition, Optic Atrophy, means I have no distance or depth perception so suddenly having to use a wheelchair made things a whole lot different.

“I was now seeing things from the height of a child, with the brain of an adult so I was having difficulty processing everything.”

She got her first guide dog Dell, a German Shepherd in 1998. This was a first for Blind Low Vision NZ Guide Dogs.

“None of us knew if this would work, but we were all willing to give it a go. The first challenge was to design a harness I could use as I obviously couldn’t hold a handle, needing to use my hands to propel my manual wheelchair.”

Her Guide Dog Mobility Instructor Sarah Jewitt came up with a design with a body piece and a soft strap that connected to the centre of Dell’s back, as it would be for someone walking.

That was just the first in a series of challenges that Genevieve and Dell had to overcome in their four years together. Dell had to slow her walking speed down, adapt to a motorised wheelchair when Genevieve developed RSI and travel in cars and on planes while Genevieve traveled for work.

After Dell, Genevieve got Hobbit, an 18-month old golden retriever in 2003.

“Hobbit was totally different, and very stubborn, if he didn’t want to do something, he wouldn’t but he

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loved looking after me so took his job very seriously and we had lots of fun together.”

Hobbit retired in 2012 and Genevieve got her current guide dog Pedro, who is a lab/retriever cross.

Technology and knowledge about using both guide dogs and wheelchairs had advanced and her current Guide Dog Mobility Instructor Kim Norton organised an offset harness so that Pedro is well away from Genevieve’s wheels.

“Pedro and I instantly bonded. He’s such a fun cheeky dog, as Hobbit was, who loves to please. We continue to have lots of adventures together and nothing fazes Pedro, whatever I want to do, he’ll do it.

“Pedro also learnt an exceptional skill which goes above and beyond what’s expected of guide dogs—he learnt the rules of social distancing during lockdowns.

“Pedro very quickly worked out that for some strange reason, we needed to move away from people.

“Pedro’s had to adjust to the constant changes of COVID levels which he’s done very well, sometimes better than I have. It’s lovely to have him by my side and know he’ll help me navigate safely around our ever changing environment.”


If you think a guide dog is the right choice for you, contact us on 0800 24 33 33 or

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Donnella Woodiwiss, 79,

Deafblind client, Blind Low Vision NZ—Living in Tauranga

Donnella one of our deafblind clients is an accomplished musician playing the piano accordion and ukulele in local community clubs including the RSA.

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

I found out quite by chance. I was doing some sewing and I couldn’t see what I was doing. Maurice, my partner said I should go and get some glasses. I went down to OPSM and they said they couldn’t help me because there was something wrong with my eyes. I went to the eye specialist and they treated me with injections for about 4 years and then referred me to the Blind Low Vision NZ and I joined about 5 or 6 years ago.

Tell us about your first encounter with Blind Low Vision NZ.

One of the first meetings I went to I was sitting down the end of the table but I couldn’t hear anything that was being said. I told the person running the meeting and within the next few days they took me to get some hearing aids and I have never looked back. They sorted everything including all the paperwork with the Health Department. I was so grateful I didn’t know I was going deaf and the hearing aids made the world of difference to me. I’ve never looked back.

What services do you use and which have made the most impact to your life?

Monique and the team in Tauranga are so helpful and they really look after you. I have had help learning how to use my white cane as well as putting bump-on stickers on the stove and microwave so I can feel

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how to use them. I get help with technology too, if I have a problem with my iPad or computer I just make a call and get help. I’m also learning to use my Alexa too which is marvelous.

The recreational and social activities have had the biggest impact on my life. I have been on so many trips like coffee groups and indoor bowls. It doesn’t cost a lot of money but it’s so great just getting out and doing things that’s what I really enjoy. There is always something going on. I’ve even been on a tandem bike ride—it was just wonderful!

Blind Low Vision NZ latest Strategic Plan includes deafblind in our mission statement—how does that make you feel?

I think it’s marvelous—the best thing you’ve ever done—OK there might not be so many of us but we can still benefit from the services. Before I acknowledged I was going deaf as well as blind I had no idea that there was support out there. Since joining Blind Low Vision NZ I have gained confidence in myself that I never had before. I have never looked back I have improved in myself in every way.

What advice would you give to someone who is deafblind?

If you have a problem just go to Blind Low Vision NZ and they will look after you like they have looked after me. I would tell them what Blind Low Vision NZ has done for me then it’s up to them. I found that being blind has made me a better person over the years I have been able to do so much more. There’s nothing I can’t do I have had so much support.


Did you know that Blind Low Vision NZ offer deafblind services? Contact us on 0800 24 33 33 or email
to find out more.

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Learn more about Holly Horrocks

Thank you to everyone who was involved in our Blind Week street appeal this year on 16-17 October.

Holly Horrocks, 30, from Mangakino, did a fabulous job being a face of Blind Week this year.

Blind Low Vision NZ has been there for Holly since she was 10 years old and we have supported Holly through different stages of her life.

Support started with orientation and mobility training with a white cane, daily living assistance, and technology services.

Throughout attending university, Holly continued to use our services such as getting a guide dog, help with finding work, and increased assistance with technology.

Holly has recently moved to Mangakino after getting married in January so reached out again to Blind Low Vision NZ in order to be able to move confidently around her new town, equipment for her house to make it easy to use, and assistance with finding a job.

It’s been a pleasure to be there for Holly at different stages of her life. Blind Low Vision NZ is always there if you need further assistance. We are only a phone call or email away.

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Meet Marlie who baked a difference this Bikkie Day

Marlie Baker raised more than $2300 this Bikkie Day. The enterprising 8 year old was Blind Low Vision NZ’s top fundraiser and has low vision herself with the eye condition Nystagmus.

Marlie is a fan of guide dogs and has done awareness presentations to her class at school as well as sharing her experience on living with vision loss. She was only 4 years old when she did her first Bikkie Day and this was her 5th year.

Marlie’s mum Jo says they did it for the blind and low vision community.

“I think it is important to give back as it helps an incredibly valuable service continue. I can only imagine how much more support we would need from Blind Low Vision NZ if Marlie’s vision was lower, or she was blind.”

She says her first contact with Blind Low Vision NZ was with a social worker and was a turning point for her.

“He had the expertise to understand what our worries were as parents, and also the experience to tell us that everything was going to be “ok” and that Marlie would live a life full of opportunities.”

Marlie has also had adaptive daily living support and been involved with recreation opportunities through Blind Low Vision NZ.

Well done to Marlie for baking a difference and giving back to her community—more than $75,000 was raised for Bikkie Day this year.

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Everyday Living

Sharing cooking tips with vision loss

Many might think that taste might be the dominant sense when cooking with vision loss, but it is a combo of senses that make life a little easier in the kitchen.

Our Adaptive Daily Living Instructors help people 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. Bump ons (raised sticky dots) can help you identify crucial buttons on appliances such as microwaves and ovens.

2. Use colour contrast to help you cook—for example cook white rice in a black saucepan.

3. Add a metal spoon to water that you want to boil—when the water is boiling it is going to rattle noisily at the bottom.

4. Measuring oils is difficult when keeping them in their original bottles, especially if you don’t need to use a large amount. Keep the oil in a jar with the wide opening—then you can easily measure required amount using table or teaspoons.

5. Use a braille labeller to identify items in your kitchen.

You say:

1. Use talking scales and have patience—Jan Nesbit, Cambridge.

2. Use an ice cream scoop to put muffin mixture into muffin trays—Petronella Spicer, Christchurch.

3. I used a marker pen on the oven on my most commonly used cooking temperature 180 degrees. Easy to see and adjust the dial if need be—Erin Kerekere, Dunedin.

4. I am ok with use of the microwave. But preparing food has been a problem. I bought a multi grater and dicer from KMart to help with chopping and dicing food for cooking—Paul Kamau, Porirua.

5. Bump-ons can be cleaned with antibacterial cleaner and stay on (good to know in present situations)—Fritha Millington, Tauranga.

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Items to help with cooking are available in our shop. We stock a wide range of products for people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision. Here are a few you might be interested in:

KiddiKutter Knife—cuts food, not fingers!

These colourful knives are great for creative kids in the kitchen, coming in blue, green, orange, pink and purple—pick your favourite colour and off you go!

Price: $25 each

Vox-2 Talking Kitchen Scale

With both a talking function and a screen, this compact kitchen scale is great for the whole house. Big buttoned yet compact, pick grams or ounces/ pounds whichever suits you best!

Full price: $105. Client price: $79

Oven Glove

Elbow length oven glove provides more coverage than your standard oven mitt. The mitt is black, quilted and most importantly, not readily susceptible to fire.

Price: $15 per glove


To learn more about these products speak to one of our equipment specialists by calling 0800 24 33 33.

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Mask tips for people who are blind or have low vision

We’ve gathered some tips on mask use from a blind and low vision perspective:

1. Tactile indicators can help you identify the top of your mask to ensure you’re wearing it correctly. If attaching a tactile indicator to your mask, be careful not to puncture or tear the mask.

2. If making a cloth mask, consider using contrasting colours or suitable textured fabrics to help you identify your mask, as well as being able to identify parts of your mask, such as ear loops.

3. Where possible, always put your mask on by yourself. If this is not possible, ensure anybody who is helping you is known to you, is wearing their own mask and has thoroughly washed or sanitised their hands before touching you or your mask.

4. When not in use, keep your masks organised and in a location that is easy to access.

5. If you are using a cloth mask, take note if it begins to fray, slip from your face or no longer fits snugly across on your face. If you need to constantly adjust it, consider replacing it.

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Introducing our braille logo

Our goal is to build braille into our brand so that it becomes authentically woven in to how we express ourselves as an organisation and also to give people the confidence to use braille appropriately.

tn: Blind Low Vision NZ logo. On the left are three orange dots, of various sizes. Next to that, on two lines, is Blind Low Vision NZ. Beneath this in uncontracted braille is blind low vision nz. End tn.

Chantelle Griffiths, Adaptive Communications/ACATS, is one of the in house team of braille experts who we consulted to ensure the logo is in line with braille protocols in terms of size and positioning. Chantelle tells us what having a braille logo means to her and why it’s important.

“Braille is the primary literacy medium for people who are blind or have low vision, and a core part of our identity as an organisation. Having a braille logo is a great way to showcase the importance of braille in the everyday lives of people who are blind or have low vision. Braille creates opportunities by providing direct access to tactile literacy, and I hope that seeing it in our logo makes people curious to know what it means, and to find out more about how braille—and all the other services we offer—may be able to help.”

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Community Events

The Covid-19 public health crisis has meant that our community events have been on hold. As the alert levels change around the country we hope to get some of these events up and running, here are a few events that have been able to go ahead.

Celebrating our volunteers in Ashburton, 23 July

The Ashburton Community committee had their member lunch and equipment day and took the opportunity to acknowledged volunteers for length of service.

Caption: Eleanor Weir, volunteering for 25 years, is with Betty Wilson, volunteering for 15 years, and Lynne Curd, volunteering for five years, all received certificates.

Deep South Archery Club opens its doors to our members in Level 1, 17 November

Ardy Ayto, Club president of Deep South Archery is very enthusiastic about members of Blind Low Vision NZ joining in with the Thursday sessions at the Archery Club. On 17 November, members from Otago and Southland are meeting up in Invercargill to have a day of indoor bowls and or cycling at the velodrome and an afternoon of Archery.

Caption: Richard Patton (having an archery lesson) and Deep South Archery Club President Ardy Ayto.

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Mid-Winter Christmas in Taranaki, 15 July

Taranaki volunteers, Graham and Val Mosen have a very productive property. A patch of their vegetable garden is set aside for the Taranaki blind gardeners group to plant and grow kumara and potatoes. The group is keen to support those with reduced vision to enjoy gardening in an accessible way.

The team in Taranaki celebrated the end of lockdown with a mid-winter Christmas dinner at the New Plymouth Blind Centre. Several staff and volunteers prepared the meal, and two blind musicians provided the entertainment. Val and Graham’s lovely contribution of roasted pumpkin was home-grown.

Caption: Mid-Winter feast at the New Plymouth Blind Centre.

Caption: Kumara harvesting.

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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Skydive for Blind Low Vision NZ

Did you know Blind Low Vision NZ runs an annual skydive event?

Participants sign up to raise $800 each, and in return get to skydive for free! Maryanne from West Auckland has low vision and took on the challenge in 2018. She tells us what it felt like to free-fall from 13,000ft:

“I just couldn’t pass up this amazing opportunity. I thought the fundraising would be the hard part, but my friends, family and workmates were legends and I was stoked to raise $1,846. The jump and the free-fall were incredible and I can’t wait to do it again. For anyone thinking about ticking it off their bucket list, I say go for it!”

Next event is on 5 December.

Caption: Maryanne taking part in our annual skydive event.


If you’d like more information, please contact Hannah on fundraise@blindlowvision.org.nz
or 0800 120 254

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Deafblind Association NZ Charitable Trust Taringa Turi Kāpō Rōpū

Message from Amanda Stevens, Executive Officer Deafblind Association NZ

As a Charitable Trust, we are here for the sole benefit of deafblind. We have a Board of five extraordinarily skilled people, some of whom also live with deafblindness, plus an Executive Officer working 25 hours a week (that’s me—completely blind and partially deaf). I answer all communications, so you will always get a one-to-one response. Person by person we reach out to any of you experiencing the complexity that comes from living with degrees of sight and/or hearing loss that impact on relating to people and the world around you.

People often ask us about whether they can get hearing aids funded or be put in touch with others using audio devices who have more experience so they can make informed decisions. We help with those and other questions. Let’s turn “loss” on its head and think about the gifts we bring to our communities through diversity. Deafblind Association NZ has no membership fee or protocol for joining; you only need to let us know you are out there and wish to be contacted and what way suits you best. We have a free phone number, email address, website, and a Telephone Information Service (TIS) line where you can leave a message to be played to others and hear theirs, too:

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There are also free regional calling numbers for the Telephone Information Service, so please just ask the Call Centre at Blind Low Vision NZ.

Blind Low Vision NZ funds us to provide peer-to-peer support to augment their service provision, alongside regular contact with their Deafblind Coordinators. We also receive funding from Rātā Foundation and the Lottery Minister’s Discretionary Fund.

You might have communication skills around hearing, but are now losing vision, or skills around blindness and are now losing hearing. We collaborate with organisations in the blindness sector, as well as deaf organisations such as Tu Tangata Turi, Deaf Aotearoa, and NZSL interpreting agencies. We are regularly in contact with the World Federation of the Deafblind (WFDB) and reach out to our friends in Australia, Canada, and Scandinavia. We support the Relay Service, particularly in respect of those who are non-verbal. That means we support you to connect with others living with deafblindness so you can meet up in your area, online, or by Zoom.

Be seen, be heard, be connected!

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Special interest and peer support groups

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

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The gift of a life without limits

One in three of our services are funded by generous individuals who leave a gift in their Will to Blind Low Vision NZ.

A gift in your Will of as little as 1% can make a lasting difference to Kiwis living with vision loss.

Please contact Supporter Care on 0800 366 283 or


to receive an information pack today.

Blind Low Vision NZ

Formerly Blind Foundation

End of Outlook Spring 2020