Weekly update: 1 March 2024

Kia ora Tatou,

Hello to all of us,

Last week we introduced Tom Eats and Phil Thorn as new Board Members and promised to introduce you to our third new Board member. Drum roll please as we introduce Sally Britnell…

My name is Sally Britnell. I am a 50-something-year-old woman who doesn’t like to sit still for long, is usually positive and bubbly and always doing something for others.

Those who know me will know that I am dedicated to craft, beach walks and sharing my life with my Guide Dog, Sienna.

Ever the emergency department nurse, computer scientist and teacher, I am solutions-focused and like to find and make the most of utilising teachable moments rather than assumptions.

I was approached to join the board by multiple members of the Deafblind Association New Zealand and I am happy to help make a difference. I bring experience from other and leadership positions I have held and am well known for listening and down to earth communication.

Sally works at Auckland University of Technology, who describe her as “Dr Sally Britnell is a remarkable person, blending her journey with her professional accomplishments. Born with low vision that progressed to blindness and deafness, Sally’s life is a story of resilience and determination. She has made significant strides in health informatics and nursing, driven by her own experiences with disability. She is a Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow at Auckland University of Technology and a leader, director or trustee in various health and disability organisations. She’s known for her innovative thinking and dedication to accessibility and disability rights. Sally’s journey is not just about overcoming challenges but also about using her insights to create a more inclusive and empathetic world. Her work in academia, health care and advocacy showcases her commitment to making a difference in the lives of others, particularly in championing accessibility and inclusivity.”

On Monday Phil and I presented to fifty people from around the motu in respect of “Meaningful Access to the Arts for Deafblind”. I spoke to great access with some examples, including Audio Described Aotearoa and Museums Wellington, and also a disappointing experience from my perspective where tactile had been interpreted as a visual experience but not touch available. Arts Access Aotearoa hosted this event and have said they have had some great feedback. Claire Noble, Pātaka Public Programmes and Events Coordinator, contacted us the same day to offer a gathering space that will offer us interesting surroundings, a fully accessible space, parking, and accessible toilet. This is what I envisage for all groups around the motu every time we meet – a truly nourishing experience for deafblind! Here’s the link to know more about Pataka.


While in Ottawa at the Deafblind International conference last year Kevin and I met Dr Peter Simcock, Liz Duncan, and Femke Krijger – three simply lovely professionals in the world of deafblindness raising awareness around the world. They facilitate the Acquired Deafblind Network hosted by Deafblind International. It is free to join this network and be connected with over 400 deafblind people around the globe and to join webinars that are very informative. Here is a link to the details.

Register individual DbI and network membership (Deafblind International DbI)

Thanks once again to Elizabeth, one of our regular contributors and advocates for the following information.

“On Monday evening I had watched the Fair Go programme which said that nobody in NZ should be disadvantaged if they did not have technology or had difficulty using technology to complete tasks that many people commonly complete on-line. I had been told that at the end of January all Countdown supermarkets were being rebranded to Woolworths.

On Tuesday, I phoned the Woolworths Customer Service centre on 0800 40 40 40 as I had had difficulty applying for cards through websites in the past. There was a pre-recorded message at the start before customers were invited to follow the prompts for the type of enquiry they had. I pressed the prompt for Everyday Rewards cards. There was another pre-recorded message which included a statement to the effect that customers could not use this phone line to apply for a card but needed to do it through their website. I got through to a customer service officer within 2 or 3 minutes. I started off saying: I have a problem which according to Woolworths pre-recorded message I am unsure whether you can resolve but I need your input to suggest who could help me. I explained about the nature of my disability and that sight loss made it difficult to navigate and complete forms on their website. I mentioned what had been said on Fair Go. The customer service officer said that in the circumstances she was sure she could help me. She asked me for my name and phone number and was able to get up my details for my Countdown One Card. She checked through these details and then ordered the new card for me. She said it might take 7 to 10 working days for the card to be despatched and that the balance from One Card would be automatically transferred to my new Everyday Rewards card. I thanked her very much. I asked if I could mention my conversation to others in our Deafblind community and she said of course. When I said I expected that Woolworths would get a few calls from older seniors and members of the disabled community as a result of the Fair Go programme she did not disagree.”


Article: RNZ National acknowledgment of International Cochlear Implant Day on the Sunday Morning programme

Introduction: February 25 is International Cochlear Implant Day and Wellington’s Dr. Amanda Kvalsvig joins us for a very special edition of “What I’m Listening To”.

Amanda had always been musical – singing, playing the piano and violin, and playing in orchestras, but at the age of 19 she first noticed she was losing her hearing.

In 2007 she received her first cochlear implant in Christchurch. At the time she had a toddler and a nine-month-old child.

Hearing music again was a transformative difference. She joins us to pick a track and explains why it’s special to her.

Link to interview audio file below.

Music and my cochlear implants 18′22″ – Sunday morning 25 February 10:30am (RNZ)

RNZ National also included a diagram of a cochlear implant, which we have copied below.

Diagram of a cochlear implant. Source: RNZ.

Link to the full item on the RNZ website, including a transcription of the interview.

Music and my cochlear implants


Other newsletters

Blind Sport New Zealand: February 2024 Newsletter

Carers New Zealand: February 2024 Update

DPA Information Exchange: 24 February

The D*List

The D*List website is an online culture magazine that creates space for disabled people to tell their own stories through features, columns and news reporting.

This week we are including an additional link straight to The D*List Delivered, where their newsletter can be accessed as well as the link to the website (further below).

The D*List Delivered (Substack)

Following is a link to have a browse of The D*List website or sign up to receive their weekly newsletter.

The D*List

Be Seen be Heard be Connected Weekly Update

Please note, access to our weekly be Seen Be Heard Be Connected emails is also available on our website via our events page, at the following link.

News and events (Deafblind Association New Zealand)



Deafblind UK Online Conference 2024 with the theme “Standing out and fitting in” is on Thursday 3 October. The conference is free and all are welcome.

Ngā mihi mahana,
Warm regards,


Event reminders

Leading Change – A Webinar for Women with Disability on Leadership

Friday 8 March, free online event. Details were provided in 16 February update.

7 to 24 March, Auckland Arts Festival 2024

Details were provided in 9 February update. Contact information follows.

Email: access@aaf.co.nz.

Phone/text: 022 306 2206.

Link to website below.

Access & Inclusion (Auckland Arts Festival)

2024 Audio Described Nationwide Events Booklet

The events list with booklet page numbers was provided in the 23 February update.

23 February update

The full calendar is available as a word document via the following link.

2024 Events Information (DOCX 60 KB)

25 to 31 May, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland – International Council on English Braille 8th General Assembly

June 2024 Deafblind Awareness month – Yarn bombing

#DbIYarnBombing2024 – information was provided in 21 January update.

21 January update

2024 Activity Deafblind International Youth Network (DbIYN)

Monday 30 September to Friday 4 October in Disneyland Paris.

Expression of Interest: Please contact simon.allison@sense.org.uk.



No Labels on Wellington Access Radio

You can listen to this edition of the show on Wellington Access Radio on Tuesday just after 1:00pm, or the following Tuesday at the same time.

“If you miss the scheduled show, you can check it out later online at the link below.

No Labels (Wellington Access Radio)

Or you can subscribe to the show via your preferred podcast player to check out this episode or previous episodes of the show.

Entertainment with Able

Able is a not-for-profit organisation working towards a more inclusive Aotearoa, believing everyone should be able to access news, entertainment and culture. Funded by NZ On Air, they’re Aotearoa’s leading provider of media access services, including captioning services, subtitling and audio description.

Listings are available at the following browser links.

A link to Able’s website to subscribe to the weekly newsletter with listings and picks of the week follows.



Deafblind Association New Zealand access to TellMe

See TellMe numbers for your area


End of report and this week’s update.

Amanda Stevens
Executive Officer
Taringa Turi Kāpō Rōpū
Deafblind Association New Zealand