Weekly update: 10 May 2024

Kia ora Tatou,

Hello to all of us,

It has been a very enriching week for some of us and there are many people to thank for this. Let me start with Audio Described Aotearoa, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for a stunningly accessible performance of Swan Lake. Then there is Nelson Provincial Museum Pupuri Taonga o Te Tai Ao and Ang Pearson, Audio Describer, for a hilarious walk-through of photos of animals in comic positions. The pivotal people in both these circumstances are our whānau, friends, and volunteers that add much to the richness of these experiences.

I also want to thank Mojo Mathers, Chief Executive of Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA), for the opportunity to sign the open letter to the Minister of Disability Issues, Louise Upston and Minister of Finance, Nicola Willis, which calls for a reversal of the cuts to flexible funding, increased resourcing for disabled people across the whole of Government, and for disabled people, whānau and the wider disability community to be a part of decisions made about their community. Please note this is an organisational initiative, however until the end of Sunday 12 May there is opportunity for individuals to provide feedback to DPA through their online survey, which asks:

  • how you’re doing since Whaikaha released clarifications to the disability funding changes
  • whether you are still affected by the funding changes, and if so how
  • how other government changes are affecting you.

DPA will use the responses to inform the work we do, from our campaigns through to submissions. The link to the survey follows:

Answer the DPA survey about disability funding changes – how are you?


Swan Lake – Royal New Zealand Ballet and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Nicola Owen, Audio Described Aotearoa, has kindly gifted us the opening scene to Swan Lake here.

“The curtain rises on the garden of Prince Siegfried’s castle. Villagers dance together joyfully.

On the left a group of women circle hand in hand, kicking up their heels.

One guy perches on another’s shoulders. He leaps down, waves to a group of women and then another.

Two more men go down on one knee. Hands to their hearts they profess their love for two young women in white. The women push them over playfully and the guys jump up and twirl the women off their feet.

Dancers skip forward in groups of three.

A young man bounds to the centre, leaps high into side splits, flips into a cartwheel and is lifted by two other men who hold him up by his hands, legs wide and toes curled upwards. They lower him into a forward roll and he lands at the feet of two excited children.”

And as if that was not enough, I quietly asked after the performance if I could touch the foot of a ballet dancer En Pointe. Georgia kindly obliged and went up on tippy toes for a few minutes while we chatted. She is so beautiful, skilled, strong, and gracious! RNZB will not be adding this to future Touch Tours however Lauren Byrne of RNZB, enabled this particular dream of mine to come true. Thank you Lauren! Here is what she says about the dancers, “our dancers are extremely talented not only technically but artistically too. They use their facial expressions and body language to tell the story sometimes even more than the ballet steps. All of our lead dancers in Swan Lake have researched different companies from around the world and their versions of Swan Lake, to enable them to perform something truly unique to each performance”.

Beauty and artistry were available in so many ways!


Nelson Provincial Museum

Ang Pearson, Audio Describer, writes, “Photographer, Julie Hunt, location unknown. Title “It’s not funny, I’ve got cramp in my flipper!”

A photograph on canvas a little larger than A4 size. A pale grey seal lies on a rocky shoreline. It sprawls on its left side, propped up on his one flipper, the other flipper curled across his midsection . His head is thrown back, eyes squeezed shut, mouth open. He looks very much. like a favourite fat uncle, propped up at the bar, clutching his belly and laughing uproariously at his own jokes.”

Ryan Winter, Visitor Host, writes, “When the tour started I noticed how dim the overall lighting was in the gallery and decided to turn on the cleaners lights to brighten up the space more. I was inspired to join in with the tour to see how a professional works with Blind, Deafblind, and Low Vision members of the public, so that I would have an idea what to do if I were to lead my own tours in the future. It was an informative and eye opening experience to both be part of the tour and to talk with both you and Ange.”

Someone in the tour asked if the background music could be turned off to make it easier for those of us with hearing impairment. That is how I met someone who is now wanting to come to Nelson monthly gatherings. It’s amazing who you meet! 😊

I have taken a little time to fill in details from these two experiences because it all comes back to relationships – he tangata, he tangata, he tangata – it’s people, it’s people, it’s people. Please keep reaching out to those you know who might want to be connected too.


Your feedback requested

Stats NZ – Census Accessibility

This note from Stats NZ was shared by Thomas Bryan on the BlindDiscuss List:

Public consultation for the future of census has begun. Public consultation will run until 18 June 2024.

Please visit the following links to read more information.


The future of census: creating greater value for our communities (Stats NZ)

Alternate formats for the Future Census consultation (Stats NZ)

The 2028 Census will be a key milestone in our journey to reimagine and modernize the way we produce data and statistics, and we would love for as many people living in Aotearoa New Zealand as possible to let us know what they think a future census should look like and what is important to them!


Besides the links included in the above notice, information also can be found on TellMe. When dialling TellMe, or when using your smart speaker, you can check what’s new on TellMe or go direct to option 5 and then option 2 from the main menu.

You can call TellMe on their call free number to find out your nearest local number.

0800 TELLME // 0800 835 563

Or refer to our list of numbers below the sign-off and event reminders.



Peer to Peer Gatherings

Whakatū – Nelson – Saturday 11 May – meets monthly on 2nd Saturday

Kirikiriroa – Hamilton Tuesday 14 May – Organiser Judy Small.

Tāmaki Makaurau – North Auckland – Saturday 18 May.

Tāmaki Makaurau – South Auckland – Sunday 19 May.

Taranaki – New Plymouth – meets bi-monthly.

Manawatū /Te Papa-i-Oea – Palmerston North – Wednesday 10 July – meets quarterly.

Kāpiti – Friday 12 July – meets quarterly.

Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Wellington/Lower Hutt – Saturday 13 July – meets quarterly.

Please contact us if you are interested in attending any of these events by replying to this email or calling Amanda on 0800 450 650.

Audio described NZ Opera – Le comte Ory

From New Zealand Opera via Mary Schnackenberg.

Come on a wild ride as we unveil Rossini’s comic opera masterpiece, Le comte Ory, presented for the first time by NZ Opera. A whirlwind blend of silly and sublime, Le comte Ory’s music and script are bursting with Rossini’s trademark pizzazz, with a contemporary (and very Kiwi) staging by Simon Phillips and Tracy Grant Lord breathing new and vivid life into the work.

Audio Described Aotearoa will be describing performances in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Te Whanga-Nui-A-Tara Wellington, and Ōtautahi Christchurch. A free touch tour of our set, some costumes and key props will be held 2 hours before each audio described show, giving you a chance to gain a behind-the-scenes insight into the production.

Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

  • When: Saturday, 1 June: 5:30pm Touch Tour, 7:30pm Audio-described performance
  • Where: Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre, Aotea Centre, 50 Mayoral Drive, Auckland Central

Te Whanga-Nui-A-Tara Wellington

  • When: Saturday, 15 June: 5:30pm Touch Tour, 7:30pm Audio-described performance
  • Where: St James Theatre, 77-81 Courtenay Place, Wellington

Ōtautahi Christchurch

  • When: Saturday, 29 June: 5:30pm Touch Tour, 7:30pm Audio-described performance
  • Where: Isaac Theatre Royal, 145 Gloucester Street, Christchurch Central

Adult Tickets start from $79 and a free companion ticket is available if required. Guide dogs are very welcome.

To book: Call our wonderful Ticketing Manager Julie Bird on 0800 696 737 or +64 9 379 4068 or email boxoffice@nzopera.co.nz. Box office hours are Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm.


Articles and reports

Living Blindfully

Thank you to Jonathan Mosen for this keeping us up to date on these important developments. I am sure many of us will benefit from this work. Please do keep us posted on future developments. We are always glad to share with our community, as far and wide as we can – be Seen be Heard be Connected!

In the most recent episode of Living Blindfully, I produced an audio demo, with tips, on how a blind person can engage with the MyPhonak and MyRogerMic apps, as well as discussing features. The response from blind hearing aid wearers around the world has been huge. Living Blindfully has listeners in 113 countries so it has a very wide reach.

The audio is part of the two-hour episode at the link below.

Episode 279:A user review of the Seleste Smart Glasses, an accessible Washer dryer from LG, and going in-depth into accessible Phonak hearing aid technology (Living Blindfully)

A transcript is also available below.

Transcript, episode 279 (Living Blindfully)

Like any podcast, it’s available in all the usual apps.

Research on the barriers to diversity in the Aotearoa tech sector

This report was released in December 2023 but has also come to us from Thomas Bryan via the BlindDiscuss List:

“All over the world, diversity and inclusion is one of the biggest challenges facing the tech industry today, and New Zealand is no exception,” said Dr Claire Robinson, CEO of the Toi Mai Workforce Development Council on the release of new research looking into the disparity of access for underrepresented communities, including tāngata whaikaha (disabled people), Māori, Pacific peoples, women and LGBTQIA+ people, into the tech workforce.

The Toi Mai research highlights the many complex barriers to inclusion that have been holding tāngata whaikaha, in particular, back from entering the tech sector’s workforce.

From the domestic environment to education to industry, these barriers include a lack of digital access for homes facing socioeconomic challenges, biased academic counselling in schools, and a widespread lack of awareness within the tech industry of tāngata whaikaha and culturally specific needs.

Toi Mai makes a number of recommendations in the report for government, industry, employers, education providers and teachers to address the barriers.

New Zealand’s tech sector is the country’s second largest export sector. It’s a creator of high-skill, high-wage jobs and products that change people’s lives. It’s one of the fastest growing career fields in the country and needs a further 30,000 jobs by 2030 based on current growth trends.

Dr Robinson noted that 79% of New Zealand tech companies surveyed by Toi Mai report facing recruitment challenges over the past 12 months. And yet only 5% of the tech workforce is Māori and 4.4% is Pacific, while women make up just 29% of the digital technologies workforce (NZTech). Data on tāngata whaikaha and LGBTQIA+ is less known. “While all these communities are avid users of tech, they remain heavily underrepresented across the workforce,” she said.

This research builds on the findings contained in two reports released by Toi Mai earlier this year into the ‘Leaky Pipeline’ – the barriers to access for young women in the creative technology (Createch) sector.

Link to the screen version below.

PDF: Barriers to diversity in the Aotearoa tech sector (Toi Mai Workforce Development Council)

Link to the research in alternate formats below.

Website links to report formats (Toi Mai Workforce Development Council)

Link to prior Createch research reports are available from Tomai Workforce Development Council at the link below.

Our publications (Toi Mai Workforce Development Council)


Other newsletters

DPA Information Exchange: 8 May 2024

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.

Link to weekly update 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)

Ngā mihi mahana,
Warm regards,


Event reminders

Christchurch Saturday 25th May, 1.30pm, Isaac Theatre Royal – Royal New Zealand Ballet Swan Lake – Audio Description 2024

Details were provided in 26 April update.

26 April update

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

Deafblind International Co-Network Coordinator Expression of Interest closes 31 May

Details were provided in 22 March update.

Expression of Interest Form (DOCX 242 KB)

22 March update

World Federation of the Deafblind Youth Committee

Applications for young individuals with deafblindness (aged 18-35) to join WFDB’s newly established Youth Committee close 2 June. Information was provided in 22 March update, or for more information about the Youth Committee and application guidelines, please visit the website.

22 March update

Join WFDB’s Youth Committee: Call for Deafblind Representatives (World Federation of the Deafblind)

Blindness and Mental Health Summit

Friday, June 14 at 12:00PM ET, which is 4:00AM on Saturday, June 15 NZST. Details were provided in 3 May update.

3 May update

June 2024Deafblind 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.

Thursday 3 October Deafblind UK Online Conference 2024 Theme: “Standing out and fitting in”. The conference is free and all are welcome.

1st to 3rd March 2025

DbI Asian Regional Conference Pokhara Nepal.



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)

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.

Living Blindfully

Weekly show hosted by Jonathan Mosen

Living Blindfully audio episodes (Living Blindfully)

Blind Spot, Radio Southland

Monthly show hosted by Carolyn Weston

Blind Spot on Radio Southland

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