Weekly update: 12 January 2024

Kia ora Tatou,

Hello to all of us,

A warm start, both heart and weather, to you all from the Board, myself, Sarah, and Aimee – your team – here at Deafblind Association NZ Charitable Trust. I think of the New Year as “New Possibilities” and I make the same resolution each year, “This year I will do something I have never done before”. I am always on a winner because I can choose to get my head around a new technology item and, bingo, I can put a tick beside that one! 2024 is full of possibilities!


Peer to Peer Groups

We have made a good start with Nelson having gathered this week. Once again we talked about wrestling our Smart technology into submission, and one of our group had gone swimming in the sea and popped hearing aids in afterwards however they had soaked up moisture and then the filters needed cleaning. A handy hint for those of you sea swimming this season.

Wellington / Lower Hutt – meeting 27 January in Wellington. Please phone or text if you would like to join us. Transport is always available so just ask. We have a What’sApp group and an email group for easy communication. Otherwise just call or text me on 0800 450 650.

Kāpiti have our inaugural meeting on Friday, 26 January with lunch and transport provided so once again please contact me if you want to be part of that now or going forwards.


New Year’s Honours congratulations

Now we feature three very special people, along with some of those who have benefitted from their leadership. Rose Wilkinson, Paul Gibson, and Helen Gordon have been honoured in the New Year’s Honours List:

To be an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit:

WILKINSON, Ms Rosemary Dawn (Rose)

For services to the blind and vision impaired community

Ms Rose Wilkinson has been an advocate for the rights of blind and vision-impaired people for more than 30 years.

Ms Wilkinson’s initial involvement was coordinating school exams and curriculum content for production in Braille for blind students at Manurewa High School. She has worked for the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand (now Blind Citizens New Zealand) since 1991 and is currently Chief Executive. As Chief Executive, she has led national accessibility initiatives benefitting blind people, including Telephone Dictation Voting, Audio Description, and the New Zealand Census. She has been a leading member of the Disabled People’s Organisations Coalition (DPO) since mid-2000, serving as a DPO appointed representative on the Independent Monitoring Mechanism (IMM), monitoring the government’s implementation of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). In 2022 she helped coordinate the first online Domestic Forum for disabled people from the IMM to ask questions of Ministers and officials. She played a leading role coordinating the DPO delegation to Switzerland to take part in New Zealand’s country review by the UNCRPD. Ms Wilkinson has been instrumental in the development and introduction of the Accessibility Charter and a strong advocate for producing materials into alternate formats for the blind community, including the dissemination of government information during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In honouring leadership by Rose, I also want to mention some leadership that sprung from courses she organised. We honoured the passing of Brian Say late last year. Recently I was sent a photo taken at his memorial.

Brian Say – past Board Member Blind Citizens NZ and Nelson Chair, (deafblind), and mentor to; Ann Taylor – past President Disabled Persons Assembly Canterbury, past President Birthright Christchurch, (deafblind); Kaye Halkett – past Chair Nelson Branch Blind Citizens NZ, Leadership Course 2011, Accessibility for All Forum, (deafblind); Gill Clayton – past National Councillor Nelson Branch Blind Citizens NZ, Leadership Course2014, Accessibility for All Forum, (blind); Amanda Stevens – past Chair Nelson Branch Blind Citizens NZ, Leadership Course 2012, accessibility for All Forum, current Executive Officer Deafblind Association NZCharitable Trust, (deafblind).

Everyone was on the committee for Nelson Branch Blind Citizens, in some cases for up to ten years.

It’s just wonderful that Brian’s photo appears above us!


Message from the RNZFB Board Chair, Clive Lansink

I am pleased to announce that the Board of Directors has appointed Andrea Midgen as the next Chief Executive of Blind Low Vision NZ.

She is a proven leader with many years of extensive CEO and senior executive experience – both within and outside the not for profit sector. She has excelled at demonstrating a clear sense of purpose and vision throughout her career. She was Chief Executive Officer of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) for 7 years. Before that she was Group Strategist/CFO for Southern Cross Group and held several senior executive roles in Vodafone, culminating as Director, Customer Operations. During her time at Vodafone, she also developed her governance background in the charitable trusts environment having been the Chair of the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation.

An alumna of Unitec Te Pūkenga with a Chartered Accountant (CA) qualification, Andrea Midgen brings a wealth of experience in organisational leadership, financial acumen, and stakeholder management.

Andrea will work with the other members of the Executive Leadership Team to lead Blind Low Vision NZ to achieve the organisation’s purpose and strategic objectives of empowering blind and low vision New Zealanders to live the life they choose. She has a pragmatic and genuine leadership style – a great asset for building on our recent successes and creating a positive future for our organisation.

Andrea will be starting her role at Blind Low Vision NZ on Tuesday 30th January, and I’m sure you’ll all join me in giving her a warm welcome.


Join the World Blind Union as a Communications Specialist!

The World Blind Union (WBU) is seeking a dynamic Communications Specialist to join our team and drive our global communication efforts. This contract position, reporting directly to Marc Workman, CEO, offers a flexible location and an initial one-year term, with the prospect of renewal based on funding availability. Applications are open until January 26, 2024.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Develop and implement a robust communication strategy aligned with WBU’s strategic goals.
  • Oversee social media content, manage the website and email communications, and ensure brand consistency.
  • Lead special communication projects, including support during international conferences and events.

Who Should Apply:

  • Individuals with a university/college degree in marketing, new media, communications, or related fields.
  • Candidates with a minimum of five years of experience in communications, especially in global organizations and/or advocacy.
  • Proficiency in digital marketing, website management, social media, project management, and digital accessibility is essential.
  • Fluent in English, with proficiency in French and/or Spanish highly desirable.

We Value Diversity: WBU is committed to inclusivity and diversity. We especially encourage applications from individuals who are blind or partially sighted and those from diverse backgrounds.

Apply Now: To apply, send your resume and cover letter to Marc Workman at marc.workman@wbu.ngo by the deadline of January 26. be a part of our journey in advocating for the rights and inclusion of the blind and partially sighted community worldwide!

The full job posting additional information is available for download as a word document at the following link:

World Blind Union – Communications Specialist job listing (DOCX 55 KB)


be My Eyes News

I use be My Eyes periodically for identification of necessary things like when I have dropped a sewing needle on the floor and don’t want Wallace to step on it, or when I am in the middle of cooking something and can’t identify the next critical ingredient and can’t wait until tomorrow when the next sighted person might come, or when I have dropped that essential butterfly off the back of my favourite earrings. I don’t mind face timing friends or calling be My Eyes but now there is even a better feature! Read here:

be My Eyes is pleased to announce a major new feature called be My Eyes Groups! Now Your Friends And Family Can Offer You Personal Assistance Through be My Eyes.

For years we’ve heard from our community that not every person is comfortable asking for help from an unknown volunteer, no matter how kind. That’s why, starting today, be My Eyes is offering a major new capability to give blind people more choices.

In addition to our existing 7.1 million volunteers, now blind people worldwide can also build their own custom network of people to help with everyday tasks. Build your own trusted group of friends or family to help with more personal and sensitive tasks you might not wish to share with an unknown volunteer – it’s your choice.

Maybe you need a friend or family member to confirm a medication. Or maybe you would feel more comfortable with a friend reviewing your paper mail. Surely among 20 friends and family members someone would be happy to help you out at the moment you need it. Now be My eyes technology makes that easy. Once you’ve assembled your trusted group, just press the “My groups” button to connect with the first available person who is known to you.

To create a new group, click on “My groups” in the be My Eyes App homepage and follow the instructions on the screen. After you have created and named your first group, you will be able to send an invite link to your friends and family members. You will find the link at the end of the group creation process. Once you’ve assembled your trusted circle, just press the be My Eyes Groups button to connect with the first available person who is known to you. You can enter up to 20 people in your circle and have up to 5 different groups on be My Eyes.

When you’ve set it up, your group will always be there to help, in any language you and your friends speak. And just like the other be My Eyes features such as standard volunteers, Specialized Help and now be My AI, our new be My Eyes Groups feature is free of charge for non commercial use.

We’ll roll out be My Eyes Groups worldwide beginning December 20th as an open beta test to ensure it’s working well for our worldwide user group. To access this new feature, just open the current be My Eyes app and click on the button marked “My groups” to start creating your individual trusted group.

We welcome user feedback about the feature. Write to us at info@bemyeyes.com so we can continue to improve this service.

Learn more about our new be My Eyes Groups feature in our new blog post.

Blog post: Be My Eyes Integrates New Feature to Receive Visual Assistance From Friends and Family Members

For a step-by-step guide about how to create your own trusted group, visit the link below.

How do I use Be My Eyes Friends and Family Groups?


World Federation of the Deafblind First Global Report on the Situation of Older Persons with Deafblindness

“This report sheds light on the challenges faced by older persons with deafblindness, covering recurring themes, including barriers, good practices, and recommendations.

Developed within the context of the SHAPES Project, WFDB’s participation provided an excellent platform for collecting data, feedback, and findings on the situation of older persons with deafblindness, identifying key challenges, gaps, and barriers. WFDB has decided to compile this information, along with existing research and literature, into a living document that will outlast the project and serve various purposes for different stakeholders.

We extend our gratitude to all of the contributors to the report, which include those involved in the SHAPES Project and WFDB President Sanja Tarczay, as well as WFDB members and allies for sharing literature sources and participating in WFDB’s survey on older people with deafblindness. We also want to express our gratitude to the International Disability Alliance (IDA) for their invaluable collaboration in this process.”

Full and summary reports are available for download in a range of formats at the following link.

World Federation of the Deafblind – December 2023 report


Links to other newsletters

Touch Compass newsletter: December 2023

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)

As usual, event reminders and TellMe phone numbers follow.

Ngā mihi mahana,
Warm regards,
Sarah on behalf of Amanda


Event reminders

Touch Compass presents AIGA at Auckland Arts Festival March 2024

AIGA (the Samoan word for family/whanau) is a World Premiere of a new ground-breaking Disability-led, Pasifika-led work of theatre exploring personal identity, life’s struggles and triumphs, family and desire. Details were provided in 24 November update.

25 to 31 May 2024, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland – International Council on English Braille 8th General Assembly

2024 Activity Deafblind International Youth Network (DbIYN)

Monday 30th September to Friday 4th October in Disneyland Paris

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


Ongoing – 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