Weekly update: 18 August 2023

Kia ora tatou,

Hello to all of us,

With our AGM in Wellington fast approaching it’s a busy time here at Deafblind Association NZ . We do hope you would like to join us for the morning and a light lunch. If you are in the wider Wellington area we can support your transport. Where: Braille House, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington

When: Sunday 27 August, gathering from 10:30am for 11am meeting.

Please email Sarah boardsecretary@deafblindassociation.nz or call Amanda on 0800 450 650 if you are interested in attending in person or via Zoom.


Social Haptics

Following on from Kevin’s and my attendance in Ottawa at the Deafblind International 18th World Conference, here is an opportunity you may wish to join in. We met a vibrant woman from the Netherlands called Klaske and she uses Social Haptics as part of her day to day life. It was great to know she was just passing by or wanted to chat because she used her “body name” on my arm to let me know who was there. She first learned about Social Haptics at the last Conference on the Gold Coast four years ago and is now teaching and developing this method of communication.

Here is what it is about.

Deafblind interpreting is a complex task, requiring guide-interpreters to have linguistic skills, guiding skills, and descriptive skills. Social-haptic communication (SHC) is a method that perfectly suits the need to briefly convey relevant contextual information to the deafblind without interrupting the ongoing action or translation. SHC is also a great resource in educational contexts, enabling the transfer of both social and environmental information to deafblind learners.

While SHC is extensively used in Scandinavian countries, Italy is just now witnessing the emergence of such a communication method. I am most inspired by the presentation on how Social Haptics is used when training with a Guide Dog.

The conference is in Venice and I’m sure many of us would love to be there too, however there is a Zoom link to join. The time difference is ten hours behind us so middle of the night stuff but well worth it I’m hoping.

Unfortunately registration comes with a captcha, which I was very surprised about. There is a “contact us” section though so if you email them direct they will be able to support you I am sure. Social Haptics is increasingly developing as part of deafbllind communication so I hope you can make it. If not I’ll be sending notes out later.

Hapticconf 2023: Conference on Social-Haptic Communication (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)

Attendance is free of charge. To attend, both in person and remotely, you will need to register online before September 1st. The link to register via google forms follows.

Hapticconf 2023 registration (Google Docs)

The Zoom link will be sent some days before the conference, provided that you have registered.


Show your knowledge of Braille and your commitment to accuracy and standards

The Trans-Tasman Certificate of Proficiency in Unified English Braille Jointly administered by The Braille Authority of New Zealand Aotearoa Trust and The Australian Braille Authority. Closing Date: Friday, 1 September 2023

Attention Braille users and professionals.

You are warmly invited to apply to sit the Trans-Tasman Certificate of Proficiency in Unified English Braille. All the details about the Certificate are on the BANZAT website at the following link.

2023 invitation (BANZAT)

A link to the application form follows.

BANZAT Braille Certificate Application (BANZAT)

The Certificate in UEB is an open book examination which should be completed without conferring with others. The examination period runs for two weeks. This year week 1 begins Monday 2 October and Week 2 begins Monday 9 October. Candidates choose the week in which to complete the exam. Examination papers will arrive by the Friday, prior to the candidates’ chosen week. Candidates may begin the examination as soon as the paper arrives.

Results summaries will be sent out on Monday 13 November. For New Zealand candidates, there is a re-sits option for those who are unsuccessful at their first attempt. Unsuccessful candidates who take up the re-sits option need to apply by 20 November by emailing the Examinations Committee exam@banzat.org.nz

In the week of 11 December, each candidate will receive a report detailing any errors made in the exam. At the same time certificates for the successful candidates will be sent out.

Practice papers and the New Zealand edition of the UEB Manual are available on the BANZAT website at:

Information about the Trans-Tasman Certificate of Proficiency in Unified English Braille (BANZAT)

For further information or any queries please contact the examinations Committee, email exam@banzat.org.nz or phone 0800 BANZAT (0800 226928).

We welcome your applications.

Mary A. Schnackenberg
The Braille Authority of New Zealand Aotearoa Trust

Email: secretary@banzat.org.nz


Opportunity to inform research about disabled people’s experiences of supports and services in Aotearoa New Zealand

This information also appeared on the Blind Discuss Group List.

Blind Citizens NZ along with other disabled people’s organisations that are part of the DPO Coalition, work alongside the Donald Beasley Institute who leads the DPO Coalition’s “Disabled People Led Monitoring” work.

The Donald Beasley Institute’s (DBI) Disabled Person-Led Monitoring research team is investigating disabled people’s experiences of supports and services in Aotearoa New Zealand. This is part of a broader effort to monitor the government’s progress in implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Disability Convention or UNCRPD) commissioned by the DPO Coalition.

In this phase of the project, disabled people and their family/whānau/close supporters are invited to participate in a questionnaire about supports and services.

Blind Citizens NZ will really appreciate it if you can take the time to complete the questionnaire.

The link to the questionnaire is below.

My Experiences, My Rights: Supports and Services Questionnaire (Donald Beasley Institute)

You can find more information about the project and the questionnaire in accessible languages and formats (Te Reo Māori, NZSL, Easy Read, Large Print, audio, and Braille on request) on the DBI website:

Disabled Person-Led Monitoring of the UNCRPD (Donald Beasley Institute)

If you know someone who does not use the internet, put them in touch with either Umi Asaka (email address below) or Blind Citizens NZ (admin@blindcitizensnz.org.nz) and arrangements will be made for them to complete the questionnaire.

Thank you for taking the time to read this email and we appreciate your support in this important mahi. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Umi Asaka (uasaka@donaldbeasley.org.nz). Umi Asaka is a Junior Research Fellow at DBI.

Ngā mihi
Rose Wilkinson
Chief Executive Blind Citizens NZ


Be My AI Beta Expansion is starting on August 14

Be My Eyes is a free app for receiving video support at a moment’s notice. Every day, sighted volunteers and professionals lend their eyes to solve tasks big and small to assist blind and low-vision people lead more independent lives.

Be My Eyes is developing an integration between their app and a new function – Be My AI. We appreciate your interest in this new capability and now we want to test our beta product by incorporating more beta testers. That’s why we are thrilled to announce that we will start expanding the beta test for Be My AI starting on August 14!

Those who have already signed up to the waitlist on iOS will start receiving invitations to join the beta test and become an active part in the development and improvement of this new feature. We will start with the earliest registrants and work our way forward, so those that have waited the longest will have the first chance to experience Be My AI. Beta testing for the Android version of Be My AI will start later this year.

The expansion of Be My AI beta test means that it will now be easier than ever for everyone to try this new feature. If you haven’t already, make sure to sign up to the waitlist in the Be My Eyes app to have an opportunity to test Be My AI before the official release later this year. Right now we’ll only be testing with users who use iOS. Access to the beta version of Be My AI through Android will be available later this year.

Sign up to the Be My Eyes app waitlist (be my eyes)

On behalf of the staff and management of Be My Eyes, we thank you for your participation in making our app and network even better.

If you have any questions, feel free to reply to this email or reach out to us at support@bemyeyes.com.

If you want to learn more about Be My Eyes the following links will take you to their website:

About Be My Eyes (be my eyes)

Link to blog post introducing Be My AI (be my eyes)


Office for Disability Issues Update

On 1 August 2023 the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) was fully integrated into Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People. The ODI team will be continuing their important mahi as part of the Policy, Strategy and Partnerships Group within Whaikaha, including partnering on the NZ Disability Strategy and Action Plan, interagency advice based on the UNCRPD, and advice for the Minister for Disability Issues.

The New Zealand Sign Language Board and the team supporting them is unchanged. A link to their Facebook page follows:

NZSL Board (Facebook)

We won’t be using ODI-branded channels anymore. Instead, we encourage you to start following Whaikaha channels to keep up to date:

This is the last newsletter we’ll be sending out using this format but you can still contact the team at the following email address.


There will be Whaikaha newsletters if you have subscribed.

Thank you for reading the ODI newsletter and we look forward to continuing to work with you!


Blindness and Mental Health Webinar

Friday, September 29 at 12:00PM ET. As we will have gone into daylight saving time the previous weekend, this will be 5:00am on Saturday, September 30 local time.

Please join us as we discuss mental health in the blind and low vision community. Expert presenters will discuss:

  • psychology and therapy for the blind community
  • medications and genomic testing
  • peer and community support resources
  • 988 Mental Health Hotline information.

This webinar will have captioning and a live ASL interpreter.

After registering, a Zoom link and call-in phone numbers will be sent to your email. If you did not receive it, we will be circulating it again to everyone who has already registered.

If you are unable to attend, please register to receive the recorded audio and video via email. Link to website for registration follows:

Zoom webinar registration



Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) Education Audio Described Performances

In 2023, RNZB Education is proud to extend its award-winning audio described performances across Aotearoa during The Ryman Healthcare Season of Hansel & Gretel!

These performances will give blind and vision impaired patrons the opportunity to attend a performance with a trained audio describer broadcasting commentary which patrons will hear through an earpiece.

Audio Described Public Performances:

  • Wellington – St James Theatre – Saturday 28 October, 1.30pm
  • Napier – Municipal Theatre – Saturday 4 November, 7.30pm
  • Palmerston North – Regent on Broadway – Friday 10 November, 7.30pm
  • Invercargill – Civic Theatre – Wednesday 15 November, 7.30pm
  • Dunedin – Regent Theatre – Saturday 18 November, 7.30pm
  • Christchurch – Isaac Theatre Royal – Saturday 25 November, 1.30pm
  • Auckland – Aotea Centre – Saturday 2 December, 1.30pm

Ticket prices are $28 for children and $48 for adults. Booking service fee of $2 per transaction.

Seats situated in the stalls. A free companion ticket is available if required and guide dogs are welcome.

Touch Tours will be held in Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland and Dunedin. Touch set pieces, feel costumes, handle key props and learn about the various ballet terms and the shapes and quality of the movements from the ballet.

To purchase tickets to public audio described performances please contact the RNZB Ticketing Team on 04 831 1056 or email subscribe@rnzb.org.nz

Box office hours are Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm.

Notice of RNZFB Board Meeting – Saturday 9 September in Auckland

In line with the constitution, those observing will be able to listen but not contribute to the meeting procedure.

For those members who wish to observe, please let the Board Secretary know by emailing boardsecretary@blindlowvision.org.nz or calling the Contact Centre on 0800 24 33 33.

A copy of the agenda, which will indicate approximate timings and details, will be sent closer to the time of the meeting.

Please note the cut-off date for any correspondence which members may wish to have raised at the upcoming meeting. Please ensure you have emailed the Board Secretary by latest 10 calendar days prior to the meeting to have your matter included in the agenda papers.

The dates of the 2023 RNZFB Board meetings can be found at the following link.

BLVNZ Governance (BLVNZ)

Minutes of previous meetings are available on the TIS menu 313 or available by request.


Diana Chandler
Board Secretary


Links to other newsletters

Retina International: 2023 Summer Bulletin

DPA Information Exchange: 14 August

Disability Connect Newsletter: 14 August

The D*List Delivered: 18 August

Please note, access to our weekly emails and other updates and news are also available on our website via our news and 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,
Amanda and Sarah


Event reminders

FIFA Women’s World Cup Audio Description

Details on accessing this were provided in the 23 July update.

23 July update

The match for third place will take place on 19 August at Brisbane Stadium, Australia. The final will take place on 20 August at Stadium Australia in Sydney.

Wednesday 30 August, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington – Audio Described Performance of Wicked – the Untold Story of the Witches of Oz. Details were provided in 23 June update.

23 June update

Early registration for In My Mind LGBTQIA+ Black and Peoples of Color Mental Health Hybrid Conference closes 31 August. Details were provided in 5 August update.

5 August update

Tim Bray Theatre Company Audio Described performances of Roald Dahl’s The Twits – PumpHouse Theatre, Takapuna on Tuesday 19 September and Saturday 7 October. 1pm show, 12pm touch tour and at Māngere Arts Centre, Māngere: Wednesday 18 October, 10:30am show, 9:30am touch tour. The show is 50-60 minutes long, designed for ages 5-10.

Details provided in 5 August update.

5 August update

19-20 October 2023, Tauranga Arts Festival – The Haka Party Incident Audio Described Performance atBaycourt Community and Arts Centre. Details and booking arrangements were provided in 19 June update.

19 June update

The Haka Party Incident Audio Described Performance Court Theatre Otautahi Christchurch. Show runs 25 October – 11 November 2023. Further details to come.

Election Access Fund – supports disabled people to be candidates in parliamentary general elections and by-elections, including helping candidates to complete an application. The 2023 General Election will be held on Saturday 14 October 2023. Nominations for candidates standing in this year’s General Election open on Monday 28 August and close at noon on Friday 15 September. More information and resources are available at the following website links:

Information about becoming a candidate in a General Election.

Information about the Election Access Fund and how to apply, including in alternate formats.

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


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 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

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