Weekly update: 19 April 2024

Kia ora Tatou,

Hello to all of us,

Pacific Disability Forum

CEO, Setareki Seru Macanawai is resigning after being our Pacific Regional Champion on Disability since PDF’s inception. As part of the Pacific Disability Forum we have sent the following, “On a professional level Seta’s championing for the disability sector across the Blue Pacific, and in collaboration with the United Nations and many other influential bodies, is well documented.

The Deafblind Association NZ community and Board wish you the best Seta!

On a personal note, leadership is about inspiring and supporting others to be of their best, and I have been a recipient of that inspiration and pass it on to others under our Strategic Plan goals. Thank you Seta!”


News Accessibility

Sometimes I miss something on the news. We know we can access 24-hour news now however two things occur to me:

  • How much information do I need to filter out from an often intense soundscape while catching things I really want to be informed about?
  • When I get to it, is it truly accessible?

Thanks here to Mark, invaluable volunteer to us, for helping me filter so I can pass things on to you.

Article: RNZ National – Call for New Zealand to have minimum accessibility standards for news

Description: As the New Zealand news landscape undergoes a radical reshape, there are concerns that many Kiwis are already missing out.

Unlike other countries there is no requirement for New Zealand websites, including those with a news focus, to meet any accessibility standards.

Captioning and audio descriptions can make a huge difference to the hearing or visually impaired.

Access Matters Aotearoa has been campaigning for a complete redrafting of the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill – one that would include minimum enforceable standards to help address accessibility issues.

Kathryn is joined by policy lead Juliana Carvalho and Neil Jarvis, who’s worked as a digital accessibility consultant and believes the issue should be top of mind for policymakers.

Note: Neil Jarvis is a Deafblind Association NZ Advisory Board member. The interview time is 13:13 minutes.

Link to interview below.

Call for NZ to have minimum accessibility standards for news (RNZ)

Link to Access Matter Aotearoa below.

Access Matters Aotearoa

Group calls on goverment to withdraw Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill (RNZ)


Hearing Assistive Technology – Smoke Alarm Systems

I have self-referred for a suitable smoke alarm for when I sleep with my only hearing ear down and as I am unlikely to wake from my current smoke alarms. I understand there is a doorbell system attached to this, which is used by Emergency Services if we need to be woken because, for example, a neighbour’s property is on fire and we also need to evacuate. There’s quite a lot of detail here and it is very well worth the read if you think you need a system like this.

Have you had your regular smoke alarms tested recently? Fire and Emergency NZ (FENZ) will do this for you for free. Please do not be shy about this – you are worth it! be proactive. We want to share the process with you.

Hearing Assistive Technology which is abbreviated to HAT, is adaptive technology to support people with a hearing impairment. There are certain funding criteria that have to be met, such as the person must live alone or the person they live with cannot assist them in the event of an emergency. They must also not be able to hear the smoke alarm. There are other criteria, but these are the main two to take into consideration before making a referral.

A person can be referred to Your Way Kia Roha or Deaf Aotearoa NZ if the person is a sign language user.

For Deaf Aotearoa NZ the link is below.

Hauora (Deaf Aotearoa)

If you scroll to the bottom of the page there is a link to a referral form. Link to that form below.

General referral form – adults and seniors service (Deaf Aotearoa)

I would be interested to see how this form works for a person using a screen reader as there are a lot of videos translating the text to NZSL so it would be good to know if it is easy to navigate without vision. As an alternate, a person can email the address below.


There is also a free text number 8223. A person can self-refer or whānau or professionals can refer on their behalf.

For Your Way | Kia Roha, the link for their website is below.

Your Way | Kia Roha

On that page there is a drop-down menu at the top of the page called ‘Hearing’. Click on that and then choose the option ‘Make a Referral’. This takes you to the referral form. Again, this can be a self-referral or a whānau/professional referral.

It is important with either referral route that the dual sensory impairment is explained and the limitations that the person experiences. If possible, it is useful to state the heat source for the house and provide a floor plan of the house. This will speed up the referral process.

Both Kia Roha and Deaf Aotearoa NZ work with Fire and Emergency NZ but you cannot refer to them directly. Following is the link for the Fire and Emergency NZ HAT page, though they state that you have to contact an assessment agency such as Kia Roha.

Hearing assistive technology (Fire and Emergency New Zealand)

The assessment usually consists of 3 visits. One to do a floor plan and gather information. One to install the equipment and this is usually done with the fire service. And one follow-up visit to ensure that the equipment is working.

Once a person has the equipment, they will be unable to get further equipment unless there is a fault. If a person moves house, it is important that they take the equipment with them as they will not be funded again at a new house.

If a person is in a Kāinga Ora home, Kāinga Ora should take responsibility for the equipment. The tenancy manager should be contacted. This has proved to be a bit tricky as their standard adaptation is to provide flashing lights. However this is not appropriate for people with vision impairment. If a person is in an apartment, this has proved to be especially tricky as their flashing light system can be installed to link into the central system. The HAT equipment that is most suitable for clients with dual sensory impairment is a local solution and cannot be linked to the centralised apartment system. As an aside, this has sadly meant that some clients have had their property offer withdrawn because appropriate adaptations cannot be made. It is also a bit of a battle to get them to make any adaptations. The response to this request is often different from office to office.

No one is currently funded to do these assessments. This means that the wait list is getting longer and longer as the demand is getting higher. The Deafblind Coordinators at Blind Low Vision NZ can of course do the referral on the client’s behalf but cannot do the assessments. That’s important to note so don’t hesitate to let a Deafblind Coordinator know you need a referral.

Here is the email address once more for Blind Low Vision NZ, below.


And the Call Centre number is 0800 243 333.

Currently there is no text facility if that is your preferred format however do not hesitate to connect with your network to make it happen for you! Please know that Deafblind Association NZ is part of your network.

Email: info@deafblindassociation.nz.

Text: 027 245 0650.

Contacting a fire station

Your local fire station is a great place to go for advice on fire safety, help with installing smoke alarms, and guidance on getting a fire permit and lighting an open fire.

You can use our fire station locator to find contact details for any fire station in New Zealand.

Find a station below.

Find a station (Fire and Emergency New Zealand)

Please note that many fire stations are volunteer operated and are not staffed 24/7. Please don’t be offended if no one is available to answer your call.


Work and Study Opportunities

Technology Network PhD scholarship: Accessible AR/VR technologies for d/Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Users

Application Closing Date: 23:59 on Tuesday 30 April 2024 for a start date of 2 September 2024.

Project Description

Over the past few years, there has been significant growth and adoption of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) devices. These devices have been utilized for various purposes, such as training, education, and leisure activities; however, these applications have not been designed with accessibility in mind and have introduced several challenges for d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing users in using them. As one example, audio plays a significant role in current AR/VR applications, where it has been widely used for pinpointing target locations and navigating the environment. However, d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing users have issues noticing or identifying the audio resource for navigation. In addition, the current applications lack sensory substitution systems (e.g., visual prompts) to support their interaction with immersive technologies.

These challenges, however, can be easily addressed by employing a user-centred design approach with our target users and related stakeholders. This PhD project aims to:

  1. understand d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing users’ requirements for accessible AR/VR systems and co-design accessible features with them and related stakeholders
  2. conduct a set of experimental studies with d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing users to validate the designs
  3. provide insights into the design of accessible AR/VR experiences for d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing users.

The ultimate objective of the project is to produce an AR/VR plugin that contains several accessible features, developed based on d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing users’ needs, to help AR/VR designers and developers develop accessible AR/VR applications.

Person Specification

  • A background in Computer Science, Human Factors, Psychology or similar fields, with an excellent first degree.
  • Strong programming skills in Unity or Unreal Engine.
  • Good understanding in Human-Computer Interaction.
  • An interest in people.
  • Kindness.

PhD Classic Doctoral Training Grant Funding Information

This funding model includes a 36 month fully funded PhD Studentship, in-line with the Research Council values, which comprises a tax-free stipend paid monthly (2024/5 – £19,237) per year and a Full Time Fee Scholarship for up to 3 years, subject to you making satisfactory progression within your PhD.

Please contact the Project Lead, Dr Wenge Xu (email address below) if you would like to discuss this PhD scholarship or to arrange an informal meeting.


For more information about apply for this position, please find it below.

HearingXR: Accessible AR/VR for d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing users – PhD classic doctoral training grant funding information (Birmingham City School of Computing and Digital Technology)

Expressions of Interest for new Chief Executive of Pacific Disability Forum (PDF)

Greetings from the PDF Secretariat,

On behalf of the Board, the Secretariat would like to share with you the Expression of Interest (EOI) for the position of Chief Executive Officer of PDF.

The services of New Zealand based consultants; Amy Tea Consultancy has been enlisted to handle all HR related matters concerning the recruitment of the new CEO.

Job advertisement in word format (DOCX 55 KB)

To obtain a copy of the information pack, please email Jo Bell or Amy Tea at the following email address.


To apply, please email your cover letter and CV in MS Word format to the following email address.


Applications close Sunday 5 May 2024.

Please note this is a Suva-based role and PDF will assist with a work permit and costs, if relocation is required.


World Blind Union Survey

The online website and brand update survey closes today. Further information was provided in the 12 April update.

World Blind Union: Website and brand update survey

12 April update



Peer to Peer Support

No futher events this month – we’ll keep you posted on future events.


Other newsletters

DPA Information Exchange: 19 April 2024

Includes disability funding changes survey results, a petition to return greater choice and control and flexibility to disability funding and the Able Audio Podcast about disability and music technology.

Carers New Zealand: April Newsletter

Family Violence and Sexual Violence Update: April Newsletter

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’s issue features dark humour & comfortable silences with our disabled pals.

Full update at 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

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)

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.

Thursday 3 October Deafblind UK Online Conference 2024

Theme: “Standing out and fitting in”. The conference is free and all are welcome.



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.

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

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