Weekly update: 20 October 2023

Kia ora Tatou,

Hello to all of us,

I am delighted to let you know that Phil Thorn is hosting a gathering in Lower Hutt next weekend for those in the wider Wellington area. Thank you Phil for taking leadership on this! So far we have eight of us gathering from Wellington, Kapiti Coast, and Lower Hutt and of course I will be slithering in from Nelson. We have transport arranged for those of you who can make it to the train station to transport you out to Lower Hutt and local pick-ups for those of you in Wellington. This is an informal time to get to know each other a little better and to see what surfaces around what we can do going forwards through discussion. It is not a formal meeting. We will start with lunch at noon and be together until 2pm. If you would like to join us it would be great if you would let me know by late Tuesday next week. Please know there is no cost to you.

Lower Hutt Get-together details

  • Date: Saturday, 28 October
  • Time: Noon – 2pm
  • Venue: Laura Fergusson Trust, Naenae, Lower Hutt
  • Interpreter Requirements: Please advise
  • Transport Requirements: Please advise
  • Dietary Requirements: Please advise.


Audio Described Aotearoa

People are working really hard to make Arts and Culture accessible for us, in particular with respect to dual sensory impairment. We are now well into the Nelson Arts Festival and this evening I am going to Tusiata Avia’s unapologetic poetry collection with a Touch Tour to start. I am looking forward to an experience that expands my engagement in the world and my current thinking. Learning through touch and having my horizons expanded is really my thing! It helps my work, my friendships, and my sense of wellbeing.

Sarah, please pop Martine’s words in here.


Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) Board elections

A reminder that voting in this year’s elections closes at 4:00pm on Friday 3 November 2023. Please ensure you have cast your votes by this deadline.

Let’s choose what we want by using our voice to vote in the RNZFB Board elections.

If you haven’t already chosen how you would like to vote, I suggest you contact Blind Low Vision NZ on 0800 24 33 33. If you are not clear about all the names we have information about, remember Blind Low Vision NZ is a member-led organisation, governed by the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB). This means eligible voters can serve as governing members, elect the Board and help to guide the future direction of Blind Low Vision NZ.


Tinnitus and hearing loss: What’s the connection?

To prevent both, protect your hearing in loud environments. Contributed by Temma Ehrenfeld.

Thank you to former Board Member Don McKenzie for bringing this report from Healthy Hearing to our attention.

Up to 15 percent of adults experience tinnitus, which causes ringing in the ears. The sound may seem to come from inside your head, or from a distance, in one ear or both. It may be steady or pulsating, but only you can hear it.

Some people can tune out the distraction using habituation techniques or meditation, but tinnitus can become bothersome for about 2 percent of the population. Some people experience tinnitus occasionally, some nonstop. It can ebb and flow, and even spike.

Scientists aren’t sure what happens in our brain that causes these phantom sounds. But we do know that the problem is often linked to hearing loss and exposure to noise. In addition, different health disorders can produce tinnitus as a symptom, according to the American Tinnitus Association.

Another common trigger? Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear that causes dizziness, tinnitus and hearing loss.

Tinnitus and hearing loss

About 90 percent of people with tinnitus also have hearing loss, though many people may not even realize they have both conditions. Tinnitus usually follows the pattern of your loss. If you have high-frequency hearing loss, your tinnitus is often a high-pitched ringing or hissing. If you have hearing loss in one ear, you’ll usually only have tinnitus in that ear, and it will often go away if you get a hearing device in that ear.

Over-compensating for loss of noise

Why would a loss of sound perception cause phantom sounds? Let’s review how hearing works: A sound wave enters your ear and arrives at the middle and inner ear, the location of the cochlea, a fluid-filled area with hair cells. The hair cells turn the vibration in the fluid into electrical signals that reach the brain through your auditory nerve.

Infections, injury, noise or aging can damage the hair cells and cause hearing loss. When your brain gets less information from the cochlea, your auditory system may compensate by becoming more sensitive – the technical term is “raising the gain”, much like when you turn up the volume on a radio when the signal is low or nearly gone. This may be why some people with tinnitus are especially sensitive to loud noise.

If you have tinnitus, you may also have hearing loss-even if you haven’t realized it.

Protect your hearing to prevent tinnitus

The bottom line: Loud noise is dangerous, and can even damage your hearing while you sleep. Wear earplugs, earmuff-style noise blockers or even a custom-fitted device if you must spend time amid loud noise.

Lifestyle changes and smart choices about noise exposure can go a long way to prevent hearing loss.

Get a hearing test-and possibly hearing aids

A hearing test is important if you’re experiencing tinnitus. If you have tinnitus, you may also have hearing loss-even if you haven’t realized it. Get your hearing checked by finding a hearing specialist or audiologist that specializes in tinnitus. Please note that not all hearing clinics treat tinnitus, so you may need to browse several clinic pages to find the right provider.

How hearing aids help

Why is this important? Many people who have both hearing loss and tinnitus report that hearing aids for tinnitus are very helpful.

Noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus

Loud noises can damage hair cells in the cochlea and also the nerve that carries information to the brain, known as noise-induced hearing loss.

Musicians are disproportionately affected by tinnitus, even though they often keep the problem hidden.

Sometimes the sounds will appear after noise exposure when you’re young, go away, and return later in life as you age and a hidden vulnerability appears.

Both hearing loss and tinnitus are common among veterans

Tinnitus is more common after the age of 60 but can happen at any age. It is a common complaint among U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, sometimes traced to a traumatic brain injury, but also to battlefield and workplace noise.

Note: Tinnitus that pulses like a heartbeat could indicate a serious health issue and should be investigated by a doctor.

Temma Ehrenfeld

Temma Ehrenfeld is an award-winning journalist who covers psychology and health. Her work has appeared in major newspapers, magazines and websites. You can find more of her writing at her Psychology Today blog, Open Gently.


Blind Low Vision NZ advertising for next Chief Executive

Advertising starts today and closes on Sunday 12th November for the next Chief Executive of BLVNZ. A link to the advertisement follows.

BLVNZ CEO job advertisement (SEEK)



Penrose, Auckland: Disability Connect – Relationships are Essential for Everyone

Thursday 26th October 2023, 7 – 9 pm in-person.

This free workshop discusses sexuality, sex education and relationships.

It is designed to provide parents and family / whanau with ways to better understand the need for knowledge and practical strategies for family members with intellectual disabilities.

This teaching needs to start early. We look at the areas of body awareness, private and public and relationships. We introduce techniques for teaching your young person how to navigate the world and stay safe.

Being informed keeps those we care for safe, and they also know how to act respectfully towards others. Please register by email:


The Mid-Term Regional General Assembly (MRGA) of the Asia Pacific Region of the World Blind Union

27 to 29 November 2023 in Thailand.

Registration for both in person or via online are still open.

To check out the programme, go to the following link.

Asia Pacific region programme (World Blind Union)

You also can register as an observer by selecting the “Delegate” option in the form below.

Registration form (World Blind Union)

Or you can request a word document be sent via the following email:


This is a great opportunity to learn/hear more about the WBU and the work in our region.

Information on how to watch the opening will also be posted on the website at the following link.

Countdown and information on how to watch (World Blind Union)

Events message from Martine-Abel Williamson

Kia ora koutou NZ VIEW and Deafblind Association New Zealand colleagues,

I’m Martine Abel-Williamson, contracted by Audio Described Aotearoa, to enhance audience development so those who are blind, have low vision, are deafblind, and their families, can enjoy audio described performances, and Victoria Bassil is our Administrator.

Find 2 items attached: a listing of events in Tauranga and one with details for the rest of NZ up to end of December.

Please distribute these to your members and let me and Victoria know if you find that transport and/or ticket price is a barrier and we will try to see if we can subsidise some tickets for people. Most of the shows already have a free companion and discounted tickets.

We’re very keen to grow audience numbers for audio described performances, which means we’re thankful for the usual patrons, but we’re hoping to showcase these opportunities to more people.

If any of you organise group meetings where I’d be able to connect online, that’ll be much appreciated, especially if people might have questions about audio description.

Nga mihi,

Links to word documents (please note, details of these events have been advised previously and are also included in our event reminders).

Audio described shows by region October to December (DOCX 17 KB)

Audio described performances in Tauranga October (DOCX 482 KB)


Links to other newsletters

Disabled Persons Assembly

DPA Information Exchange: 16 October 2023

The D*List

We have previously included a link to “The D*List” newsletter in our weekly update, but it has since been set up so that you need to subscribe directly. Another option is to go directly to the website and find the articles of interest to you, sorted into people, opinion, lifestyle and news. This week we bring you something a little different as “The Spinoff”, a daily online newsletter, has recently published an article on The D*List. This includes a link at the bottom for subscribing to The D*List. So if you want to know more about The D*List before you decide whether or not to subscribe then check out the following link to The Spinoff article.

An invite to The D*List, the new home of disability culture in Aotearoa (The Spinoff)

Or following is a link to have a browse of The D*List website.

The D*List website

Also from The D*List, a link follows to an article on the power of Deaf-only spaces which highlights the power of providing spaces to meet specific needs.

Five lessons Aotearoa can learn from the World Federation of the Deaf Congress (The D*List)

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,


Event reminders

Call for expressions of interest: Board Member of Deafblind Association of New Zealand Charitable Trust

Please send a curriculum vitae and covering letter stating what you could bring to a position on the Board on Deafblind Association of New Zealand Charitable Trust and how you would like to grow into this role, by Thursday 30 November. We can support your format for putting forward an expression of interest and ongoing participation in the Board. Details were provided in 6 October update.

6 October update


A description of UPU was provided in the 13 October update as the power of Māori and Pasifika literature comes roaring to theatrical life.

13 October update

Upcoming shows are:

  • Tauranga – UPU – Wednesday 25 October 6.30pm (Tour Tour 5.30pm), Addison Theatre – Baycourt Community Arts Centre, 6.30pm. Bookings: Phone or SMS 021 225 4560, or email access@taurangafestival.co.nz
  • Napier/Hastings – UPU – Saturday 28 October 7pm (Touch Tour 6pm), Opera House, Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events CentreTickets from $25. A complimentary companion ticket is available when booking.

To book: Phone Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre box office on 06 877 9600, or email accessibility@toitoivenues.co.nz

Nelson Arts Festival, 19 – 29 Oct 2023

Nelson Arts Festival are offering three audio described events / experiences and one pre-recorded audio described tour within the festival this year. Details were provided in 15 September update.

15 September update

For more information:

Tauranga Arts Festival 19 – 29 October 2023

Tauranga Arts Festival website

The Haka Party Incident audio described performance 2pm and touch tour.

Christchurch Saturday 28 October – Court Theatre.

Please contact the Box Office on 03 963 0870 directly to book. Details were provided in 29 September update.

29 September update

Auckland – Sunday 5 November, Parnell Festival of Roses Contact Nicola Owen audiodescribedaotearoa@gmail.com for details and bookings.

More information on the festival of roses

Nationwide October – December Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB) Audio Described Performances of Hansel and Gretel

  • 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.

Details were provided in 1 September update.

1 September update

RNZFB Annual Meeting

Saturday 11 November in Christchurch

Wednesday 11 January at 5pm – Closing date for Oppenheim Tertiary Education Trust Fund

This financial fund is available to assist Blind Low Vision NZ clients who are enrolled in Tertiary education and in their second year or above. Students of any age and both full and partial clients can apply online via the Blind Low Vision NZ website at the following link.

Support grants (Blind Low Vision NZ)

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

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.


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

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