Weekly update: 24 November 2023

Kia ora Tatou,

Hello to all of us,

Firstly I will apologise for not sending you an email last Friday. I was away at the Kāpō Māori 40th Celebration and Conference in Queenstown. While my luggage travelled with me, my JAWS Screen Reading Software packed his bags and went somewhere else!

The Conference was wonderful, with great guest speakers and a really rich environment for relationship building and our own Peer to Peer Network building. I spoke to Lance who told me what a difference Crossover have made to him and suggested I might like to investigate for myself. I love the conversations that bring me learning too!


Christchurch Deafblind Network

I connected with Andrea Lamont from Christchurch and she is keen to lead a group for deafblind there, starting February 2024. If you are interested in going along please do let me know by return of email and I will sort out all the appropriate contact details – it’s easy!

Hamilton and Palmerston North – I have some interest from a few people and would also be happy to help you get an initial gathering together, something informal perhaps, before the Christmas Break. Once again, please do let me know.

Following the Deafblind Professional Development Hui in Christchurch the previous week, it was once again a wonderful opportunity for relationship building. At that hui, I was thrilled to hear Patrick Pink and Saul Taylor say there are now Sensory centres being established around the motu where sight and hearing professionals work on the same premises, e.g. Gisborne, so it is easier to share mahi about our deafblind, with all permissions sought of course. Personally I will encourage this as much as we can. If you know other places where this is happening for adults as well please let us know.

I also attended the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind Annual General Meeting while in Christchurch. Congratulations go to Gene Gibson, recipient of the Chair’s Award, for his commitment to improving accessibility and the development of the Accessibility Central website. If you haven’t been there yet, the website link is below.


Congratulations also go to Martine Able-Williamson, Donna McCaskill, and Chris Orr for Board positions. We acknowledge the skills also of the unsuccessful candidates, especially from our deafblind community and hope you try again! 😊



Accessible Pharmacy Blind Health Virtual Expo

The second annual virtual event is being held Friday, December 1 – 10:00AM to 4:00PM ET, which is 4:00AM to 10:00AM NZDT.

The Expo is described as the largest virtual event of healthcare information, products, services, and medication for individuals in the blind, low vision, and disability communities.

Attendees will be able to:

  • browse virtual exhibit booths
  • learn about services and products in the healthcare and disability communities
  • network with organizations and companies across the country.

More information and registration is available at the following website.

Expo – Attendee Information (Accessible Pharmacy)

For Aucklanders – Sunday 3 December Disability community picnic + film screening

A message from Áine Kelly Costello, with thanks to Blind Citizens New Zealand for sharing.

Kia ora koutou,

I’m organising the below, weather permitting, all welcome.

3 December is International Day of Persons with disabilities. A good excuse to hang out together, share kai and make a new friend or three! Nau mai haere mai, disabled people, whānau and friends all welcome. Gathering at 12:30, Western Springs Lakeside Park, 859 Great North Road.

For those who want to, we can then go see the film “Into the Spotlight” starting 2:30.

Visit google docs or Facebook for more information at the following links.

EDisability community picnic event information (Google Docs)

Disability community picnic event information (Facebook)

Any questions or suggestions write to Áine Kelly-Costello ainekc@gmail.com.

Sight Tech Global – 25 sessions free and online

Thank you to Thomas Bryan for sharing the following information from Ned Desmond, Sight Tech Global Executive Producer:

Note: hyperlinks have been removed from the original email text and are summarised at the end.

Please trust me when I say that this is the best Sight Tech Global yet. It’s free, online, Dec. 6-7 and you should really register today.

Why is this the best? You can check out the two-day agenda for yourself, but the short answer is we are at an insanely exciting, historic moment: huge advances in AI are enabling dramatic improvements in accessibility for the blind and visually impaired.

Just think – be My Eyes just rolled out a new version of its app powered entirely by AI – not human volunteers. Super intelligent AI assistants are in the wings. AI is enabling driverless taxis, computer vision that can answer questions about the visual world, and much more. And there’s a potential dark side to all of this that we will talk about too.

Plus, this year, after the main stage session, many of the speakers will be available for live AMAs with our audience, a rare opportunity indeed.

So please register today. We promise you will be glad you did. The event is free and online – no cost, no travel. Just enjoy the 15 main stage sessions and 10 AMA breakouts!

We would like to thank Sight Tech Global’s sponsors, whose support sustains the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a 75 year-old 501 (c)(3) non-profit that helps the blind and visually impaired in the San Francisco Bay Area embrace life to the fullest through evaluation, counseling, education and training.

Sight Tech is a Vista Center production and an all-volunteer effort. We are very grateful to sponsors META, Salesforce, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Waymo, iSenpai, be My Eyes, Envision and Foundation Fighting Blindness.

Links to information follow.

About Sight Tech Global

2023 Agenda

Registration (Google Forms)

About Vista Center

Auckland – Carols for Rescare Tuesday 19 December

Invitation from Kathryn Stevenson:

Hi All,

Some of you may have seen this message in another email, sorry for the repetition.

I’ve been asked to sing/play instruments carols at a residential facility for adults with intellectual disabilities (where some of my clients live).

I’ve done this the past few years and I bring along anyone else who is available and would like to participate.

It involves turning up at Rescare (7 Rebecca rise Weymouth, Auckland) around 3pm on Tuesday 19 December to sing / play some well-known carols and Christmas songs for the residents there.

Let me know if you are available and would like to join us. I know it’s a hectic time of year so no worries if you are not able to.

If you send us an email at info@deafblindassociation.nz then we’ll pass the message on.

World Premiere! Touch Compass AIGA – Auckland Arts Festival March 2024

A Groundbreaking performance, ‘AIGA’ is a powerful not-to-be-missed discovery of identity, connection and desire.

What is AIGA?

AIGA (the Samoan word for family / whanau) is a World Premiere of a new Touch Compass ground-breaking Disability-led, Pasifika-led work of theatre exploring personal identity, life’s struggles and triumphs, family and desire. Three years in the making, embracing and honouring ‘crip time’ and ‘crip s p a c e’ as an innovative model for powerful and meaningful arts development. Acknowledging and exploring different lived realities, this work of theatre, movement and music, AIGA takes an honest look at what it means to a disabled, Pasifika, Māori, woman, non-binary and person in Aotearoa.

AIGA is inspired by the real life journey of Lusi Faiva, her quest to find belonging and her own AIGA. Developing this work, our cast and crew alike, shared their own unique experiences, resulting in a tapestry of stories woven together with Lusi at the centre. As the work was devised, each cast member was given the time and space the time to uncover the stories they hold in their heart, the stories we usually keep ourselves from finding.

“I wanted to create AIGA with a simple idea that would bring a sense of discovery to our identities: to explore the real meaning of accessibility to us all, to deepen our sense of belonging. Discovering our unique essence, the essence of our surroundings and the stories we tell, and share them – in our own words. Our voices, our thoughts and feelings – the most important and powerful.”

– Lusi Faiva

A radically different development process

The development process put inclusion at the heart of decision making; tailored uniquely to performers’ access and cultural needs, allowing for a collaborative environment that gives everyone space to think, review and reflect, to work together. This process allows artists to navigate the development of the work under an access-led ethos. This has allowed our performers to find new ways of working that honour the mana, and creative work of Pasifika and disabled artists.

The creation process of Aiga was made up of multiple and frequent creation workshops, to support the physical demands, scheduling and timing needs, as well as the emotional work and labour that makes such a powerful piece of storytelling.

“I’m learning a lot about myself in this space because I have always worked before in a fast-paced place where time is limited. This process gives me a real chance to create in a slow-paced, crip time way.” – Lusi Faiva

AIGA is a 75-minute work that seeks to break down the barriers of “us vs them”. It unearths the challenges and victories present in all of us as we navigate our place in the world, and discover connections with the people in our lives. AIGA will proudly premiere during Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki Auckland Arts Festival from 20-24 March 2024 at Te Pou Theatre!

Link to website for ticket for booking information below.

AIGA – tickets


Links to other newsletters

Disabled Person’s Assembly (DPA) Information Exchange: 16 November 2023

This week’s issue includes a chat with Disability Rights Commissioner Prudence Walker.

Following is a link to have a browse of The D*List website or sign up to receive their weekly newsletter.

The D*List

Disability Connect: 20 November Newsletter

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,


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.

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

Auckland – Aotea Centre – Saturday 2 December, 1.30pm

Link to word document with description and booking information follows.

RNZB Hansel and Gretel (DOCX 14 KB)

Auckland Tuesday 5 and Saturday 16 December, audio described performances of The Santa Claus Show ’23 by Tim Bray, with songs by Christine White.

Book online or call The PumpHouse at 09 489 8360 or visit the theatre box office. Details were provided in 3 November update.

3 November update

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