Weekly update: 29 September 2023

Kia ora Tatou,

Hello to all of us,

I start with something this week that says it so much more clearly than I do. Kevin sent this through to us so thank you Kevin. It is so succinct and yet says everything!

“I want to leave you one of my favourite quotes about disability from Haben Girma, the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law:

“Disability is never a barrier. Design is.

Thank you.”

This is the sign-off from a blog by Rachele DiTullio, a senior accessibility engineer. Her blog is available at the following link.

Rachele DiTullio’s blog

Each week for a little while I promised to send through to you some of the work Kevin and I were privileged to be part of while in Ottawa in July. Some who are receiving this newsletter will be working with our vulnerable Tamariki and complex needs. It is heartening to know this work really does represent “no one left behind”. The research by Dr Susan Bruce, Boston College, Lynch School of Education and Human Development, 2021, investigated not only vision and hearing functional, progressive, and ideological impacts but also the first language of the family. Did you know there are around 209 first languages in Tāmaki Makaurau? I think this is relevant to every country in the world and for us particularly in Aotearoa New Zealand with our diverse communities that intersect with our diverse needs. Thanks to Aimee as she puts up the link on our website in the next day or so. Sarah has translated into a Word doc the questions that were asked. Once again there are some useful references for you. I imagine a world where communication is an open and freely exchanged nourishment of all our learning – a gift to societal well being.

Excusing myself from my desk now to vote in our General Election using Telephone Dictation Voting, as is my democratic right to a confidential vote. 😊


Self-determination in Prelinguistic Communicators who are Deafblind – Susan Bruce

Description: The purpose of this presentation is to extend the literature on self-determination to deafblind learners who are prelinguistic. This presentation introduces the eight components of self-determination, as proposed by Wood, Fowler, and Test (2005). It will then provide more in-depth information and strategies to support prelinguistic communicators who are deafblind to successfully demonstrate four of these components: self-awareness, self-regulation, choice-making, and self-advocacy. This presentation also draws attention to expressive vocabulary. The goal is to enter the scholarly conversation on self-determination and to start to generate research and practices relevant to individuals who are deafblind, across the age span.

Self-Determination in Prelinguistic Communicators who are Deafblind – slide deck (PDF 401 KB)


Waka Kotahi’s E-scooter renewal decision

On Thursday 28 September the E-Scooters (Declaration Not to be Motor Vehicles) Notice declaration was formally announced for a further five years.

Blind Citizens NZ has issued a media release advising “Blind pedestrians push back on renewed E-Scooters ‘Declaration’”. A link to the media release as a word document follows.

Media Release – Blind Citizens NZ: Blind pedestrians push back on renewed E-Scooters ‘Declaration’ (DOCX 182 KB)


Article on using iOA 17

Board member Don McKenzie sent this through. His description advises “this article by Scott Davert, a deafblind tech wizard, might be useful to a local readership. Quite long and techie but here it is if folk want it.” The link follows:

What’s New in iOS 17 Accessibility For Blind and Deaf-Blind Users (AppleVis)



Notice of next RNZFB Board Meeting

The next Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday 18 October. This meeting is scheduled to be held via Zoom from 6:00-9:00pm. In line with our 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 (Diana Chandler) 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.

The cut-off date for any correspondence which members may wish to have raised at the upcoming meeting is 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 on the BLVNZ website. Minutes of these meetings are available on the TIS menu 313 or available by request.

Court Theatre Audio Described Performance – The Haka Party Incident

The Haka Party Incident resurrects the eventful day when a group of University of Auckland engineering students rehearsing their annual tradition of a mock haka are confronted by the activist group, He Taua. The incident sent ripples through the nation and changed race relations in New Zealand forever. Contains coarse language.

When: Saturday 28th October

Location: The Court Theatre’s auditorium, Bernard Street

Time: 2pm

Touch Tour: Approx one hour before the show. Time to be advised.

Running Time: 2 hours including 20-minute interval

Cost: $49 or $34 with a Community Services or Hāpai Access Card Essential companions can attend free of charge

Booking: Please contact the Box Office on 03 963 0870 directly to book.

What is Audio Description?

In our audio described performances blind and visually impaired audience members attend a touch tour before the performance. This is an opportunity to touch the set, props and costumes and to get an idea of the scale and visual components of the production. The audience members then listen to introductory notes, which give more detail on the design elements and themes of the show. During the performance, the audience members listen to live audio descriptions on headsets, which complement the dialogue with details of visual storytelling to ensure blind and visually impaired audience members are able to fully engage in the production.


Links to other newsletters

World Blind Union Global Newsletter

Global Outlook: WBU’s Newsletter

International Council on English Braille (ICEB)

Issue 16 September 2023 is available in two formats via the following links:

Word document (DOCX 2 MB)

Structured PDF (PDF 433 KB)

A Braille-ready file is also available – please let us know if you would like it sent via email as this file type is not supported by this newsletter format.

Family Violence and Sexual Violence Update: September issue (MSD)

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

Oppenheim Tertiary Education Trust Fund

Applications for those studying in 2024 opened on 18 September 2023. The closing date is Wednesday 11 January at 5pm. 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)

Monday 2 October 2023 – closing date for Te Pou Disability Consumer leadership development grant

All applications are made through the grants portal, which is accessed via the following website link.

Te Pou grants portal

For more information please contact the grants team by emailing grants@tepou.co.nz.

2023 General Election

Voting starts on Monday 2 October and finishes at 7pm on election day, Saturday 14 October. Information about enrolling in alternate formats is available through our website via the following link.

2023 general election

19 – 29 Oct 2023 Nelson Arts Festival

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. For more information:

Text/call: 027 241 4599.

Email: access@nelsonartsfestival.nz.

Website: Nelson Arts Festival.

15 September update

Tauranga Arts Festival 19 -29 October 2023

A link to a word document with information from Audio Described Aotearoa follows.

Tauranga Arts Festival Audio Description (DOCX 482 KB)

Tauranga Arts Festival website

Tim Bray Theatre Company Audio Described performances of Roald Dahl’s The Twits

PumpHouse Theatre, Takapuna on 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

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

  • 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

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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