I have been active in the leadership of New Zealand’s blind community for more than 30 years. Blind Citizens New Zealand has formed a central part of my identity. Leadership offices have included National President, Editor of Focus Magazine and stints as branch National Councillors/Representatives.
I am an Advisor in the Office for Disability Issues, based in Auckland. This work supports my rights-based approach to supporting disabled people to be the best we can be. The belief is that changing attitudes and removing barriers is a long-term objective, with no easy solution.
Previous employment has been within Work and Income and the Foundation of the Blind.
I have experienced gradually deteriorating hearing. I regard myself as a blind person who wants my hearing to be the best it can be. Mutual respect for others requires all of us to know that dual sensory loss comes to individuals in different ways. Our experiences and needs shape who we are and the decisions we each must make. I am fortunate that because of employment and knowledge, hearing aids have always been properly fitted and I get the best performance I can from them. High value is placed on access to braille. We all need our own toolkit of resources and solutions which help us stay in touch and enable participation.
Educating audiologists about what we should expect from our hearing technology is something of a crusade. Recently, I have begun helping other blind people with their hearing issues. This includes shaping the right conversations to have with audiologists. I now co-host virtual conferences for blind hearing aid users.
The work of DBANZ compliments my values. I have sharpened my interest in activities such as peer group support and systemic advocacy.
Internationally, there is a real need to develop strong relationships with governments, service providers, hearing aid manufacturers and audiologists so that our unique challenges are acknowledged. we must take part in research and development. I believe in an exciting future, where our hearing should be the best it can be. Technology is vital, because of its direct influence on how well we manage our lives and participate in the world around us.