Weekly update: 11 August 2023

Kia ora tatou,

Hello to all of us,

Each week for a little while I will feature a short snippet or highlight from the recent Deafblind International (DbI) 18th World Conference in Ottawa. This optional session was one I really felt worth going to.


Acquired Deafblindness Network

For those of us with Acquired Deafblindness (sometimes referred to as adventitious), there can be feelings of loss. This international online network, facilitated by Dr Peter Simcock, is intended to connect for mutual support and information. It is free to join. I emailed Pete in the days following conference and this is what he replied, “I very much like the notion of kanohi ki te kanohi, being in the presence of. For me, whilst the presentations were interesting, inspiring and engaging, it was the connections, conversations, relationships and collegiality that were a highlight of the conference, and reminded me of the oft quoted words of Helen Keller: Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.

The online form for individual membership, which is free of charge, can be found at the following link.

Register individual membership (DbI)

Kevin and I have signed up. I’m looking forward to sharing common issues and understandings. I hope this spikes your interest!

Last night I went with John Billings, RNZFB Board Director and Teddy, Guide Dog in Training, to the NZ Opera and NZSO audio described Touch Tours and Performance of Bluebeard’s Castle. New Zealand Opera in collaboration with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra offered a touch tour and audio described performance of Béla Bartók’s trailblazing, psychologically penetrating opera Bluebeard’s Castle. Even if opera is not your thing, I highly recommend this immersive experience, remade for a modern context. I cried. Of course I cried!

Bartók’s first and only opera. This innovative and moving production of Bluebeard’s Castle from Theatre of Sound (UK), re-imagines the work as a love story between a long-married couple living with dementia. The director came to us during the Touch Tour and spoke to us of his desire to create an experience that formed a relationship between on-stage and audience, even in a venue as large as the Michael Fowler Centre and his passion to create intimacy. It was an honour to hear him in the casual atmosphere of the pre-show.

A free touch tour before the performance allowed us to explore some of the set pieces on stage, handle key props, and learn more about the bespoke percussion instruments NZSO musicians have built for this performance and where they were sourced in the world. I got to tinker with the xylophone and learn it is made of rosewood, feel the vibration of the drums, and really learn what making an instrument for that particular performance really means to the passionate people involved.

Frances Moore, Participation Manager of NZ Opera, in discussion immediately targeted and connected with deafblind accessibility needs for participation in arts and culture and invited connection for further engagement to be even richer. In summary, I absolutely knew I was talking to the right person.

Pascale is not just an email address (details below), she is a warm, passionate, and engaging person who connected with all of us as we entered the building and stayed with us until the end. She is interested in exploring a way for deafblind to be sitting in the orchestra, or something similar, at some point so we can experience the vibration of the music. Personally I just want to get my hands on the harp! Watch this space for how we move forward rich experience opportunities for deafblind!

Kevin Keys, Audio Described Aotearoa, did his usual highly skilled Audio Description that balanced description of performers movements in relation to each other, their movements through the orchestra itself, to props and lighting changes, while leaving room for the full orchestral finesse. This a one hour performance offering a fully immersive experience for me as a deafblind person!

There is still one more opportunity for this experience at Christchurch Town Hall on Saturday, 12 August.

Details are: 5:30pm touch tour, 7:30pm performance. Concert duration: one hour, no interval.


  • $35 Adults
  • $25 Child

No booking service fee required. Seats situated in the front stalls. A free companion ticket is available if required and guide dogs are welcome.

For more information or to register interest for the audio described performance and the touch tour, please contact NZSO Education & Community Engagement Senior Manager, Pascale Parenteau 027 293 8865, or email pascale.parenteau@nzso.co.nz

It is the Team Work that makes this Dream Work – thank you to all involved!


Links to other newsletters

DPA Information Exchange: 6 August

The D*List Delivered – 11 August

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

FIFA Women’s World Cup Audio Description

Details on accessing this were provided in the 23 July update.

23 July update

The quarter-finals are on 11 and 12 August split between the two hosts, with matches in Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau, Brisbane/Meeanjin, Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara and Stadium Australia in Sydney/Gadigal. Both New Zealand and Australia will also host one semi-final each at Eden Park on 15 August and Stadium Australia on 16 August, while the match for third place will take place on 19 August at Brisbane Stadium, Australia. The final will take place on 20 August at Stadium Australia in Sydney.

Sunday 13 August Matinee show, 4pm – Audio described We Will Rock you in Palmerston North

At the Regent on Broadway, with a touch tour prior to the show at 2.30pm. Book in person at the Regent on Broadway box office or over the phone at 06 350 2100. Details were provided in 23 July update.

23 July update

Sunday 27 August, Braille House, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington – Deafblind Association NZ Annual General Meeting and gathering. Please email Sarah boardsecretary@deafblindassociation.nz or call Amanda on 0800 450 650 if you are interested in attending.

Wednesday 30 August, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington – Audio Described Performance of Wicked – the Untold Story of the Witches of Oz. Details were provided in 23 June update.

23 June update

Early registration for In My Mind LGBTQIA+ Black and Peoples of Color Mental Health Hybrid Conference closes 31 August. Details were provided in 5 August update.

5 August update

Tim Bray Theatre Company Audio Described performances of Roald Dahl’s The Twits – PumpHouse Theatre, Takapuna on Tuesday 19 September and 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

19-20 October 2023, Tauranga Arts Festival – The Haka Party Incident Audio Described Performance atBaycourt Community and Arts Centre. Details and booking arrangements were provided in 19 June update.

19 June update

The Haka Party Incident Audio Described Performance Court Theatre Otautahi Christchurch. Show runs 25 October – 11 November 2023. Further details to come.

Election Access Fund – supports disabled people to be candidates in parliamentary general elections and by-elections, including helping candidates to complete an application. The 2023 General Election will be held on Saturday 14 October 2023. Nominations for candidates standing in this year’s General Election open on Monday 28 August and close at noon on Friday 15 September. More information and resources are available at the following website links:

Information about becoming a candidate in a General Election.

Information about the Election Access Fund and how to apply, including in alternate formats.

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


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 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