Weekly update: 26 August 2023

Kia ora tatou,

Hello to all of us,

By golly writing reports to our Annual General Meeting for this Sunday gives me time to reflect on the richness of our mahi in the last year. We would like to share this with you so if you have not already made arrangements to be with us in person we do hope you will let Sarah know if you wish to join online by emailing boardsecretary@deafblindassociation.nz for the Zoom link.

I promised to send you content from the Deafblind International Conference presentations each week. As yet the transcriptions are not up. There are Power Points however in order to get those to you we would need to pop them into a Word doc slide by slide. We will look next week at how we might get a more efficient way of getting this very nourishing information to you.


Lego releasing Braille versions of its toy bricks, available to public for first time ever

Thank you to Martine Abel-Williamson for bringing this article by Gabe Hauari from USA Today to our attention. We hope you enjoy playing with them Martine!

“Lego has released Braille versions of its famous toy bricks, marking the first time the product has been released to the general public.

“The Braille bricks are designed so that anyone who is curious about Braille “can have fun getting to know the braille system at home with their family members in a playful, inclusive way,” Lego said in a news release.

“The braille bricks are aimed at kids ages 6 and older, regardless of if they’re blind, partially-sighted or sighted, Lego said.

“The company said that up until now, Lego Braille Bricks have only been distributed free of charge to organizations specializing in the education of children with vision impairment.

““We were thrilled by the reception that Lego Braille Bricks received in educational settings,” said Rasmus Løgstrup, Lego group lead designer on Lego Braille Bricks, in the release.

“We’ve been inundated with thousands of requests to make them more widely available, so we just knew we had to make it happen,” he added.

“What comes in a Lego Braille Bricks set?

“A set of Braille bricks includes 287 bricks in five colors: white, yellow, green, red and blue.

“And if you’re wondering if the bricks will work with your other Legos, don’t worry. The bricks are fully compatible with other sets.

“The brick’s studs correspond to the numbers and letters in the Braille system, with the printed version of the symbol or letter shown beneath the studs, the news release said.

“Two baseplates to build your Legos on are also included in the set, which comes in a package detailed with braille embossing.

“When are Lego Braille Bricks available?

“Lego Braille Bricks are available in English and French starting Sept. 1, with pre-order starting Aug. 24.

“What languages will Lego Braille Bricks use?

“Lego plans to add additional languages next year, according to the news release.

““For blind and partially sighted children, and adults for that matter, it makes all the difference if they can share their journey of learning braille with the people they love the most,” said Martine Abel-Williamson, president of the World Blind Union, in the news release.

““For the blind community, braille is not just literacy, it’s our entry to independence and inclusion into this world, and to have Lego Braille Bricks made available for the wider public is a massive step forward to ensuring more children will want to learn braille in the first place,” she said.

Original press release: Lego releasing Braille versions of its toy bricks, available to public for first time ever (MSN)


Message from the Electoral Commission: 2023 General Election

The 2023 General Election will be held in October and we want every eligible New Zealander to enrol and vote.

Voting starts on Monday 2 October and finishes at 7pm on election day, Saturday 14 October.

Information about enrolling and voting is available in alternate formats, such as New Zealand Sign Language, audio, large print and Easy Read is available at the following links:

Enrolment information in alternate formats (Electoral Commission)

Voting information in alternate formats (Electoral Commission)

You can find more information via the following website link and phone number.

vote.nz (Electoral Commission)

Freephone 0800 36 76 56.

Enrol. Vote. Be Heard.



NZ Opera and Black Grace Dance Company (m) Orpheus – Audio Described Performances – Auckland and Wellington

NZ Opera and internationally acclaimed Pacific contemporary dance company Black Grace present a reimagining of Christoph Gluck’s eighteenth-century masterpiece Orpheus and Eurydice, led by director and choreographer Neil Ieremia (ONZM).

Featuring Samson Setu, Deborah Wai Kapohe and Madison Nonoa, (m) Orpheus tells a story of a man willing to risk everything for love but unable to find love in himself.

Set in a dislocated future, where Pacific ceremony and traditions are still honoured, Orpheus struggles to come to terms with the loss of his wife. The gods agree to let Orpheus rescue Eurydice from the underworld, but there is a catch.

Well-known composer and percussionist Gareth Farr has re-orchestrated the work, and the effect of using different instruments (some that didn’t even exist in Gluck’s day) changes the entire atmosphere of the piece.


  • Date: Sunday 10 September.
  • Time: Touch Tour from 12:30pm – 1:15pm, Performance Time: 2:30pm, Finish Time: 4:30pm (approximately).
  • Venue: ASB Waterfront Theatre, 138 Halsey Street, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland CBD.
  • Price: $50 – $117.50 and 1 complimentary companion ticket.


  • Date: Saturday 23 September.
  • Time: Touch Tour from 5:30pm – 6:15pm, Performance Time: 7:30pm, Finish Time: 9:30pm (approximately).
  • Venue: Wellington Opera House, 111-113 Manners Street.
  • Price: $50 – $117.50 and 1 complimentary companion ticket.

To book, please call our NZ Opera Box Office Manager, the lovely Julie Bird, on 0800 696 737


Vacancy – Secretariat to Disabled People’s Organisations (DPO) Coalition – Contract Position

The DPO Coalition has an exciting new opportunity available for an exceptional person to support us. The secretariat will provide a full range of administrative and executive support to the DPO Coalition and DPO Managers. This role will be challenging and rewarding. If you live outside Wellington travel will be required.

Person specification and position competencies:

  • demonstrated experience working in an environment in a similar role (experience may be in a voluntary or paid position);
  • effective written and communication skills;
  • an understanding of reasonable accommodation for disabled people;
  • proven ability to provide the range of administrative skills required including attention to detail, and a systematic and organised approach;
  • knowledge and proven ability in the use of the Microsoft suite of products;
  • able to work flexible hours (varies from week to week);
  • proven ability to work under pressure and manage workload;
  • intuitively welcoming and inclusive of diversity.

Full details are contained within the position description.

DPO Coalition secretariat position description (.DOCX 76 KB)

The DPO Coalition advocates and promotes respect for an understanding of human rights in New Zealand society.

We support equal employment opportunities and encourage disabled people to apply.

To express your interest in this role please, send your CV and covering letter to us-dpo@groups.io Your cover letter should describe how you are a good fit for this role.

Applications close noon, Monday 11 September 2023.

The DPO Coalition comprises Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand (Blind Citizens NZ), Balance Aotearoa, Deaf Aotearoa, Disabled Persons Assembly NZ (DPA), Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand, People First New Zealand


Links to other newsletters

DPA Information Exchange: 19 August

Disability Connect Newsletter: 14 August

The D*List Delivered: 25 August

Family Violence Sexual Violence Update: 23 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

Hapticonf 2023 4-5 September 2023

Hapticconf 2023: Conference on Social-Haptic Communication (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)

Registration for online attendance is free of charge. Register online before September 1st. Details were provided in 18 August update.

18 August update

The link to register via google forms follows.

Hapticconf 2023 registration (Google Docs)

Trans-Tasman Certificate of Proficiency in Unified English Braille Registration closing date: Friday, 1 September 2023. Week 1 begins Monday 2 October and Week 2 begins Monday 9 October. Details were provided in 18 August update.

18 August update

Opportunity to inform research about disabled people’s experiences of supports and services in Aotearoa New Zealand

Information about the Donald Beasley Institute’s (DBI) Disabled Person-Led Monitoring research team questionnaire is available at the following link.

Disabled Person-Led Monitoring of the UNCRPD (Donald Beasley Institute)

Details were provided in 18 August update.

18 August update

Blindness and Mental Health Webinar

Friday, September 29 at 12:00pm ET, which is 5:00am on Saturday, September 30 local time. Discussion on mental health in the blind and low vision community. Details were provided in 18 August update.

18 August update

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.

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

18 August update

RNZFB Next Board Meeting

Saturday 9 September in Auckland

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