Image shows two stick figures talking to each other

We are in the process of rolling out a pilot Blind Foundation Peer Mentoring Programme in the Christchurch area.

We would like to invite Blind Foundation clients to apply to become a Peer Mentor.

The purpose of the Peer Mentoring programme is for those who have a lived experience of low vision or blindness to share their experiences and skills with others. Mentors and mentees would meet on a regular basis and work together on goals set by the mentee. Mentoring relationships could be focused on any number of areas relating to personal growth and development. From accepting the need to use a cane, negotiating the work place or hosting a dinner party.

As a Blind Foundation client do you….

  • Have skills and experience that you would like to share with others?
  • Consider yourself to be someone who is motivated, empathetic and self-aware?
  • Enjoy getting the best out of other people?
  • Have time to commit to training and supervision?

We would like to hear from you

Mentors will be selected through an application process, training programme and matching process. Further information and an application form will be sent to those who register their interest with Heather McGill by emailing or phone 03 375 4327 by Monday 30 May 2016.

norah our pupstar

We’re all head over heels in love with bright and beautiful Norah and we’re very excited to announce that she’s our super special Pupstar for the year – the lucky pup chosen to represent all the hardworking guide dog puppies in training.

Norah arrived into the world very early on a sunny summer morning in January. She was one of 29 happy, healthy little guide dog puppies born at the guide dog centre this summer and she passed her health checks with flying colours.

When she was really small, energetic Norah loved nibbling on yummy ice blocks. That was her first lesson – learning to share nicely with her siblings and now she even shares her favourite blue teddy bear!

Norah’s a cuddly, loving puppy and she’s now settled happily into her puppy walker’s home. We’ll keep you posted on her milestone achievements as she grows and develops. Thank you so much for your kind and generous support. It’s with your help that little Norah and all her fellow guide dog puppies in training have every opportunity to become confident guide dogs, changing many people’s lives.

Joe Taka on the flying fox at the Rotary Camp

In March, a group of Blind Foundation youth clients went to the annual Remuera Rotary Club Camp at the YMCA Camp Adair.

Camp goers enjoyed three days of recreation activities supported by their student camp buddies from Dilworth School, Kings College and Diocesan School for Girls.

The campers enjoyed various outdoor recreational activities including a super flying fox, archery, camp cooking, kayaking, confidence course and mudslide.

For 19 year old Joe Taka, it was his fourth time going to the camp.

“The camp was fun and enjoyable. It was excellent” says Joe. He says his favourite activities were the mudslide, camp cooking and the flying fox.

To end the camp on a high note there was a concert night which unveiled some tremendous talent. The concert was a highlight that left everyone with goosebumps, after some breathtaking performances.

The Blind Foundation support staff say they are blown away by the challenges overcome and achievements made by the participants every year.

“The support and encouragement that the student buddies gave to our campers was first class. Without this they wouldn’t have got as much from the camp as they did” says Jon Scott, Recreational Advisor.

The Blind Foundation thanks the Remuera Rotary Club, YMCA Camp Adair Instructors, student camp buddies, Blind Foundation staff, Chris Tearoe and the Nikau hostel staff from BLENNZ, and Danny Boeglin, who was the MC volunteer for the concert night.

Everyone worked extremely hard at encouraging and ensuring that all the activities were enjoyed by all.

Keep up to date with upcoming camps and other events on the Blind Foundation website.

Lance and guide dog Yogi using BookLink

Lance Girling-Butcher has always loved reading, but it became a challenge when he lost his sight nine years ago. The launch of the Blind Foundation BookLink app last year has been a breakthrough that allows him to continue reading.

The app gives readers access to the Blind Foundation digital library. It has over 11,000 audio books to choose from, and more than 70 New Zealand national and regional newspapers.

Lance says BookLink puts people who are blind or have low vision on a level playing field with a sighted person.

“BookLink gives me the independence of choosing my own book with a click of a button. I no longer have to go through the library to request a book to be made in my preferred format, then waiting for it to arrive.

“I’m impressed with this app it’s so easy to use, it’s a brilliant breakthrough. The search function helps me find any book I am looking for. I find it easy to navigate through, it operates in a logical way.”

Lance uses the app several times a week to read books, and his local newspapers. Based in New Plymouth he keeps up to date by listening to the Taranaki daily news and the Mid-week News.

With magazines soon becoming available, Lance expects it will be a popular addition.

“I’ll definitely be listening myself. I’d be interested in the Listener magazine and keeping up to date with topical events and business stories.

“I recommend BookLink to anyone with the capability of using a computer, or Apple device. It’s a great opportunity a keen reader shouldn’t miss out on.”

Download on the Apple App Store

Roger in his garden

Since losing his sight 20 years ago, Roger Kan has found new ways to continue working around his Dunedin garden.

Roger uses his sense of touch and smell to get around and to identify different plants. He says there is nothing more enjoyable than pottering around in his garden with only the sound of the birds and the scent of flowers on a warm evening.

“I’ve always been in the fruit and vegetable game. Growing up I was interested in gardening, so I am familiar with all the different shapes and smells of the plants and that’s how I identify them.”

Setting up his garden to cater to his blindness was a learning process. Roger says he sticks to the ordinary garden tools, and a few odd things he’s made. For example he found a new purpose for some old pipes, which he uses as markers in his garden.

“We can train ourselves to do in the dark all the things sighted people do. Nothing’s impossible, if you’re positive you can make things happen” he says.

Download Roger’s top gardening tips for keen gardeners (.doc, 500kb)

Marcel in the studio

Meet Marcel Oats, Audio Magazine Producer from Auckland.

Marcel works in our Auckland studio to record and do post-production work on audio magazines and books.

He works with our narrators to record about 25 magazines each week. Some titles include the National Business Review, Time Magazine, Woman’s Weekly and the Listener.

Two narrators come in each day to record the material, which can take up to three hours. During the recording he makes sure it is read correctly to ensure the narration is flawless. He will point out things such as mispronunciations and coughs and have the narrator correct it.

Once a recording is complete, he will carry out the post-production process. This involves editing the sound and converting the files to MP3 so they can be burnt onto CDs and sent to our clients.

Currently, Marcel is working on a project to transfer audio books from tape to the DAISY (Digital Accessible Information SYstem) format.

“Essentially this is transferring these audio books from analogue to a digital format, so that we can continue to distribute these books without having to re-record them” he says.

Being born blind, he is glad to be part of the process in making material accessible to people who are blind or have low vision.

“Having a person narrate makes such a difference compared to a synthetic voice. The flow is more natural and makes the content that much more interesting for the listener.

“I enjoy working here, I’ve been here for 27 years and there is always something different going on. A few years ago, I got to record the Blind Foundation Board candidates. It was exciting to be involved in this and I got to use other skills I don’t usually use, such as audio mixing and assembling a full presentation.”

Marcel has always been interested in audio and often spends his spare time collecting interesting sounds.

“I like to record unusual things, for example industrial machinery and things people might take for granted, such as the new inverter-driven refrigeration compressors.”

He is also into his technology and enjoys experimenting with different software and music. He keeps himself up to date by reading information on all the latest gadgets.

Auckland Transport (AT) logo

Total Mobility Scheme (TM scheme)

The TM scheme is a national scheme that assists people with impairments to enhance their community participation by accessing appropriate transport.

This assistance is provided to eligible registered individuals in the form of subsidised door-to-door transport services wherever Total Mobility (TM) transport providers (usually taxis) operate.

The Total Mobility Card (TM photo ID card) can be used in Christchurch and Wellington, but each area has a different process (manual process in Christchurch and Wellington). Aucklanders using their cards in these locations need to inform the driver at the start of journey (not the end). Aucklanders travelling in other cities or locations of NZ can get vouchers from AT.

To check your eligibility for the TM scheme, to register, and for more information please visit the AT website.

SuperGold update

Public transport concession is switching to AT HOP.

If you use a SuperGold card to travel free on buses, trains and ferries there will be a change on the cards from 1 July 2016.

You will need an AT HOP card, loaded with a SuperGold public transport concession, to continue to travel free during off-peak periods – that’s after 9am weekdays, all day  weekends and on public holidays.

If you are eligible for both an Accessible concession under the Total Mobility Scheme and a SuperGold concession, you’ll need to choose which one you want to load onto your AT HOP card.

This will depend if you usually travel off-peak, or if you need to be able to travel on public transport at any time of the day. If you want to keep using your Accessible concession you won’t have to do anything, just keep using your Total Mobility Card and AT HOP card loaded with your Accessible concession as you do now.

Terms of use and registered prospectus for the AT HOP cards are available on the AT website.

a lady using her ipad with headphones

This morning the Government announced that the Marrakesh Treaty is one step closer to being ratified in New Zealand.

The Marrakesh Treaty aims to make it much easier for people to access, distribute and share a wider variety of copyrighted works in accessible formats.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith made special mention of the 653 people who responded to the Blind Foundation’s Marrakesh Treaty survey earlier this year.

The Blind Foundation would like to thank everyone who took the time to have their say on this important topic.

This feedback will help shape the next phase of work which is the preparation of a National Interest Analysis to be presented to the House for examination.

We look forward to updating you on the progress of the Treaty later in the year.

You can read the full press release on the beehive website.

Participants make their way to Tiritiri Maitangi Island

Last Saturday a group of Blind Foundation clients, support people and staff went on a long awaited trip to TiriTiri Maitangi Island.

Rich in history and beautiful wildlife, the group explored the island on a guided walking tour for the senses. Everyone got to touch and smell the native plants and hear the amazing birdsong, while learning about the different birds on the island. Some of the birds they came across included, North Island saddleback, tui, kereru, hihi (stitchbird), bellbirds, kokako and North Island robin.

Group photo of participants walking around Tiritiri Maitangi Island

As well as the wonderful wildlife, the group explored a 150-year-old lighthouse (the oldest functioning in NZ), the visitor centre and beaches.

“Everyone had such a fantastic time that it was a hard walk back to the ferry. Fortunately it was full of birdlife again including a cheeky North Island robin that hopped along the path with us for a while.

“We are very pleased with the turnout. There were some challenging parts with lots of stairs and narrow boardwalks but our fantastic support people did a great job of helping navigate through them” says Deb Nash, North Island Regional Leader.

A big thank you to the support people and the wonderful volunteer guides from TiriTiri Island. The guides did a fantastic job with their descriptions of the birds and plants.

For Blind Foundation clients interested in going 360 Discovery offer, a 50% discount off the fare on presentation of your RNZFB membership card and support people are free. Please note only one support person per client is permitted for free.

Photo of BookLink user

Access the Blind Foundation’s digital library with the BookLink app, now available from the App Store.

There are over 11,000 audio books to chose from and more than 70 New Zealand national and regional newspapers.

The app has been designed for Apple devices, including iPhones (4S and later), later-model iPads and the latest iPod Touch.

All new clients should download BookLink from the App Store. To use the app you will need a login. If you are new to downloading the library’s books, please call us on  0800 24 33 33 or email to register.

If you are using an existing version of BookLink please follow the steps below:

  • Finish reading any downloaded books. Please note existing content will be deleted when you install the new version.
  • Delete the existing app from your device (v1.3.0 or older).
  • Download the latest version of the app from the App Store.

Download on the App Store