Youth MPs on the steps of parliament

Imagine a world where all websites and applications are accessible.

That was the vision that our future leaders discussed during the 2016 Youth Parliament.

121 Youth MPs from around the country attended Youth Parliament in Wellington on July 20 and July 21.

The event is an opportunity for young New Zealanders to learn first-hand about New Zealand’s democracy and to influence decision making.

As part of the experience Youth MPs debated a mock bill on Accessible Web Pages and Apps. The mock bill is aimed at improving website and app accessibility for people with print disabilities in New Zealand.

The bill received overwhelming support from the youth MPs and was passed.

Among those promoting the bill was 16-year-old Blind Foundation client Britnee Tapara from Lower Hutt who was paired with National list MP Chris Bishop.

Britnee made a powerful speech on the bill which many described as being the highlight of the two day event.

“I have never let my vision defeat me. I like to think of it as playing the game of life on hard mode,” Britnee told

In the lead up to the event, Blind Foundation staff briefed youth MPs on the importance of online accessibility.

Blind Foundation client and former Youth MP Ezekiel Robson also met with the officials from the Department of Internal Affairs and Ministry of Youth Development to support the initiative.

Dianne Rogers, Policy Manager at the Blind Foundation, says it was fantastic to see how enthusiastic the youth MPs were about accessibility.

“Thanks to their support the future of accessibility in New Zealand is really looking bright,” she says.

Over the coming months the Blind Foundation will be carrying out a survey to find out what New Zealand organisations are doing to make their web pages and mobile apps accessible.

Photo of Julie Woods reading a braille recipe

Another winter warmer recipe from That Blind Woman, Julie Woods.

Not long after my younger son was born, a neighbour knocked on the front door with a plate of these cheese scones! They were delicious and I instantly had to ask her for the recipe, quickly transcribed it into braille and I’ve been making them ever since! That son, is about to celebrate his 21st birthday in a months’ time. Perhaps we should put these on the party menu!


  • 1 cup flour.
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder.
  • 25 grams cold grated butter.
  • 75 grams grated cheese.
  • Milk to mix.


  • Sift baking powder and flour.
  • Add grated cheese and butter.
  • Add milk to mix.
  • Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  • Bake for 20 minutes at 200 C.

Tips: If you don’t have tasty cheese in the fridge, use regular mild or edam and add one tablespoon parmesan. (I keep a parmesan shaker in the fridge for exactly these situations)

  • If you’re worried about grating your fingers try and source a plastic grater! I got one a while ago from the dollar shop here in Dunedin. It is the best grater I’ve ever had!
  • Don’t worry about over cooking these scones! The crunchier the better! Your nose will tell you when they are done!
Group photo at horse riding school

It was a cold, wet and windy June morning when Blind Foundation clients, staff and volunteers travelled to Heathcote Riding School in Christchurch.

The morning was about getting introduced to etiquette around horses and how to groom them. Once the horses and riders were ready then it was the fun part riding. Then a well earned coffee and lunch was held at Upshot Heathcote Roastery.

Blind Foundation Recreation and Community Advisor, Erin Eyles says she is pleased that everyone got on a horse.

“Some thought they’d just observe and assist with grooming. Some were horse folk from way back. We even had those that had never been on a horse before. It was fantastic; everyone had a go at riding. There was plenty of smiles, laughs, and lots of muddy boots.”

Photo of Lisa Watson on her horse, Star
Photo of Lisa Watson on her horse, Star

Lisa Watson was nervous to begin with but says she had good fun riding for the first time.

“The idea of riding was nerve wracking but in the end I am glad I went. Most of us were nervous, so I didn’t feel alone. We were encouraging of each other which made it a really good atmosphere. I highly recommend others give it a go as well.”

Photo of Peter Boock on his horse, Peppin
Photo of Peter Boock on his horse, Peppin

Before losing his sight, Peter Boock had been on a few horse treks and was surprised to find that it wasn’t what he expected.

“I thought it would be straight forward but when I hopped on I realised I couldn’t see what I used to. It was quite the challenge to adapt and I definitely enjoyed it. Doing the Blind Foundation Outward Bound course this year made me realise I wasn’t doing as much as I thought. It sure has given me the courage to be more adventurous; blindness is only a hurdle not a barrier.”

“It was wonderful to see what everyone got out of the day; seeing them all enjoy themselves.”

The Blind Foundation thanks Heathcote Riding School staff and volunteers who made this fabulous winter event happen.

Photo of Hannah Josephson at the 2016 Tough Guy and Gal Challenge with her two guides

Having low vision didn’t stop Hannah Josephson from competing in the 2016 Tough Guy and Gal Challenge against 2000 Aucklanders.

It was a frosty morning on 2 July when Hannah took on the grueling course at Woodhill Sands Equestrian Centre.

The course included climbing nets, crawling under barb wire and crossing swamps, all through plenty of mud!

This wasn’t Hannah’s first time competing, she’s completed the 6 kilometre challenge before.

“I wanted to push myself and do something people don’t expect a blind or low vision person to do. I enjoyed it last year and decided to do it again. It was a lot of fun, especially tackling the different obstacles” she says.

Hannah, a regular gym goer, found the training fit with her routine. She attends the weekly activ8 class at the Blind Foundation gym in Parnell. The class builds on strength and cardiovascular fitness. This training helped her build strength in her upper body and legs for the race.

Hannah can’t wait to take on the Tough Guy and Gal Challenge again next year. She would recommend others join her.

“It’s a fun day out, full of great challenges. If you’re up to it, give it a go and see how far you can push yourself!”

Group photo of 2015 Youth SEED participants

This year’s Youth SEED program will once again focus on young people stepping up into leadership. Including self-awareness associated with emotional intelligence, and will spotlight empathy, negotiation, public speaking, communication, work ethic, influencing people and relationships.

Who can attend?

The programme is open to clients who are between the ages of 17 and 25 who are interested in developing their leadership skills in their communities and would like to become involved in a community project.
You must be:

  • Be willing to take up opportunities to practically apply your learning.
  • You will need to be available to attend SEED Leadership sessions in Auckland for three full days and you will also need to be available to participate in a project following the SEED workshop.
  • Have good adaptive daily living and orientation and mobility skills.

What will you gain from the programme?

  • Practical skills to work effectively within, and for, your group or community.
  • Working collaboratively.
  • Influencing change.
  • Peer support.
  • Community leadership.
  • Giving and receiving feedback.
  • Effective problem solving.

These attributes align with the Blind Foundation vision of ‘enabling people who are blind or who have low vision to be self-reliant and live the life they choose.’

This will be a residential workshop and there will be a mixture of classroom and outdoor activities.

Participants in the programme will be expected to take part in developing a community project to reach other young people in the blind community. This will be an integral part of the programme and they will be supported by coaches.

When and where?

The three day programme will be run in Auckland from Monday 3 October to Wednesday 5 October.

Travel and accommodation subsidies are provided.

Interested? Know someone who is?

For further information and an application form please contact Heather McGill on 03 375 4327 or email or contact Latesha Sharp on 09 281 6503 or email

Applications close 22 August 2016.

NB: Contact Latesha Sharp for information between 23 July to 15 August.

Image of the Blind Foundation logo

The second round of the 2016 Engagement Roadshow is coming to a town near you! You are invited to be part of this annual event and have your say.

It’s an opportunity to talk to Board Chair Rick Hoskin, Board Directors, Chief Executive Sandra Budd and members of the Executive about how things are going for you. It’s also a chance for them to discuss what’s working well and what we can improve.

Earlier in the year we held Roadshow meetings in the South Island and lower North Island. We will be holding the remainder of North Island meetings in September and October.

Please note the Roadshows will start at the times listed. We welcome people to join us for a hot drink and a bite to eat either before or after the meeting. For details please check the timetable below.

We look forward to meeting you again soon.

Please RSVP at least five working days before the roadshow date by filling out the form below or emailing or phoning Jessica Salamonsz  on 09 355 6891.

Date Location Venue Time
Friday 16 September Auckland North Orewa Catholic Church Hall, 180 Centreway Rd, Orewa 10am – 12pm – light lunch to follow.
Saturday 17 September Auckland Central Awhina House, 4 Maunsell Road, Parnell, Auckland 10am – 12pm – light lunch to follow.
Saturday 17 September Youth meeting Awhina House, 4 Maunsell Road, Parnell, Auckland 1pm – 3pm – light lunch from 12:30pm.
Wednesday 21 September Gisborne Blind Foundation office, 37-39 Grey Street, Gisborne 1pm – 3pm – light lunch from 12:30pm.
Thursday 22 September Napier Greenmeadows East Community Hall, 83 Tait Drive, Greenmeadows, Napier 1pm – 3pm – light lunch from 12:30pm.
Tuesday 11 October Hamilton Celebrating Age Centre, 30 Victoria St, Hamilton 1pm – 3pm – light lunch from 12:30pm.
Wednesday 12 October Tauranga Historic Village, 17th Ave West, Tauranga 10am – 12pm -light lunch to follow.
Thursday 13 October Rotorua Parksyde Community Centre, 7 – 9 Tarewa Place, Rotorua 10am – 12pm -light lunch to follow.
Friday 14 October Taupo St Pauls Union Church, Cnr Tamamutu St and Rifle Range Road, Taupo. 10am – 12pm – light lunch to follow.
Wednesday 19 October Palmerston North Hancock Community House, 77 – 85 King Street, Palmerston North 1pm – 3pm – light lunch from 12:30pm.
Wednesday 20 October New Plymouth Blind Foundation office, 129/131 Vivian St, New Plymouth 10am – 12pm – light lunch to follow.
Wednesday 26 October Auckland South Guide Dog Centre, 30 Mcvilly Rd, Manurewa, Auckland 10am – 12pm – light lunch to follow.
Wednesday 26 October Auckland West Glen Eden Library, 12-32 Glendale Rd, Glen Eden East, Auckland 2pm – 4pm with afternoon tea to follow
Wednesday 27 October Whangarei RSA, 7-9 Rust Avenue, Whangarei 1pm – 3 pm – light lunch from 12.30pm.

Enagagement Roadshow Registration Form

  • Name * Required
  • Please select the Roadshow you wish to attend: * Required
  • Do you have any dietary or access requirements?
Helen Beeb holding a photo of her familty

At 94, Helen receives services from the Blind Foundation and has also sponsored a talking book in loving memory of her family.

“I am the only living member of my family and wanted them to be remembered with a talking book.  I didn’t want to sponsor a love story but I love a good thriller. Listening to talking books is my favourite pass time.”

Helen donated the book ‘Five minutes alone’, a thriller by Paul Cleave for everyone using Talking Books to be able to read.

“I started a degree in literature when I was 60 and it took me 10 years to complete part time.”

“After that I joined the Blind Foundation and it is has meant that I have been able to continue my passion for reading by means of Talking Books.”

Helen says, “The Blind Foundation does such a fine job by caring for people with seeing problems.”


Photo of group at spin class

New spin classes are taking place each week at Anytime Fitness in Christchurch for Blind Foundation clients.

This new initiative came from one of our wonderful volunteers, and spin instructor, Andy Beale. Andy and the local gym have worked together to run and provide space and equipment.

Spin classes are a perfect option for people who are blind or have low vision. Spinning allows riders to obtain the benefits of cycling safely indoors without the dangers of outdoor riding. It’s also a great way to keep fit for the summer tandem biking.

Through verbal ques and instructions, participants can make the most of the work out which is set to energising music.

Many of the participants hadn’t been to a spin class before, now that it’s accessible, there’s been a good uptake.

A big thank you goes out to Andy and Anytime Fitness. The gym has been very supportive and welcoming (guide dogs included), providing space and bikes free of charge.