Category Archives: Our stories

Stevi with guide dog Halo

How Stevi regained her confidence

Black Labrador guide dog Halo and owner Stevi at the park
Stevi feels grateful to have a guide dog

19 year-old Stevi was born with a rare eye condition called Cone Dystrophy and Nystagmus. Short-sightedness, tunnel vision, light sensitivity and very unstable vision means she can’t see well outside at all.

Living in a very small community with no public transport left Stevi very reliant on other people. She felt very isolated, dependent on others and didn’t have much confidence. But teaming up with Halo, her beloved guide dog changed all that.

“I have grown a lot in confidence since having Halo because I have had too. I was quite shy before, but you can’t be shy with a guide dog because people come up to you all the time. Having a guide dog definitely gives me confidence” says Stevi.

Will you make sure New Zealanders like Stevi don’t miss out on confidence and independence? A donation today will make a real difference to guide dog puppies we train and, ultimately to New Zealanders living with blindness or sight loss.

“People don’t understand the impact that a guide dog can have. All I have to do is hold the harness handle and I know that I will be safe and I trust her. Having a guide dog gives me a sense of accomplishment because I am going to be able to do what others can do. There are no limits.”

Having Halo has given Stevi the motivation to finish school, University and confidently head towards an independent future.



Susan’s life is brighter with books

Susan holding her phone with the Booklink app
Susan loves listening to books

When Persistent Migrainous Aura (a rare form of migraine), started to affect Susan’s sight, she became extremely light sensitive.  

Meaning she can’t really go out and about much due to light exposure and therefore she stays at home a lot in a dark room to control her exposure to light.

As a self confessed book worm, she also felt like she was in a dark place by not being able to read anymore.  “Normally, I would curl up and go into a fantasy world and try to leave all the rubbish behind with a book. Suddenly I couldn’t do that anymore” says Susan.

Through Booklink and the Blind Foundation Library, Susan has been able to reclaim her passion for reading. She loves the fact you can download as many books as you want.

“I listen to books, everywhere I go – all the time. I can do tasks around the house, I can curl up with a book just like I used to, I can even listen while travelling”

Booklink and the Blind Foundation Library simply would not be possible without the great support of our donors and supporters.  With demand growing all the time we always appreciate any donation you’re able to make.

For young women like Susan, getting immersed in a good book makes a massive difference to her life. It’s a great escape and also gives her the opportunity to connect socially with her book worm friends again.

Jacqui baking in the kitchen

Jacqui’s life of independence is full of new adventures

Jacqui sitting on a bench playing her autoharp
Jacqui’s attitude is truly inspiring

Jacqui is a positive and confident mother-of-three who loves challenges and adventures. With your support, Jacqui’s life is full of new adventures.

With three hungry sons living at home, aged 20, 17, and 14, it’s just as well Jacqui enjoys cooking and baking. She also enjoys busking with her autoharp which she started doing 3 or 4 years ago.

Jacqui was just 10 years old when she started to lose her sight due to a brain tumour. She now has peripheral vision, she can see movement, colour and shapes.

Thanks to generous support from donors, the Blind Foundation provide many services that help Jacqui and many New Zealanders live independently and confidently.

“Your donations enable people who are blind or have low vision to be to live an independent and confident life.”

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With help from the Blind Foundation Jacqui learnt braille, found employment and has been paired with her amazing guide dog Paris. Through the Blind Foundation Jacqui learnt to play the autoharp. Now years later she still plays and has even started writing songs and enjoys busking.

Jacqui’s attitude is truly inspiring, and you can feel extremely proud to have played a positive role in her life. “Don’t let your vision be an obstacle to achieving your goals. There are always people out there who are keen to help.”

Thanks to the generosity of Kiwis like you, we currently reach one in three New Zealanders who are blind or have low vision. Of course, we’d love to reach more. So if you can, please give what you can to make a difference to many New Zealanders living with blindness or vision loss.




Chantelle sitting on the steps with guide dog Darbi

Chantelle was born with under-developed optic nerves in both eyes. Although she can see some things when objects are very close, detail is very limited when they are further away.

As you’d imagine, this made life a constant challenge. But everything took a turn for the better when she was paired with her first guide dog. “My first guide dog gave me the confidence to try things I never thought possible,” Chantelle explains. “Together we explored the city and different modes of transport, and I gained a whole new level of independence as my social circle increased.”

More recently, Chantelle was matched with her third guide dog, Darbi. “Without her I wouldn’t have the varied lifestyle I have now, working full-time and living an independent life.”

“Being able to go anywhere I like, no matter how new or challenging, with the knowledge that Darbi will help me get there confidently and safely is reassuring.”

Labrador guide dog Darbi looking proud
Chantelle’s guide dog Darbi helps her lead an independent life


As valuable as guide dogs are for people who are blind or have low vision, they’re not a solution for everything. Over time, the Blind Foundation has assisted Chantelle in many areas of her life. Our specialist Adaptive Daily Living instructors have provided her with life skills that most of us take for granted. Things like washing clothes, cleaning around the home, or cooking – one of Chantelle’s favourite pastimes.

“I have a real passion for cooking,” says Chantelle. “I love to entertain friends and family, and serve them delicious, wholesome food. I use talking scales, talking timers, and measuring cups that are easy to tell apart by touch, and I have braille labels on my herbs and spices.”

The Foundation’s Orientation & Mobility services have given Chantelle the ability to safely travel about her community.

“Earlier on, the Blind Foundation taught me white cane skills which helped me navigate my school and neighbourhood.”

This later extended to public transport, which paved the way for Chantelle’s next big step in life when she decided she was ready to join the workforce. The Blind Foundation played an important role here too.

“It was through the Foundation’s employment service that I was made aware of their Adaptive Technology course,” says Chantelle. “This opened up a new world of opportunities as I learned valuable computer and technology skills, which gave me a recognised qualification and quickly led to an employment opportunity.”

As Chantelle will tell you, the Blind Foundation’s extensive support has enabled her to lead a confident and independent life. Of course, Chantelle is just one of many hundreds of blind and low vision people that we help every day. With your kind support, we can do so much more. Will you help us?