19 July 2024

‘There is life after sight loss’ with help from Blind Low Vision NZ

Every day, an average of six New Zealanders turn to Blind Low Vision NZ for support with sight loss.

Some are struggling to come to terms with their vision loss and are looking for emotional support; many want to find ways to remain self-reliant, to stay in work and get around independently. But all have one thing in common – they want to find ways of doing the things that are important to them.

Blind Low Vision NZ’s support can range from teaching people how to make a cup of tea or cook safely, connecting like-minded individuals through community groups, and helping set up special software or technology to assist people in studying and employment.

Low vision
Blind Low Vision NZ helps remove barriers for life to continue

All across New Zealand, from Cape Reinga to Bluff, they meet with people in their homes or at their local Blind Low Vision NZ office to find solutions together.

Maintaining independence is important – so Blind Low Vision NZ support people to get around safely using a white cane, public transport or a guide dog, prepare meals, use technology, stay in employment, or connect with others. No goal is too big or too small and the services they offer are vast.

Blind Low Vision NZ advocate for accessible and inclusive communities because they believe people with sight loss should be able to get around public spaces like any other member of the community, access the same information, and pursue the career of their dreams without unnecessary barriers.

Age-related eye conditions in New Zealand are rising as our population ages and so they also want New Zealand to do better at taking eye health seriously.

The good news is, now more than ever, the opportunities are here to make a real difference to people with sight loss by helping to remove barriers and educate New Zealand about how we can embrace an inclusive society, where everyone gets a fair go.

With Blind Low Vision NZ’s support, for example, Paul Hutcheson found ways to work with his vision loss. He was given the tools and skills to continue to live a full life.

After six years of studying, he proudly graduated with his Masters in Theology.

Paul received Blind Low Vision NZ’s help setting up adaptive technology to assist him with his studies. He had his desktop installed with zoom text, a desktop magnifier, a dup magnifier that changes the contrast and a screen reader.

Paul now aspires to help others in similar situations

Originally with a medical background in radiography, once Paul’s vision started to deteriorate his local paster suggested he study theology.

Paul has big goals and aspirations to use his degree and life experience supporting people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision.

Paul Hutcheson says “you’re never too old to learn new things.”

He is even training to become a telefriend volunteer at Blind Low Vision NZ. A telefriend is a peer support service for people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision, and their caregivers, whānau and friends.

“I want to be a role model and encourage others that there is life after sight loss.”

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