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PVINZ deplore lack of government support for blind

Consumer blindness organisations deplore lack of government support for blind, deafblind and vision-impaired children's education

Eight consumer blindness organisations unanimously agreed at their last consumer consortium that the lack of government support for the education of blind, deafblind and vision-impaired children is seriously disadvantaging more than 1215 New Zealand children and their families.

Parents of Vision Impaired New Zealand (PVI) Chairperson, Lee Parlane says that the consortium is calling on the Government to urgently redress this imbalance.

She believes the funding announced in last week’s Budget for extra teaching positions could be allocated for this purpose.

"We have been patient for far too long."

"The New Zealand Disability Strategy calls on the government to provide the best education for disabled people and ensure that disabled students, families, teachers and other educators have equitable access to the resources available to meet their needs.

"In the case of blind, deafblind and vision-impaired children this is not happening."

Ms Parlane says that a prime example of the imbalance is the ratio of qualified teachers to blind students. In New Zealand, this ratio is one teacher to thirty-eight students compared to one teacher to twelve students in most developed countries.

"Our ratio is more than three times higher than the international standard, meaning our children are getting a 'third world' education."

Ms Parlane says that many parents are seriously questioning whether the government's neglect in addressing the lack of appropriate levels of funding is leaving them in breach of basic human rights.

"All parents want their children to achieve in education so that they can live fulfilling, independent lives."

"However, blind, deafblind and vision-impaired children and their families are not being given a choice with regards to the quality of their education - this makes their futures look very bleak indeed."

The Association of Blind Citizens have also recently highlighted the need for government support in blind children’s education, particularly in the area of braille literacy. The consortium comprises of the Parents of Vision Impaired New Zealand (PVI), Association of Blind Citizens (ABC NZ Inc), Blind Sport New Zealand, Deafblind NZ Inc, Guide Dogs Society NZ Inc, Ngati Kapo O Aotearoa, New Zealand Vision Impaired Empowering Women (NZVIEW), Retina New Zealand Inc and Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.

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