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NZ Herald Commended For Offering That Extra Touch



For Immediate Release

For the significant steps it has taken to provide blind and vision impaired New Zealanders with access to its newspaper, the New Zealand Herald is this year’s recipient of the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand’s Extra Touch Award.

Accessing the Herald’s audio news became a reality in March of this year for blind and vision impaired New Zealanders.

By working with the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind and utilising its telephone information system, the New Zealand Herald has been able to accomplish this momentous outcome. Registered members of the Foundation can access the audio news and select captions and stories by using the keypad of their telephone to make choices.

“Information is power and being able to read the Herald independently, and make my own choices is so invigorating and empowering” says Carolyn Weston, National President of the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand.

The audio news is heard by means of synthetic speech, affectionately referred to as “American Tom”. Although Maori pronunciation poses a challenge, the Foundation’s software developer hopes to resolve this anomaly in the near future.

The Foundation continues to work with the Herald to gain access to those parts of the Herald which cannot at this stage be made available electronically. Volunteer narrators are valued and will carry on reading those sections.

Mrs Weston said “steps taken by the New Zealand Herald to give those of us who are unable to read standard print, access to their newspaper is a prime example of what can be achieved. On behalf of the Association, I urge all other newspapers to commit to making their papers available to blind and vision impaired New Zealanders, just as the Herald has done. We congratulate the New Zealand Herald and the Foundation of the Blind for jointly making this possible.”

The Extra Touch Award was presented to Neil Sanderson, On Line Editor of the New Zealand Herald at the Association’s annual Conference Dinner, held at the Sharella Motor Inn in Wellington on 4 October.


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