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Blind People Launch New Era in Disability Advocacy

Blind People Launch New Era in Disability Rights Advocacy

The Association of Blind Citizens celebrates with invited guests today, the establishment of its National Advocate’s position. Vaughan Dodd, National President said "the Association's aim is to become New Zealand's pre-eminent authority on systemic advocacy issues of relevance to blind people".

The Association conducted an extensive recruitment process, which resulted in Daniel Frye emigrating from the United States to assume the new position. Mr Frye is excited at the opportunity presented to him and says “I am privileged to be able to join with the blind community of New Zealand to help advance our agenda for social and political change”.

Mr. Dodd says "the Association has always been a successful advocacy organisation, counting amongst recent achievements the transformation of the governance of the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind, retention of the Free Articles for the Blind Postal Service, and the exposure of representatives of the banking industry to talking automatic teller machines. The Association’s challenge is to respond promptly to the growing number of complex issues affecting opportunities for blind people to participate in society”, Mr Dodd said. Mr Frye added that for him, the challenge is to “build substantive relationships with individuals both in and out of government who will be useful in assisting the Association to achieve its goals”.

Formed in 1945, the Association is New Zealand's oldest and largest organisation of disabled people, with 16 branches throughout the country. Local initiatives emphasise such matters as pedestrian safety, improvements to public transport services and peer support. Nationally driven policy analysis through the advocate's position will support the grass roots responses to local issues. Mr Dodd said that "the Association represents blind people speaking for ourselves and this new, full time position builds directly on the need for our voice to be heard, and our perspectives understood. The Association is now in a very strong position and we look forward to constructive and ongoing dialogue with Government and others in order that the objectives of the New Zealand Disability Strategy are realised".

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