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Santa’s gift for blind and partially sighted kids

7 December 2011

Santa’s gift for blind and partially sighted kids

Santa Claus’ elves have been busy learning a special skill this Christmas – how to write letters to children in braille and large print!

The Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) has worked alongside a special team of elves who work at New Zealand Post to ensure the needs of blind and partially sighted children are catered for in the annual Santa Letters for 2011.

With just 5% of printed material worldwide is available in formats that blind and partially sighted people can read*, RNZFB Braille Awareness Consultant, Lisette Wesseling, says this is the first time blind and partially sighted Kiwi kids will be able to read a Santa Letter for themselves.

“For these children, being able to receive a letter from Santa in a format they can read will make this Christmas really special. And all without relying on too much help from others – it’s very empowering,” Lisette says.

Santa aims to personally respond to all New Zealand kids who contact him. In fact Claudia Howett, aged 10, has already received her letter in braille.

“I’ve asked Santa for a puppy and a cell phone, but I am mostly looking forward to spending the day with my little cousins!”

Claudia’s mum, Charlotte Crampsie, says the new initiative is fantastic: “Claudia was definitely impressed that the Santa Letters are now available in braille. She especially loved the detailed description of the picture”.

If you would like to write to Santa and receive a letter from the magical man himself, fill in the form on the New Zealand Post website at www.nzpost.co.nz/christmas.

You can request your letter in braille or large print, but you’ll need to do this by Wednesday 14 December so that Santa’s elves have time to send all the letters!

About the letters:

• The Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind has provided advice on the production of the large print letters, and will be producing the braille letters on behalf of Santa’s elves who work at New Zealand Post.

• The braille and large print letters contain the same text as the standard print letter.

• The large print letter is in 18 point font, and includes an enhanced version of the picture.

• Braille letters are in single-spaced, contracted Unified English Braille, and will be accompanied by a printed version to help parents read with their children. They include a verbalisation of the picture.

• The deadline for requesting a Santa Letter is Wednesday 14 December.

About the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind:

• The RNZFB is New Zealand’s main provider of sight loss services to blind and partially sighted people.

• We have more than 11,500 blind and partially sighted members nationwide and each year nearly 1,100 New Zealanders who have become blind or experienced serious sight loss register as RNZFB members.

• Only one-third of our operating budget comes from Government sources, so our members rely on public support for the rest.

*According to the World Blind Union

ENDS

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