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Blind Low Vision NZ Street Appeal Needs Vital Online Support In Covid-19 Environment

When Sue Fraser learned she was going blind, fear crept into her soul. She was in a “pool of darkness”, feeling she’d lost the ability to do the things she loves but this Blind Low Vision Week, she’s celebrating proving herself wrong.

With a white cane by her side, Sue has the confidence to leave the house while adaptive technology allows her to cook dinner for her family and read books to her grandchildren.

“For so long struggling along but then I picked up the phone and called Blind Low Vision NZ – it was the best thing I ever did.

“With their help I was able to get outside again and enjoy the outdoors, while inside, they helped transform my kitchen so I can continue cooking as I have always loved. I have my independence back.”

Sue came to Blind Low Vision NZ for support after a long journey with degenerating sight. She’d contracted a virus on her eyes in her 20’s but a corneal transplant in her 40’s and then later cataract treatment were not enough to restore her sight.

She doesn’t think of herself as blind, and she didn’t realise that Blind Low Vision NZ (formerly the Blind Foundation) was also for people with low vision, like her.

She now knows how life-changing the charity can be for people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision.

This week is the launch of Blind Low Vision NZ’s annual Blind Low Vision Week appeal, which is a time to celebrate the 180,000 New Zealanders with vision loss living the life they choose. The fundraising goal is $470,000 and traditionally, a significant proportion of this would come from the street collection which is being held on 22-23 October.

However, this year, due to current alert levels, the street collection will not be going ahead in Auckland, Waikato or Northland. Blind Low Vision NZ takes everyone’s safety seriously and while it’s disappointing, it’s the right thing to do for those regions.

Now, with 950 volunteer coordinators and collectors unable to participate in the street collection, the hope is New Zealanders who cannot donate on the street will recognise they can make an online donation at

“We are extremely grateful to everyone who supports our Blind Low Vision Week through the street collection or online donations,” says Blind Low Vision NZ Chief Executive John Mulka.

“Every day, an average of six Kiwis turn to Blind Low Vision NZ for support with sight loss. In a COVID-19 environment, people may not be out as much, but we still rely on the community to make a tangible difference in the lives of blind, deafblind and low vision New Zealanders.”

Funds raised from Blind Low Vision Week go directly towards providing personalised vision rehabilitation services for people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision. Funds help each person fulfil their goals – whether that’s providing adaptive technology to assist with work readiness, mobility training including guide dogs, or developing tools and strategies to keep doing the things they need and want to do.

In Sue’s words, “my life was changed forever when I reached out for help from Blind Low Vision NZ”.

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