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Disaster planning info designed for blind

7 February 2011

Disaster planning info designed for blind

Civil Defence Minister John Carter has today launched an interactive, electronic resource designed to give potentially life-saving advice on emergency planning to the blind and partially sighted.

“The Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind has collaborated with the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management to produce this valuable resource,” Mr Carter said.

There are more than 11,500 blind and partially sighted members of the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.

Information is provided using specialised voice and key pad command systems already used by people who are blind and partially sighted including Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) CD readers, e-text and electronic Braille readers.

“As recent events in New Zealand and Australia have shown, a natural disaster is a traumatic time for everyone. It is vital that all New Zealanders have access to potentially life-saving information on how to be ready for, and also what to do to respond to a disaster event,” Mr Carter said.

“Public education is an essential component of disaster risk reduction, readiness, response and recovery. The best way to get through an emergency event is to be prepared, and I can’t stress that enough.

“One of the things I quickly became aware of in the hours after last year’s Canterbury earthquake was the constant need for information and updates. I realised how important it is to be able to talk to all members of the community and to have information available in formats that suit different needs. Last year Civil Defence developed a similar resource for the deaf and hearing impaired.

“This resource encourages those who are blind or partially sighted to plan ahead for their specific requirements in an emergency. It focuses on developing an emergency plan with friends, family and neighbours.

“The message is simple. All individuals and communities have a responsibility to look after themselves and their loved ones for at least three days, possibly more, until help can get to them.”


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