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New Zealand ’s first deaf MP leads the way

Media release
12 December 2011
New Zealand ’s first deaf MP leads the way for others with disabilities

The Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) is delighted to congratulate Mojo Mathers on her new role as a Member of Parliament, and hopes that she will open the political doors for others with a disability.

“As the country’s first profoundly deaf MP, Ms Mathers is a fantastic example of what someone can achieve regardless of the challenges they face,” says RNZFB Chief Executive Sandra Budd.

“We believe it is only a matter of time before New Zealand has a blind or partially sighted person as a Parliamentary representative.”

Ms Budd says that, like those with hearing loss, blind and partially sighted people are adept at using technology to their advantage, particularly in the workplace.

“From computer screen reading software to braille note-takers, there is a huge range of equipment to assist blind and partially sighted people in all kinds of employment.”

“Equally the RNZFB helps to produce a vast number of documents for individuals and organisations in accessible formats, such as braille, audio, large print, e-text and accessible websites.”

According to RNZFB Executive Director of Access, Innovation and Enterprise , Neil Jarvis – who himself is blind – more needs to be done to facilitate access for the blind and partially sighted population.

“We are absolutely supportive of Ms Mathers in her goal to build cross party support around ensuring everyone can participate equally in the political process.”

About the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB):
• 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.
• We equip our members with the adaptive skills, technology and resources they need to overcome the barriers they face to participating fully in society and leading independent lives.
• Less than one-third of the RNZFB’s operating budget comes from Government sources , so we must fundraise $17million per year.
• According to the World Blind Union, only 5% of printed material worldwide is available in formats that blind and partially sighted people can read.

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