Blind Citizens NZ Submission on the Copyright (Marrakesh Treaty Implementation) Amendment Bill

Submitted: Sunday, February 10, 2019
Categories: Submissions, Uncategorized

Putting the Past Behind Us, by Geraldine Glanville

Submitted: Friday, December 18, 2015
Categories: Uncategorized

Putting the Past Behind Us

An account of governance reform within the Blind Foundation from 1995 to 2003

Compiled and edited from records of the time by Geraldine Glanville

Putting the Past Behind Us

An account of governance reform within the Blind Foundation from 1995 to 2003

Compiled and edited from records of the time by Geraldine Glanville

These were the years that saw the Foundation reform itself from a body governed by its own Act of Parliament to one that would come to recognise the rights of its members to self-determination by electing its board and determining its future direction. This account traces the history of this protracted and often acrimonious process that, were it not for the tenacity and resolve displayed by Blind Citizens NZ and its members, may have resulted in a totally different outcome.



Does your website shut the door in our face?

Submitted: Monday, April 7, 2014
Categories: Uncategorized

Blind Citizens NZ was honoured to have the Minister for Disability Issues, Hon Tariana Turia launch our brief “Does your website shut the door in our face?”, on 21 November 2013.

This briefing document is a supplement to “The Great Barrier Brief”. Funded by Internet NZ, it explains that “CAPTCHA is a process that attempts to determine whether the response received by a server has come from a human (who is obviously using a computer) or from a computer under the control of an automated (and presumably hostile) application.” Since in both situations, the response received by the server is in a computerised form, the test involves sending what is referred to as a “challenge to which only a human could correctly respond…” We also explain that “…CAPTCHA is most commonly implemented as a visual test whereby letters and/or words are displayed in a distorted manner that a human can be expected to decipher but a computer cannot. Obviously such a test inherently discriminates against blind and vision impaired people…”

Check out our brief to learn more about CAPTCHA and the barriers this creates for blind website users…



Audio Description Now Available on Sky

Submitted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Categories: Uncategorized

Since late October 2012, Sky Television has included audio description in its broadcasts of TVNZ One and Two. This is available to all Sky customers with no need for new equipment and no need to change your Sky plan. This is a very significant development as it brings audio description on TVNZ One and Two directly to the many New Zealanders that are Sky subscribers.

Since late October 2012, Sky Television has included audio description in its broadcasts of TVNZ One and Two. This is available to all Sky customers with no need for new equipment and no need to change your Sky plan. This is a very significant development as it brings audio description on TVNZ One and Two directly to the many New Zealanders that are Sky subscribers.

It must be remembered that only some programs are broadcast with audio description. One way to find out what programmes are coming up with AD is to use the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind’s telephone information service, which has programme listings for a range of TV channels and radio stations on option 2. You can phone TIS and take option 2, then choose the day of the week and then choose from the available stations. When you read the listings for TVNZ One and Two, you will hear which programmes will have audio description.

Another way is to go to the new TVNZ website that focuses on audio description and captioning. Just go to tvnz.co.nz/access-services and then choose the link for audio description, and then the link to programmes with audio description. This is updated from week to week and gives you a list of all the programmes in the coming week or two that will have audio description.

Blind Citizens NZ will continue to encourage Sky Television to start broadcasting audio descriptions on its most popular movie channels, but in the meantime it is only available on selected programmes broadcast on TVNZ One and Two.

Here are the instructions for Sky subscribers if you want to switch your decoder to hear audio description when it is being broadcast on TVNZ One or Two. We have written these instructions with blind people in mind so if you are blind you can hopefully do this without sighted assistance.

First for what are known as “legacy” decoders, ie if you do not have MySky:

  • 1. Press 1 or 2 on your remote control to switch to TVNZ One or Two.
  • 2. It is important to wait for at least five to ten seconds after changing channels before pressing the next button.
  • 3. Press the plus button to bring up the captions and audio language list. The plus button is directly below the left arrow key.
  • 4. Press the down arrow once to switch to the Italian language. Don’t worry. This just refers to the technical name of the audio track that has been allocated to audio description; but be assured what you will hear will still be in English.
  • 5. Press the select button to confirm the selection. The select button is in the centre of the four arrow keys. You might hear a short audio pause as your decoder switches.

At this point, if audio description is being broadcast on the channel you are tuned to, you should hear it come through. If you change channels, the setting will be lost so you will have to repeat the process again to get audio description again.

If when you follow this procedure you just get silence, it could be that your decoder is too old. We are aware that this can be a problem and Sky should replace your decoder with a new one at no charge. Sky Television has assured us that all customers with older legacy decoders are entitled to receive audio description when it is available on TVNZ One and Two.

For MySky subscribers:

  • 1. Press 1 or 2 on your remote control to switch to TVNZ One or Two.
  • 2. Press the setup button. This is a small round button just above and slightly to the left of the arrow keys.
  • 3. Press the down arrow once to get to audio languages.
  • 4. Press the right arrow once to get to Italian.
  • 5. Press the select button to confirm the selection.

At this point, if audio description is being broadcast on the channel you are tuned to, you should hear it come through. If you change channels, the setting will be lost so you will have to repeat the process again to get audio description again.

Regarding step 3, we believe that when you are on TVNZ One or Two, one press of the down arrow is needed. However we are aware of circumstances in which this may not be the case. It means there might be situations where the sequence as described above may not work.

However MySky subscribers do have the option of setting the decoder so it will always switch to audio description if it is available. This means you don’t have to follow the above procedure to switch to audio description each time you change channels. It will happen automatically so you will always hear audio description if it is being broadcast. This might be an attractive option for you if you can’t see the screen and you often don’t have sighted assistance available. This is quite an involved procedure and it might be best for blind people to seek sighted assistance when doing this, because if you make a mistake, you might end up changing another setting and then locking in that change in a way that you don’t want. Therefore we will just describe this procedure in brief:

  • 1. Press Active on your remote.
  • 2. Go to System Setup.
  • 3. Go to System Settings.
  • 4. Go to Audio and Language Settings.
  • 5. Go to Preferred Language.
  • 6. Select Italian.
  • 7. Go to Save New Setting.

One of our members who has MySky has reported to us that she was able to get a Sky technician to visit her home and set it up for her. You might consider phoning Sky and asking them to do this if you have nobody on hand who can set it up for you.



Money still talks, and now so do ATMs

Submitted: Monday, April 6, 2009
Categories: Uncategorized [types field=’attachment’ link=’true’ output=’raw’][/types]

For a number of years, the Association has been quietly working with the banking industry to push them towards introducing talking ATMs. ATMs, or automatic teller machines, often called cash machines, bank machines etc, are all over the place so people must use them.

For a number of years, the Association has been quietly working with the banking industry to push them towards introducing talking ATMs. ATMs, or automatic teller machines, often called cash machines, bank machines etc, are all over the place so people must use them.

Sighted people, that is. Blind people have not been able to use them because even though we can at least on some models learn which button is which, we can’t actually interact with these machines because we can’t read what is on the screen. Sure it’s possible on some machines to learn a series of actions that might result in getting a certain amount of money, but there is always the risk that something might go wrong, and ultimately the machine is likely to take your card if you persevere and as a blind person you wouldn’t know the reason why. We just think that access to ATMs is a human right since banks have some obligation to serve us to the same standard as they serve others, and technology has existed for some time now to make ATMs accessible to us.

I’m pleased to say that in the last couple of years there has been a bit of a “quiet revolution” going on, thanks largely to our Association’s continued advocacy and the favourable response of the banking industry. We must remember that these machines are often upgraded or replaced, and we always hoped that in time the banks would start to buy new machines with the capability of talking to us so we too could use them.

The first talking ATMs to appear were installed in 2005 by the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions. Though not a trading bank, they led the way in making banking more accessible to blind people.

But since then several banks have started to install them, and the numbers are growing. At the time of writing and according to information the Association has recently gained from the banks, ANZ the National Bank should have a massive 400 audio enabled machines installed by the end of May (we believe), Westpac now has 113 installed, ASB Bank has 79, and the Association of Credit Unions has 51. So basically that’s over 600 audio enabled machines in total either installed or coming very soon. That’s a tremendous and positive change.

Other banks are a little slower, but we are in touch with them and we believe they are making progress. We particularly hope that New Zealand’s own KiwiBank will install talking ATMs when their ICT infrastructure upgrades are complete.

The machines vary in detail, but the basic principle is that you plug a standard pair of headphones into the machine. It senses this and automatically starts to talk, giving the blind user full control over their transaction. Some machines even blank the screen during an audio transaction, which we think is a positive move because a blind person cannot always be sure no one is watching.

It is understandable that the banks did not want a lot of publicity during the early installations because even their own staff have had to find out about them.

But now we think it’s time to start telling people about our success. What we need now is publicity so particularly blind people with one of these machines close by can be aware of them. It may take a while for us to start using them because, let’s face it, we have had to get along pretty much without them, and often we can get cash from shops etc when we buy something using EFTPOS. But now that these machines are here, and a good number of us will have at least one machine in our area, I hope we will start using them like sighted people already do.