The Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) is New Zealand's primary provider of vision-related services to blind, deafblind and vision-impaired people.
Each year nearly 1,200 New Zealanders who have gone blind or experienced serious sight loss register as RNZFB members. Loss of sight is no reason to put your life on hold. With the right support, training and opportunities blind, deafblind and vision-impaired New Zealanders can create new beginnings and live independent lives.
With members ranging in age from zero to over 100 years old, the RNZFB offers a wide range of essential vision-related services to its 11,700 members, catering to many different needs and interests.
Professionally trained staff teach members how to get around safely and confidently in both familiar and new situations. Members learn a range of new techniques to continue doing everyday activities like the washing, shopping, gardening and banking, and also how to use mobility aids like a white cane or a guide dog.
Losing your sight doesn’t mean you have to stop activities you love. The RNZFB library stocks a wide range of titles so you can continue to enjoy a read; most sports and leisure activities like scrabble, card games and sewing are easily adaptable to accommodate someone with little or no vision; and technology today means you can continue to use the computer, access the internet and communicate via email.
RNZFB Employment Consultants work with members looking for a job, exploring career options, needing to retain a job or those wishing to enrol in tertiary education. One of the barriers to employment include employers’ mistaken beliefs that a blind, deafblind or vision-impaired person is unable to do a job. In fact, RNZFB members work in over 80 industries.
The RNZFB also offers counselling and support for members and their family and Maori and Pacific staff ensure services are delivered in a culturally appropriate manner.
In New Zealand around 35% of vision loss is preventable. Don’t just accept failing eyesight with age – you should ALWAYS know the cause.
How you can help
As nearly all services are provided at no cost to members, the RNZFB depends on the continued support of the New Zealand public. Just one-third of the RNZFB's $22m annual operating budget comes from Government sources. The RNZFB has to raise the rest through donations, sponsorships and bequests.
To find out how you can support blind, deafblind and vision-impaired New Zealanders visit www.rnzfb.org.nz/howtodonate
Volunteers are the dedicated force behind the RNZFB with over 2,000 from varied backgrounds offering extra support to members and staff when and how they need it. Volunteers fulfil a number of roles and the RNZFB is always looking for people who respect others’ independence and privacy, who are patient, emotionally mature, reliable and empathetic. If you have as few as two hours free a week phone 0800 24 33 33 and ask to be put in touch with your local Volunteer Co-ordinator.