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Blind Low Vision NZ encourages Kiwis to keep them in sight

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Fraser Alexander started losing his vision as a teenager and by 37 years old, Fraser was blind, but this hasn’t stopped him from packing more into his life than most of us.

Fraser has run the New York Marathon twice and explored the world, travelling to over 60 countries " I’m not sure we’ve got enough time to get to all the other places that interest us, we normally find each new travelling experience to be a special gift, a privilege" .

"My love for travel is about understanding the history of a place, which you simply can’t get from any other medium than being there," says Fraser.

"For me, it isn’t about seeing the sights, rather it's the flavours, smells and sounds creating the feel of each country that feeds the spirit. My wife and I’s favourite country is India - "it really is an immensely enriching experience"."

Fraser has been a member of Blind Low Vision NZ (formerly Blind Foundation) for 22 years and is now a member of the board, as well as working full-time at University of Auckland as a fundraiser.

He knows well the impact supporters have for people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision.

This week is the launch of Blind Low Vision NZ’s annual Blind Week appeal, which is a time to celebrate New Zealanders with vision loss living the life they choose. More than 1500 volunteers will be on the streets collecting for the appeal on 16-17 October with a fundraising goal of $250,000, Blind Low Vision NZ cannot do this without the support of New Zealanders.

About 180,000 New Zealanders who have moderate to severe vision loss. Every day, Blind Low Vision NZ helps Kiwis who are blind, deafblind or have low vision, find the best ways to do the things they want in life through practical and emotional support.

John Mulka, Blind Low Vision NZ Chief Executive says: "Every day, an average of six Kiwis turn to Blind Low Vision NZ for support with sight loss. By donating, you can help make a tangible difference in people’s lives."

Fraser originally went to Blind Low Vision NZ to investigate a ‘talking watch’ to help him read the time. He knew he would also require further services as his sight diminished.

"I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, but I now use a range of their direct client services including the talking book library, adaptive technology, and equipment services. I also benefit greatly from advocacy and accessibility initiatives, programmes that minimise barriers to full and independent participation in our community," says Fraser.

Funds raised from Blind 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 find or stay in employment, mobility training including guide dogs, or developing tools and strategies to keep doing the things they need and want to do.

Fraser is also passionate about ensuring more people are aware of how important a white cane can be to a blind, deafblind or low vision individual.

There is actually more to the use of a white cane than you might think. When a person with vision loss is trained properly, they are able to move through environments with full mobility. The white cane is a lifeline.

"I truly believe that it’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it," says Fraser.

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