Sight loss can impact people in many ways. The ability to get around independently and safely, access information, and continue with everyday life can all become significant challenges.

The Blind Foundation provides essential support so that blind and partially sighted people can continue to lead their lives independently and have the same opportunities and choices as everyone else.
We are a registered charity and rely on voluntary donations to fund more than two-thirds of our services, with the remaining services receiving government funding.

Defining Blindness

There are many types, degrees and definitions of blindness. An ophthalmologist or health professional will be able to provide this information.

To receive free services and become a Blind Foundation member, sight loss will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Visual acuity is 6/24 or less (a person needs to be 6 metres from an object to 'see' an object that a person with 6/6 vision would see at 24 metres), or the field of vision is not greater than 20 degrees in the widest diameter. Visual acuity must be assessed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, and a formal referral is required.
  • Individuals experiencing dual sight and hearing loss (deafblindness) can also apply to become a Blind Foundation member and receive specialised services.

If this criteria is not met, you can talk to us about special registration which is where individuals can be assessed for access to specific services.

Support for sight loss

Our staff have specialist skills in assisting people with adjusting to sight loss.

We begin by offering individuals an assessment of their vision needs followed by a service plan, to ensure each person achieves what is important to them.  Sometimes the most that is needed is a brief assessment if the individual has some remaining functional vision. Another person may have experienced sudden sight loss and require an extensive rehabilitation programme.

In addition to assisting with independence needs, we offer the opportunity to learn more advanced techniques, such as using technology specially designed for blind and partially sighted people.

Each member receiving services has a key contact person whom they can keep in touch with as their needs change.

Our services

Everyday life
The ability to get on with everyday life is an important part of regaining independence following sight loss.

We help our members adapt to sight loss by teaching new skills for everyday tasks such as managing their home environment in a safe and practical way, confidence with money handling, using telephones and EFTPOS machines with ease, and recreation activities. The Blind Foundation also has an equipment shop with a wide range of items on offer that assist with adapting to everyday life with sight loss.

Getting around
Our specialist instructors teach members how to move around safely and confidently, at home and out and about. This can include the use of mobility aids such as white canes, learning to be guided by others, and how to safely cross roads. The Blind Foundation also provides the opportunity for a guide dog to some members as a mobility aid.

Access to literature and information
Many members continue to enjoy books and news and information with our extensive collection of talking books and braille books, along with our transcription service. We also provide a broad range of up-to-the-minute information on our Telephone Information Service. For those who wish to learn new skills, we offer courses for using adaptive technology and we also teach braille.

Other services
We also have dedicated teams who provide the following services:

  • Counselling (adults and children)
  • Employment support
  • Recreation
  • Business services
  • Environmental design advice Website accessibility consultancy
  • Accessible format production
  • Employer awareness training

Supporting our members

Blind Foundation Northland also co-ordinates support groups in Dargaville, KeriKeri and Whangarei.  Socials are held in Whangarei and dates, times, venues and contact people for these can be found by visiting the  ‘Events Calendar’. or contacting the Whangarei office on 09 437 1199.

  • Kerikeri  – 3rd Thursday of every month 1pm - 3pm in the Herb Murry Meeting Room in the Kerikeri Retirement Village.
  • Dargaville – last Monday of every month 10am - 12pm in the nurses lounge at Dargaville Hospital.
  • Whangarei – last Thursday of every month, upstairs at the RSA, 7-9 Rust Avenue, 1pm.

The support groups provide an opportunity to meet with others who are living with sight loss and offer peer support in a safe and relaxed forum to share concerns, ask questions, and come up with ideas and hints over afternoon tea.  At times Blind Foundation rehabilitation staff or invited speakers will be present to share information and there is generally entertainment provided.

More detailed information on all Blind Foundation services are outlined in the booklet entitled “Seeing You Through” available from your local office or by ringing our 0 800 24 33 33.  You can also visit our National website at blindfoundation.org.nz/how-we-can-help

Register with us as a client

There is no charge to become a member of the Blind Foundation and, once enrolled, most Blind Foundation services are provided free of charge. However if an instructor recommends a certain item of equipment, such as a talking watch or a magnifier, the equipment will need to be purchased by you.

To register as a Blind Foundation client, either contact us for a registration package and application form, or use the Client application for registration attached. Use this form if you’d like to become a client or if you are filling this out on behalf of a friend or family member.

Refer someone to us

If you are a professional such as an ophthalmologist, optometrist or other qualified referrer you can refer someone to us by filling in the attached form, Ophthalmic Referral form.

If you need help with either of these please phone 0800 24 33 33, email general@blindfoundation.org.nz or visit your local Blind Foundation office.

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Available Downloads Type Size
About the Whangarei Office pdf 135 KB
Blind Foundation information - one page pdf 112 KB
Application to register as a client pdf 277 KB
Ophthalmic Referral to Blind Foundation pdf 89 KB
10 things you need to know about white canes pdf 1 MB
Northland Support Groups pdf 59 KB