Can’t read fine print

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Lisa Sloan

ALL BILL PIKE wants is the chance to have his say.

The Mt Al­bert res­i­dent is par­tially blind and re­lies on his guide dog Noble to get around.

While read­ing is a strug­gle, Mr Pike still ac­tively keeps up with Auck­land City Coun­cil meet­ings and de­ci­sions.

So he was up­set to dis­cover there were no large text copies of the draft an­nual plan avail­able to him at a coun­cil pre­sen­ta­tion last month.

Large text copies are only avail­able on prior re­quest.

Mr Pike says he feels ex­cluded by the de­ci­sion.

“You try to take an in­ter­est and th­ese things im­pede you,” he says.

“I feel put down by this and I just get so frus­trated.”

Mr Pike says he has al­ways been able to get a large text copy of the draft an­nual plan sum­mary at meet­ings in pre­vi­ous years.

But when he at­tended a com­mu­nity board and pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tion of the plan last month, he was told there were none avail­able.

He says it is very dif­fi­cult for him to cope with read­ing small text.

“I’ve got some sight but I strug­gle to see even with a six times mag­ni­fier,” he says.

“I fear there might have been bud­get cuts and I want to have my say.”

Eden Al­bert coun­cil­lor Cathy Casey at­tended the meet­ing with Mr Pike and was up­set to see there were no large text copies avail­able.

She says the coun­cil is­not cater­ing for el­derly and vi­sion-im­paired peo­ple as well as it should be.

“We have to pro­vide for our stake­hold­ers and that in­cludes cul­ture, eth­nic­ity, age and dis­abil­ity,” she says.

“Bill got dressed down and com­pletely writ­ten off by them.”

Dr Casey says she was told by the coun­cil to give Mr Pike a CD ROM to play at his lo­cal li­brary ex­plain­ing the draft an­nual plan.

She says that’s not good enough.

“This man re­lies on a guide dog and it is not easy for him to get to his lo­cal li­brary at all,” she says.

“To say I was not happy is an un­der­state­ment.”

Dr Casey says the coun­cil used to pro­vide large text copies of the draft an­nual plan un­til last year but stopped this year be­cause there was not a large up­take.

“It’s just this line by line ac­count­ing, it’s not like they need to pro­duce 200 of them.

“We need to give any­one who has im­paired sight the chance to read it,” Dr Casey says.

Coun­cil fi­nance gen­eral man­ager Andrew McKen­zie says copies of the large text draft an­nual plan sum­mary have al­ways been pro­vided on re­quest.

The coun­cil did not re­spond to fur­ther ques­tions from the Auck­land City Har­bour News.

Sub­mis­sions for the draft an­nual plan close on May 20. For more in­for­ma­tion visit www.auck­land­c­ity. govt.nz or phone 379-2020 to get a large text copy.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Shut out: Mt Al­bert res­i­dent Bill Pike is par­tially blind and was up­set to find there were no large text copies at a coun­cil pre­sen­ta­tion of the draft an­nual plan last month.

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