Seventy-seven year old Trevor Plumbly jumped at the chance to return to the media workforce. The former radio talkback presenter and presenter of TV series ‘Antiques for Love or Money’ lost his sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa 20 years ago. But as part of the News Crew Swap initiative driven by NewsHub and the Blind Foundation, Trevor was able to take a role in producing the news.
So, at 6pm on Monday, 29 October, many New Zealanders tuned in to watch Newshub, not realising that members of the crew who usually deliver the news had been swapped out for new ones – Blind Foundation clients living with no or low vision.
Working together, they provided the crew with the training and support they needed to bring New Zealand the news, as they worked across a range of essential newsroom roles.
“Through our services, we help people with low or no vision to live a life without limits. The Crew Swap was a compelling demonstration of this. Running a live newsroom is a challenging job, so what better place to show what can be achieved with the right support, than this fast-paced environment,” says Sandra Budd, Blind Foundation Chief Executive.
Sighted guiding training and adaptive technology services enabled Trevor to join the Assignment Desk team.
In his day-to-day life, Trevor credits the Blind Foundation for making it easier to work around his vision impairment. The Foundation provides counselling, technology support, education and employment services, as well as recreational services that support active lifestyles and promote new friendships within the community.
Trevor is a big fan of the library and assistive technology like Alexa.
The Crew Swap was driven by the need to shed light on the increasing prevalence of Kiwis living with vision loss, like Trevor, and to encourage New Zealanders to take a fresh look at the Blind Foundation and its services. With an ageing population, it is estimated 350,000 New Zealanders will be living with age-related macular degeneration in 2030 – an increase of 70% from today.
Almost half of the Foundation’s clients are aged 80+ as a result of age-related eye conditions.