Meet William W

William is a blind person with a keen sense of adventure. You can tell from the way he talks about fantasy fiction.

William stands in Albert Park with his cane and his penny whistle

“I'm hoping to do fantasy writing because I'm a big fan of Lord of the Rings and all that big grand epic kind of writing.” he says. 

“That kind of writing is fanciful in the way that you can put things in there that you don't find in reality.”

With this adventurous spirit, his proudest achievement this year was getting to class independently. 

I think just getting to class was a proof to myself; evidence that I could actually live in an outside world; an expanded world. I could actually live in the city by myself and do things.


At the beginning of the year, Ratonga Hauātanga Tauira | Student Disability Services (SDS) collaborated with Blind Low Vision New Zealand to organise an Orientation and Mobility Specialist for William, who supported him in finding and learning the routes to his classes. 

“Because I'm fully blind, I basically need to memorize procedural turns and things like along the routes to find where I'm getting to a lot easier.”

Now that he has gained confidence in getting around campus, he can focus on his studies in English and Sociology. He says his courses have really challenged him to reflect on things he has taken for granted.

“I've read a lot. It's made me think a lot about society and writing and just everything in general. It has honestly made me question existence sometimes. In a good way!”

But William hasn’t always been such an avid reader. Reading in braille with English as his second language was a challenge for him as a child. It wasn’t until he discovered audiobooks that he really lost himself in worlds of fiction.

“I could just sit there and listen to for ages and ages.” he says. “Eventually, that took the position of TV for me. So instead of watching TV, I'd just sit there with my CD player, and I'd just listen to book, after book, after book.”

When he’s not studying, William is a musician and a poet. He likes to play the penny whistle and write poems with a sense of rhythm.

“It's not just the connotations and the images of the words, it's how the words are written; how the words are said. I think there's a kind of magic in that.”