Access Alliance launches Open Letter to Parliamentary Party Leaders

Media Release: Disabled advocates speak in support of open letter 

Advocates with a range of disabilities have come together to launch an Open Letter today calling on all parliamentary parties to commit to introducing much needed accessibility legislation.

The proposed Accessibility Act  would enforce mandatory minimum accessibility standards that ensure organisations provide services and facilities that are fully inclusive and accessible, opening the door to disabled Kiwis having the same opportunities and choices as everyone else.

Disabled advocates have spoken in support of the Act, highlighting the difference it will make in their everyday lives.

Amy Hogan, age, who has Cerebral Palsy and is in a wheelchair,  said “It is extremely frustrating, as a young professional, that the current definition of access doesn’t go beyond a ramp to a door. I need to be able to get through that door and into a space that lets me work as an equal amongst my peers, have fulfilling employment, and be financially independent”.

Aine Kelly-Costello, age 22, who is blind, said “it is inspiring to be acting together with so many others with different disabilities, but who all face barriers to access like I do. We want our legislation, our policy and our practice to demonstrate that New Zealand is a leader in accessibility, and a country that genuinely cares about facilitating equal access for all.”

Vivian Naylor, CCS Disability Action Barrier Free Educator, age, who is in a wheelchair, said “it is very problematic that so many new buildings and workplaces are still being built without adequate consideration of who can access them and work in them. This is an issue not just for people in wheelchairs but for older people, people with pushchairs, the visually impaired, and many many others. Mandatory minimum accessibility standards are required to ensure we don’t continue to create a legacy of spaces that one quarter of our population struggle to use”.

“New Zealand needs a law that breaks down the barriers that the one in four Kiwis who have a disability face everyday to fully take part in society ” says Access Alliance Project Manager Dianne Rogers.

“Increased accessibility presents one of the largest opportunities for social and economic development for all New Zealanders. A report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research estimates that improving workforce participation for disabled people will add $1.45 billion per year to GDP and reduce annual costs to Government by $270 million*”.

“There are 14,000 New Zealanders with disabilities who are ready and able to work, yet struggle to gain employment. The Accessibility Act will make sure that jobs and workplaces are accessible to everyone,” said Ms Rogers.

The Open Letter is available to sign online: http://www.accessalliance.org.nz/open_letter

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About The Access Alliance

The Access Alliance is a collaborative of twelve national disabled people’s organisations, disability service providers, community organisations and disability advocates, working together to remove the barriers disabled New Zealanders face and build a New Zealand that is accessible to everyone. Collectively, the members assist over 763,000 New Zealanders.

The Access Alliance members include Auckland Disability Law, Blind Foundation, CCS Disability Action, Deaf Aotearoa, Disabled Person’s Assembly, Parents of Vision Impaired New Zealanders, Inclusive New Zealand, Kāpō Māori Aotearoa, Blind Citizens New Zealand, National Foundation of the Deaf, People FIrst, and the Cerebral Palsy Society. Other organisations are invited to join.

 

For more information, go to accessalliance.org.nz

 

*NZIER”Valuing Access to Work report available here: https://nzier.org.nz/static/media/filer_public/b1/be/b1be61f9-cf49-4cde-a0d1-2d2e8bc2ba8f/valuing_access_to_work.pdf

 

For more information and interview requests contact:

Kristin Gillies                                                Leroy Beckett

021 065 8460                                                02102375131

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