David Lepofsky and Amy Hogan interview on Radio New Zealand

Four in five NZers want accessibility standards - study.   5 September 2017 - Emma Hatton RNZ.

You can listen to the full interview (25 min) interview with David and Amy here.

A poll has found 80 percent of New Zealanders support setting minimum standards for disabled access for public areas and work places.

The proposed standards would cover access to buildings, transport, information and services, including website access for people with sensory or dexterity disabilities.

Currently there are no specific standards on what organisations must do to become fully accessible.Image of Access Ramp

Access Alliance spokesperson Amy Hogan told Nine to Noon accessibility in New Zealand was "pot luck" and enforceable standards were essential to allow those with disabilities to fully take part in society.

Ms Hogan said the decision to improve access standards was a "no-brainer" and would benefit the economy by allowing disabled people into workplaces and customers to buy good and services.

A report commissioned by the Blind Foundation in February estimated a potential $300 million annual reduction in jobseeker disability costs if access barriers to public areas and workplaces were removed.

The report also showed making these areas more easily accessible could significantly lift the value of the economy by an estimated $862 million.

Canadian disability activist and lawyer David Lepofsky said firms and organisations could be missing out on attracting disabled customers and potential staff if they were not thinking about access issues.

"What makes economic sense for society and for the individuals is to set out detailed standards, to let obligated organisations know what they have to do and when they have to do it by.

"Good accessibility standards should be a money maker for businesses," Mr Lepofsky said.

There are 1 billion people worldwide with some form of disability, according to the World Health Organisation.

Mr Lepofsky said by making access for disabled people commonplace, New Zealand could tap into the disability tourist market.

"Can New Zealand afford to say 'we don't want access to that market? We don't want tourists with disabilities', of course not - that's a huge market.

"Any country that decides they want access to that market, through legislation, can make sure that tourism and hospitality services are taking the necessary steps to become accessible so they can get that new business."

According to a 2013 Statistics New Zealand survey, one in four New Zealanders have a physical, sensory or learning disability.

Mr Lepofsky said access was an important issue for all, particularly as older people increasingly struggled with mobility.

A commitment to introduce the legislation has been made so far by the Labour, Green and Māori parties.


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