Every New Zealander should be able to fully participate in society, have the opportunity to learn, to get a job, and to take part in community and social life. Without government action to ensure all businesses, buildings, and services are accessible, one in four of us continue to be excluded from accessing or fully participating in parts of life that other Kiwis take for granted.
It doesn’t need to be this way. This government could introduce accessibility legislation to implement minimum standards and put accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa. Accessibility law will open the door so that EVERYONE, disabled and non-disabled, benefits from the contributions of us all.
Examples of barriers include:
- Obstacles when getting around (e.g. inaccessible public buildings, spaces and transport);
- Inaccessible products and services (e.g. lack of access to health services or to technology);
- Information and communication barriers (e.g. inaccessible websites and apps, lack of access to printed materials, lack of closed captioning); and
- A lack of understanding of why access matters (e.g. underestimating the potential of disabled people as students, employees, volunteers, parents, etc.)
We know we can remove these accessibility hurdles sooner and smarter - that's why we’ve formed The Access Alliance, to lead change.
When we talk about access and accessibility, we are referring to our ability to engage with, use, participate in, and belong to, the world around us.
The Access Alliance proposes that the New Zealand Government introduce legislation (The Accessibility for New Zealanders Act), to ensure people with disabilities can fully participate in their communities and ensure the New Zealand economy and society can benefit from disabled people’s contributions
Our current human rights legislation does not give organisations or businesses clear and specific expectations and guidance on what they must do to become fully accessible as employers and service providers
There are no standards, no specific requirements that an organisation needs to meet and no penalties for non-observance
Existing laws on “discrimination,” “equality before law,” and “reasonable accommodation” do not provide sufficient guidance to public and private sector organisations on how to design a website, provide employment, or deliver goods and services which enable people with disabilities and society to fully benefit
The legislation will establish minimum, industry-specific national standards for accessibility for New Zealanders with disabilities. These minimum standards will apply to all areas of New Zealand life and the economy. It will set compliance standards and administrative requirements to enable national standards, and associated penalties for non-compliance, to be developed, implemented and enforced
To find out more, check out this set of principles which the Access Alliance advocates for the Act to be based on.
Lobbying for it, drafting it, and implementing it will require perseverance and leadership from disability advocates and organisations, policy-makers, business and local government. We have to invest in this leadership now if we are to realise every New Zealander’s full potential.
Support accessibility legislation now - it’s the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do and it’s the right time to do it.
The following videos summarise documents which are available on our resources page here