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.
In Aotearoa New Zealand, we like to think we live in a classless and fair society. We take pride in having a can-do attitude where working hard translates into getting ahead. We know, of course, that the reality is somewhat different for many of us. Our society was designed and built for just a portion of our population.
The Access Alliance is a movement comprised of a growing number of organisations from the disability and neurodiversity sectors, working with a range of business champions, and nearly 7000 individual supporters, representing and advocating for legislation to enable people with access needs.
Accessibility legislation acknowledges that most New Zealanders will at some stage during their lifetime face temporary or permanent impairment and/or barriers that limit their access to fundamental needs. Identifying barriers and removing them is at the heart of this new law.
Without government action to ensure all businesses, buildings, and services are accessible, one in four of us, every day, 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.
The proposed legislative framework will focus on the prevention and removal of barriers to ensure all people can participate and access the same opportunities on an equal basis with others.
Examples of barriers include:
- Obstacles when getting around (e.g. inaccessible public buildings, spaces and transport);
- Inaccessible services (e.g. difficulty of access to health, justice, and education services);
- Information and communication barriers (e.g. inaccessible websites and apps, signage and printed materials, lack of closed captioning); and
- A low level of understanding of why access matters (e.g. grossly underestimating the potential of removing barriers at both an economic and social level)
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 temporary or permanent impairment, difference, or disability can fully participate in their communities and ensure the New Zealand economy and society can benefit from this.
Our current human rights legislation does not give organisations or businesses clear and specific expectations and guidance on what they need to do to become fully accessible as employers and service providers
There are no standards and no structure 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. Nor do these laws make it easy to identify and remedy matters when things are wrong which is yet another barrier.
The legislation will establish minimum, industry-specific national standards for accessibility for New Zealanders with temporary or permanent impairment, difference, or disability. 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 accessibility 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.