I wanted to go ice skating, so I rang a local rink in Wellington.
I am blind and would need my support worker to guide me on the ice. I enquired about free or discounted admittance for disability support workers. They said no, support workers have to pay the entrance fee too.
I couldn't ask my support worker to pay twenty dollars to do her job. I couldn't go without her, and I couldn't afford a double price entry. It was already an expensive treat for me.
So I didn't go ice skating. I wanted to have a fun day out, but it never happened. I often either miss having the assistance I need, or simply don't go to places. Two years later, I still haven't had a chance to go ice skating.
New access laws should require free admittance for disability support workers to be standard, and available at shows, movies, activity centres, etc. Support workers aren't there to enjoy the event or facility. That's not so say they can't enjoy their job, but it is not what they are primarily there to do. They provide the support and accessibility assistance the disabled person requires. If I had a guide dog, would it be acceptable for me to have to buy them a ticket to an event or show? Of course not. I have a guide human, why should it cost me more to get in? People with disabilities shouldn't have to pay twice as much to participate.
This is a story about the barriers many face. We're sharing it because we want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.