I was born with very little vision and am also colour blind. Several years ago I returned to Christchurch, where I lived when I was growing up, on a holiday with my family. I decided to take my children on a trip to Cathedral Square and to visit the shops I remembered from my childhood.
When we arrived at the Square and got off the bus I was horrified to discover there were no longer any footpaths or gutters to mark safe places to stand or walk. The road and footpath were all on one level and appeared to be one colour, grey. I think the town planners must have decided defining footpaths was outdated. My familiar city was no longer safe and my children were in danger as I could not figure out where to walk. I had never felt my blindness so acutely or experienced such a sense of loss.
My husband found a newspaper article stating that the grey tiles were confusing for pedestrians, and the paving contractor had warned the city planners that the specifications were flawed. Public complaints led to council concerns about replacement costs.
I believe town planners and council employees should be made aware of the impact their careless decisions can have on the disabled community. It can destroy self-confidence, cause stress and accidents.
I think accessibility legislation would ensure that resource is put towards ensuring building and roading laws as well as council by-laws are adhered to. The disabled community would need to be consulted about major changes which would impact their safety.
This is my access story, it is one of many. I'm sharing it because I want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.