James is employed by a firm which meets socially at restaurants once a month on a Friday night. Unfortunately he is unable to take part in these gatherings.
This is because the venues are not accessible for customers who use a wheelchair. Each restaurant they meet at has an upstairs area for socialising, but no lift allowing James to access the upper floor.
When James enquired at his local council regarding clarification of the building regulations around access in public buildings, he discovered that they only adhere to the minimum building code which does not require lifts be installed to ensure access to higher levels of buildings. As two of the places frequented by his employers are newly built, he was surprised that it was not a requirement that all patrons, including disabled people, be able to access all areas of the restaurant. He was informed that the only essential requisite was wheelchair access to the restaurant where he could obtain the services they offer such as a drink, meal, and the ability to use the toilet facilities.
Accessibility legislation and standards could give the building code a badly-needed renovation, ensuring that all levels of buildings, whether new, old or refurbished, can be accessed by people with a disability so they can take part equally in work and social events.
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.
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