Accessible Act push urged

SHARE
Pushing for accessibility . . . Gathered in Dunedin last week to discuss The Access Alliance's campaign for an Accessible Aotearoa Act are (back from left) South Otago community representative Doug Keen, Blind and Low Vision NZ Dunedin employment consultant Julie Harrington and ambassador Julie Woods, general manager policy and advocacy Dianne Rogers, (front from left) member Raewyn Auckram and Disability Information Service Otago access adviser and educator John Marrable. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

The campaign for the Government to commit to an Accessible Aotearoa Act is about to heat up, as grassroots support grows.

That was the message Access Alliance NZ co-ordinator and Blind and Low Vision NZ general manager policy and advocacy Dianne Rogers had for Dunedin disability advocates during a visit last Friday.

Ms Rogers met Blind and Low Vision NZ staff and Dunedin members of The Access Alliance to discuss the ongoing push for legislation to greatly improve accessibility in all aspects of life for people with disabilities.

Such legislation would ensure the removal of existing obstacles and prevent the creation of new ones, such as physical, legal, information, communication, attitudinal, technological or other barriers.

It would also protect and build on the existing rights of people with disabilities.

“With a general election only a year away, now is the time to really push for legislation,” Ms Rogers told the gathering.

Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni was on board with the campaign, but was awaiting a decision from Cabinet, which was in the midst of a busy legislative programme.

“We want to get the Accessible Aotearoa Act up that list, and are hoping for a Bill to be put to Parliament in June 2020,” Ms Rogers said.

The Access Alliance was determined to ensure the legislation had cross-party support, and did not become a political football.

Raising awareness of the purpose of such legislation, and mobilising organisations, businesses and individuals to support the campaign for its introduction were vital, she said.

“When I have spoken to businesses, councils, DHBs and others, all have acknowledged that it is time for things to change.”

Across New Zealand, The Access Alliance had started planning for public awareness events to be held early next year, as well as for a social media campaign.

“It is important that we engage the wider community around the benefits for everyone of this legislation.

“But we also need to reinforce that too many people are facing barriers every day.”

The Access Alliance is calling on people to become supporters of the “Access Matters” campaign, which is open to everybody.

For more information on the campaign, visit accessalliancenz.org.nz