Taking Charge – an Accessible Society for All
Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand
TAKING CHARGE – AN ACCESSIBLE SOCIETY FOR ALL
For Immediate Release
On the evening of Tuesday 17 May at Parliament House, Minister for Disability Issues, Hon Ruth Dyson hosted the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand’s (Association) informational function for Members of Parliament, policy makers, stakeholders and members of the blindness community. This was the culmination of the Association’s annual Wellington Seminar, a legislative event hosted over two days, during which issues topical to the blind community were profiled.
“This year our focus is towards having RTS 14 protected by legislation, ensuring stricter monitoring of and compliance with NZS 4121 and having accessible voting for those of us who are blind or vision impaired” said Mrs Weston, National President of the Association.
RTS 14 - Guidelines for Facilities for Blind and Vision Impaired Pedestrians ensures the standardisation of pedestrian crossings, audible signals and other pedestrian facilities throughout the country. Mrs Weston said “we are currently reliant upon the goodwill of local councils and regional authorities to comply with these guidelines when new facilities are created or upgrades occur; while we acknowledge and appreciate that some councils are willing to comply with these guidelines, having them protected by legislation will result in a more satisfactory outcome that benefits everyone, especially those of us who are blind or vision impaired”.
NZS4121 is cited in the Building Act as a means of compliance with the Building Code. This standard also requires local and central government to ensure that clear access to pavements and buildings are provided. “It enforces the fact that accessible facilities benefit everyone in society, not just those of us with a disability” said Mrs Weston.
During the function, Minister Dyson gave an undertaking to support the Association in its endeavours and in particular to influence politicians and local body personnel with regards the implementation of RTS 14. She was clear that where there is evidence that non-compliance of NZS4121 has occurred, that due process would ensure those instances are addressed.
Mrs Weston said “the Association values the commitment given by Hon Ruth Dyson to work with us on these issues. Society continues to impose barriers that impact upon our fundamental rights to fully participate as we choose, not only in everyday activities such as recreation, employment and education but our environment. If we cannot rely on legislation to protect our rights, then we must be more diligent and take steps to address those anomalies that occur.”
Mrs Weston advised the Association is now working towards seeking a review of the accessibility of society for those with a sensory impairment. “For this reason, the Minister’s undertaking to work with us to give the issues before us today, greater exposure, is even more vital”, concluded Mrs Weston.