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Parents Of Vision Impaired NZ (PVI): HRMI Rights Tracker

The HRMI rights tracker paints a sobering but not unsurprising picture of the grim realities facing families with a disabled family member. Parent members of Parents of Vision Impaired NZ (PVI) have, over the past three decades, constantly advocated for the right of their blind, deafblind, low vision, or vision impaired child to a fully inclusive and accessible education, to accessible housing, to health, and, as their child ages into adulthood, the right to accessible workplaces and meaningful paid work.

PVI parents such as Glenn and Fran Marshall have brought cases to the Human Rights Tribunal in a desperate attempt to hold government agencies and their services to account for their violation of disabled children’s rights. Yet, breaches continue to occur.

PVI National Executive Officer, Dr Rebekah Graham, comments on the sobering findings of the HRMI: “Here in New Zealand we like to think that we provide equal opportunity for all, but what these results tell is that we have a very long way to go for our disabled children to make that happen for them. Education, housing, and employment are key challenges for our families. Progress is glacial.”

“For example, parents have faced delays of up to five years for property modifications, difficulties with accessing appropriate and timely support, can find it hard to source and learn to use assistive technology, and sometimes face a lack of understanding by mainstream educators with regards to visual fatigue and how it presents in children. It is really tough on our parents having to constantly advocate for their child to get even their basic needs met, and this takes its toll on parent’s well-being. I had a parent say to me, that it wasn’t until their child left school that they sat back and realised what a horrible, constant battle it had all been, how stressful it all was, and the effect it had on the entire family.”

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Parents of older disabled are also deeply concerned about the absence of accessible employment and training opportunities for their blind or low vision young person: “Secondary school ends and there’s just this big empty hole. Where do our young people transition to?” one parent asked. Another noted “Even the simplest of concessions [from the school] are put in the too hard basket and it’s our young people who are excluded from work before they’ve even had a chance to embark on any sort of career.”

At the recent Waitangi Tribunal Waitangi Tribunal Hearing PVI parent Andrea Lamont detailed successive failures by the state and the breaches of her son’s human rights.

An inclusive education has become increasingly difficult over the past decade for disabled children: currently over 1 in 3 applications for ORS support for disabled children is declined by the Ministry of Education.

Graham comments: “There have been enough reports. What we need is action on accessibility legislation and for specific goals with dedicated deadlines for improving education and life outcomes for our disabled children and their families.”

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