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Disabled advocates speak in support of open letter

Tuesday 01 August

Disabled advocates speak in support of open letter

Advocates with a range of disabilities have come together to launch an Open Letter today calling on all parliamentary parties to commit to introducing much needed accessibility legislation.

The proposed Accessibility Act would enforce mandatory minimum accessibility standards that ensure organisations provide services and facilities that are fully inclusive and accessible, opening the door to disabled Kiwis having the same opportunities and choices as everyone else.

Disabled advocates have spoken in support of the Act, highlighting the difference it will make in their everyday lives.

Amy Hogan, age, who has Cerebral Palsy and is in a wheelchair, said “It is extremely frustrating, as a young professional, that the current definition of access doesn’t go beyond a ramp to a door. I need to be able to get through that door and into a space that lets me work as an equal amongst my peers, have fulfilling employment, and be financially independent”.

Aine Kelly-Costello, age 22, who is blind, said “it is inspiring to be acting together with so many others with different disabilities, but who all face barriers to access like I do. We want our legislation, our policy and our practice to demonstrate that New Zealand is a leader in accessibility, and a country that genuinely cares about facilitating equal access for all.”

Vivian Naylor, CCS Disability Action Barrier Free Educator, age, who is in a wheelchair, said “it is very problematic that so many new buildings and workplaces are still being built without adequate consideration of who can access them and work in them. This is an issue not just for people in wheelchairs but for older people, people with pushchairs, the visually impaired, and many many others. Mandatory minimum accessibility standards are required to ensure we don’t continue to create a legacy of spaces that one quarter of our population struggle to use”.

“New Zealand needs a law that breaks down the barriers that the one in four Kiwis who have a disability face everyday to fully take part in society ” says Access Alliance Project Manager Dianne Rogers.

“Increased accessibility presents one of the largest opportunities for social and economic development for all New Zealanders. A report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research estimates that improving workforce participation for disabled people will add $1.45 billion per year to GDP and reduce annual costs to Government by $270 million*”.

“There are 14,000 New Zealanders with disabilities who are ready and able to work, yet struggle to gain employment. The Accessibility Act will make sure that jobs and workplaces are accessible to everyone,” said Ms Rogers.

The Open Letter is available to sign online: http://www.accessalliance.org.nz/open_letter


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