About Access Matters Aotearoa

Every New Zealander should be able to fully participate in society, have the opportunity to learn, to get a job, and to take part in community and social life.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, we like to think we live in a classless and fair society. We take pride in having a can-do attitude where working hard translates into getting ahead. We know, of course, that the reality is somewhat different for many of us. Our society was designed and built for just a portion of our population.

Access Matters Aotearoa is a movement comprised of a growing number of organisations from the disability and neurodiversity sectors, working with a range of business champions, and nearly 7000 individual supporters, representing and advocating for legislation to enable people with access needs.

Accessibility legislation acknowledges that all New Zealanders will at some stage during their lifetime have invisible or visible disabilities, either permanent or temporary. People with invisible and visible disabilities continue to experience barriers in everyday life. Identifying barriers and removing them is at the heart of this new law.

Without government action to ensure all businesses, buildings, and services are accessible, one in four of us, every day, will continue to be excluded from accessing or fully participating in parts of life that other Kiwis take for granted.

It doesn’t need to be this way.

The proposed accessibility legislative framework will focus on the prevention and removal of new barriers to ensure all people can participate and access the same opportunities on an equal basis with others.

Examples of barriers include:

  • Obstacles when getting around (e.g. inaccessible public buildings, spaces and transport);
  • Inaccessible public services (e.g. difficulty of access to health, justice, and education services);
  • Information and communication barriers (e.g. inaccessible websites and apps, signage and printed materials, lack of closed captioning); and
  • A low level of understanding of why access matters (e.g. grossly underestimating the value of accessibility to business and the economy)

We know we can remove these hurdles in life sooner and smarter - that's why we’ve formed The Access Alliance, to lead change.

When we talk about access and accessibility, we are referring to our ability to engage with, use, participate in, and belong to, the world around us.

Access Matters Aotearoa proposes that the New Zealand Government introduce new accessibility legislation to ensure people with visible and invisible disabilities, whether temporary or permanent can fully participate in their communities, and ensure the New Zealand economy and society can benefit from this.

Our current human rights legislation does not give organisations clear and specific expectations and guidance on what they need to do to become fully accessible as employers and service providers.

It’s not easy for an organisation to deliver accessible goods and services right now. That’s because we don’t have clear enough standards and no accessibility system to support and educate organisations that want to the right and smart thing.

Existing laws on “discrimination”, “equality before law” and “reasonable accommodation” do not provide sufficient guidance to organisations on how to design a website, provide employment, or deliver goods and services. Nor do these laws make it easy to identify and remedy matters when things are wrong which is yet another barrier.

The new legislation will establish minimum, industry-specific national standards for accessibility for New Zealanders with visible and invisible disabilities, and other people with access needs. These minimum standards will apply to all areas of New Zealand life.

There needs to be a framework that sets out how the standards will be developed and implemented over time.

To find out more, check out this set of principles , which Access Matters Aotearoa wants to be the basis for the new accessibility law.

Lobbying for it, drafting it, and implementing it will require perseverance and leadership from accessibility advocates and organisations, policy-makers, business and local government.

Support accessibility legislation now - it’s the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do and it’s the right time to do it.

The following videos summarise documents which are available on our resources page here.

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