Access Alliance Supporter Feedback to MSD - January 2022 HTML

Feedback from Access Alliance Supporters on MSDs Accelerating Accessibility in New Zealand – Discussion with Access Alliance

We sought feedback on the Access Alliance website. The comments below have been provided by 6 Access Alliance individual supporters.

Question 1:

In your own words, what do you think the objectives or goals of the system should be?

  • Ensure that the outdated building code is brought up to Universal Design standards and that the persons making determinations on building code issues seek advice from persons in the disability sector to ensure that all views are taken on board. Often persons that provide information and advice are only looking at access issues from their viewpoint and their comments are taken to represent all disabled persons.
  • To make Aotearoa New Zealand fully accessible to all people by removing barriers to participation in all aspects of society.
  • Including disabled people in discussions and not replacing them with able-bodied academics as that is what has been happening in the past 15 years.
  • Eliminating accessibility barriers such as ensuring that all buildings meet Universal Design Standards, increasing the number of unisex disabled toilets, adding ramp signage, creating accessible places for children in family friendly areas, easy-use lifts, creating public spaces that are accessible and safe for all shapes, sizes and abilities.
  • To ensure that a diverse range of disabled voices are actively consulted at every point in the process (on this point only allowing a week for consultation in an access fail. Many disabled people take longer to process information for a diverse range of reasons ranging from the format to peoples energy levels).
  • To ensure that all staff are fully trained on a diverse range of access needs.

Question 2:

a) What should the Board be called?

  • Department of Accessibility Issues
  • Accessibility Commission
  • Board of Accessibility Issues

b) What are some of the expected behaviours/attributes that you want Board members to demonstrate?

  • Lived experience of disability.
  • Diverse experiences and wide range of disabilities and ages represented across the board.
  • Non-judgemental attitude.
  • Courage and determination.
  • Māori and Pacific disabled communities should be represented.
  • Mental health disabilities should be included and represented.
  • Ability to listen to other disabled person's views.
  • Ability to understand and appreciate the diversity and complexity of the disability community.
  • Ability to put disabled people’s views first.
  • Representation of whanau.
  • Capability and capacity to deal with a large number of issues.
  • Knowledge of government systems.
  • Knowledge of Tikanga Māori.
  • Ability to work as a team.
  • Ability to identify own areas where knowledge is limited.
  • Not afraid to ask for help.
  • Ability to think critically and creatively about solutions.
  • Members should be fully committed to the ethos: "Nothing about us, without us", the UNCRPD, and have a full understanding of the social model of disability.

c) What do you think the ratio between those appointed by the Minister vs nominated the community should be?

  • Three people appointed by the Minister and five people appointed by the community.

d) For the community nominations, how do you think this should happen?

  • Public election conducted by DPA or Disabled Peoples Organisations Coalition (DPOC), seeking nominations from disability community.
  • The board should be fully appointed by disabled communities with consultation from the Minister. We have already seen a failure of input by disabled communities in the appointment of a non-disabled interim director of the Ministry for Disabled People.
  • The Minister should establish a nominating committee of disabled community members: positions should be advertised publically, and DPOs should access applications and give feedback and recommendations on applicants to the committee. Federation of Disability Information Centres can ensure that the names and details are circulated to DPOs.
  • The committee should rely on the recommendations of the disabled community for appointments and to ensure that the board is a diverse representation of the disabled community

Question 3:

a) What responsibilities should the board have to be accountable and responsive to disability communities?

  • Accountability to the disability sector.
  • Transparency before making decisions that affect others.
  • All consultation to take place in an accessible way including taking timeframes into consideration (consultation takes time) and using accessible. language (words like "accountable" and "responsive" are not accessible)
  • Regular reporting and updates to be circulated to organisations such as the Federation of Disability Information Centres to ensure that information is passed to all other DPOs.
  • Engaging with groups of disabled people particularly those who don't comment very much.
  • Be sensitive to the fact that that disabled people have lives outside of advocacy and their time is as precious a resource as everyone else’s is.
  • Listen to individuals. When an individual tells you that they have an access issue there is a high chance that they represent many people who have simply given up on complaining about access barriers and disability discrimination.


“I hope we don't see consultation like this again, which is completely inaccessible to anyone with intellectual disability, any disability of literacy, anyone who needs extra time to process and output information. It is laughable that we are consulting on disability accessibility and accountability for accessibility using an entirely inaccessible process.”

b) The accessibility legislation will impact all areas of life in New Zealand. What are some of the other groups apart from disabled people that will be impacted by the system? How should the board engage with these groups?

Groups impacted:
  • Legislation will affect all New Zealanders. Elderly people, young families, migrant families, people who are poor.
  • The other important groups to engage with are planners, architects and people who work with infrastructure physical and digital.
  • Builders and contractors will be impacted if building standards change.
  • Women's health and childcare are applicable access concern areas. Mothers unable to access buildings with prams is an access issue.
  • Māori and Pasefika.
How should the board engage with these groups?
  • Social media will be an important tool to reach those who use it.
  • The Board should engage local representatives to organise Hui's s to ensure input is obtained from all parties. This will give the opportunity for all to understand the importance of legislation. It will be important to brief different industries on the importance of the changes. For example, meeting with builders and contractors to explain why plugs, switches, door opening buttons etc. should be mounted between 900mm and 1200mm and no closer than 500mm to an internal corner.
  • Engagement should be a mixture of focus groups and educational opportunities.
  • Young families input can be accessed through social media, parenting groups such as Parent Centre or Play Centre.
  • Residents of rest homes should be involved.
  • Consult with organisations that represent these groups e.g. Age Concern, Carers NZ, GreyPower, Migrant Organisations.

Read MSD's initial request for feedback: Accelerating Accessibility in New Zealand – MSD Discussion with Access Alliance

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