Highlights: Lessons from International Disability Advocates for New Zealand

On Tuesday 22 February 2022, Stuff NZ Disability Journalist Olivia Shivas and I had the great privilege to host an extraordinary webinar panel of legendary international disability advocates. We learned how we can strengthen our campaign for an effective accessibility law in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We are incredibly appreciative to these trailblazers for sharing their time and expertise to support us at this pivotal moment.

Subsequently, we have had many people ask for a recording of the webinar. The video is being captioned and we will make it available on the Access Alliance website as soon as possible.

Until then, here are some highlights from our extraordinary panelists:

ALT: Time Magazine cover - \

“The disability community should be outraged that this is a discussion going on now. Given that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was ratified in 2008, and I think New Zealand was one of the first countries to ratify it.”

Judy Heumann, American disability rights activist and Disability International Ambassador for Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America.


“New Zealand ratified the CRPD … in 2007. We all thought New Zealand would continue to be a leader in this process.”

Michael Fox, Director and Chairperson of Rights & Inclusion Australia.


“New Zealand has a CRPD review in August this year.”

“The CRPD committee will be holding New Zealand to the highest possible standards of jurisprudence because New Zealand has put itself out there as a leader for many years on the rights of persons with disabilities”.

Jarrod Clyne, Human Rights Advisor for the Human Rights Council, Geneva.


“There are many international standards that can be used. The EU has very good accessibility standards that have been used in India, Japan, Mexico, Australia, Canada, Kenya …”

Catherine Naughton, Director of the European Disability Forum.


“I think you all need to be putting yourself much more directly in the driver's seat.”

“I would say, make us proud. Do better than what we've done. And learn from what others have done before you, and go even bigger.”

David Capozzi, former Chair of the US Access Board.


We cannot rest on our laurels. We need to use our collective strength to ensure that sure politicians from all parties, officials, media and the public understand why we need #AccessLawRightNow.

The campaign team have prepared template letters to support you to write to your MP. We also have a template letter for you to send to Hon. Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Disability Issues. These template letters are available on the Access Alliance website.

The campaign team are here if you need any assistance. Contact Taryn by email at [email protected] or phone or text 0220162571. NZSL or captioned video calls can be arranged.

We have social media tiles on our website. Please share these via your networks and use them to show your support.

We’re grateful to all of you for getting us this far. Now is the time to do everything we can to get the access law we need.

Ngā mihi nui

Juliana Carvalho, staring down the barrel!

Juliana Carvalho

For the Access Matters Campaign




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