The Bill Applies to All:
The Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill must cover not only central government, but all places and services open or provided to the public, including those delivered by local government and private organisations.
An accessibility standard is a set of guidelines, rules or requirements that are put in place to ensure that products, services and environments are accessible to people with disabilities or access needs. These standards provide a framework for making things more usable, convenient and inclusive.
Examples: An accessibility standard could be a guideline that requires websites to have alternative text for images, so that people who are blind can understand the content using screen readers. It could also be a requirement for public buildings to have ramps and handrails for wheelchair users to access entrances and exits.
The establishment of a regulator with powers to develop, review and enforce accessibility standards. A regulator is an entity or organisation responsible for overseeing and enforcing compliance with laws, regulations and standards. In the context of the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill, a regulator would be a designated, independent body responsible for monitoring and ensuring that accessibility standards are being followed by organisations and entities covered under the Bill. They may conduct audits, inspections and assessments to ensure that organisations are making their products, services and environments accessible to individuals with disabilities.
A Barrier Notification System:
A barrier notification system is a process or system that allows individuals with disabilities to report instances where they face barriers to accessibility. It involves a mechanism for individuals to notify relevant authorities – ideally a regulator – when they encounter difficulties in accessing products, services or environments due to access barriers. This system helps to identify areas that need improvement and promotes accountability for organisations to address accessibility concerns.
For example, if a person who is Deaf encounters a video without NZSL or captions on a website, they could use a notification system to report the issue to the relevant authority or regulator for action.
A Disputes Resolution Process which is Accessible, Free and Well-Resourced:
A dispute resolution process refers to the steps or procedures that are followed to resolve conflicts and disputes related to accessibility issues. It could involve a formalised process for individuals with disabilities to seek resolution when their accessibility needs are not met by organisations and other entities covered under the Bill.
This process may include mediation, arbitration and other means of resolving disputes, to ensure that accessibility standards are upheld and that issues are resolved in a fair and timely manner.
The process could involve steps such as submitting a complaint to a designated authority – such as a regulator – which then investigates the issue and works towards a resolution. For instance, if a person with a mobility impairment faces barriers accessing a public transportation service, they could file a complaint with a designated dispute resolution body, which would then facilitate discussions and negotiations between the parties involved to resolve the dispute.
That the Bill Guarantee Accountability by Law, not by the Minister in Charge:
In the Bill’s current format, the removal and the prevention of new barriers relies heavily on the discretion of the Minister for Disability Issues, rather than accountability to the law. We want an Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill that promotes accessibility for people with disabilities by setting legally enforceable standards, establishing a regulator to oversee compliance, providing a notification barrier system for reporting issues, and outlining a dispute resolution process to resolve conflicts related to accessibility.