Information for Organisations making Submissions on the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill
We need your help to ensure a barrier-free and accessible country for everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand and for future generations!
We’ve put together this information on the Bill and the submissions process to help your organisation have its say on the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill. This note is accompanied by a submission template, which has been prepared with the help of law firm Russell McVeagh, and drafted to assist you with providing a submission in response to the Bill.
Why make a submission?
At some point in our lives we will all be affected by an access barrier because it is every day people that experience accessibility barriers and as a result have access needs - whether it is ourselves or someone we love or an employee / employer ensuring society is well set up to help those with access needs will impact us all. The research shows that:
- In 2013, 24 per cent of the New Zealand population were identified as disabled, a total of 1.1 million people;
- 15-20% of a business's present employees are likely to be neurodiverse; and
- In New Zealand, 1 in 8 New Zealanders juggle work with caring for someone who is frail, unwell or has a chronic condition or disability;
A submission is an opportunity for the public to present their opinions, observations and / or recommendations on a matter before a select committee of Parliament. Most commonly, this occurs when a Bill, which is proposed law, is introduced, and the public is invited to give their feedback on it. The select committee then reports to the rest of Parliament what people think of the Bill. This is the only way possible in this country to have your say in making a new law. The submissions can be made in various accessible formats.
You can find more information about the Accessibility Bill and the submission process at the New Zealand Parliament website.
Overall, Access Matters Aotearoa is delighted to see the Government’s Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill. While we support the Bill there are some things about it that need to be improved.
See the New Zealand Law Foundation’s report on accessibility legislation.
What do we mean by accessibility?
Accessibility means all people can access the physical environment, transportation, and facilities and services open or provided to the public.
- Accessibility also applies to products, services, information and communications, including technology and systems.
- Accessibility is not just about disabled people – it includes older people, carers, parents with big prams, people for whom English is a second language.
- At some point in our lives we will all be affected by an access barrier – whether ourselves or someone we love. Every day people experience accessibility barriers and as a result have access needs
- Refer to the Access Matters Campaign Key Statistics 2022 for more information and resources on the impact of accessibility barriers regarding age, impairment, temporary disabilities, and so on.
What are accessibility barriers?
Access barriers can include attitudinal, environmental and digital barriers. These barriers mean that anyone experiencing them are unable to use products, devices or services, as well as public goods and services, in the same way as everyone else, and as a result experience exclusion and discrimination. Accessibility barriers can compromise outcomes for disabled people, and other groups including older people, carers and Māori.
There are different kinds of access needs that people experience, and include:
- Visual - need alternate ways to perceive the information, voice, large text etc.
- Physical - need alternatives to mouse, reliant on keyboard, fine motor control issues
- Cognitive - need simple and straightforward content and interface, speech input helpful
- Language – need simple content, graphics, interpretation
- Speech – need alternatives to verbal communication
- Hearing – need alternatives to audio content
You can read about lived experiences here in the #AccessDeniedDiaries and other organisational links
Why should organisations support a barrier-free Aotearoa New Zealand?
More consumers can access everyday products, services, facilities, and information.
Access barriers negatively impact on the people, society, business, and the economy.
Research from the United Kingdom shows that:
- 1 in 5 potential UK consumers have a disability
- Businesses lose approximately £2 billion a month by ignoring the needs of disabled people
- 73% of potential disabled customers experienced barriers on more than a quarter of websites they visited.
- The “Click Away Dollar” of lost business in Aotearoa New Zealand is estimated to be between $395 - $522 million annually.
How can accessibility barriers be removed?
Removing accessibility starts with understanding that they exist.
We have a once in a lifetime opportunity now to make sure this Bill is fit for purpose and delivers for everyone.
What is the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill?
The Bill aims to:
- provide an enduring, clear, and consistent methodology for addressing systemic accessibility barriers and growing accessibility practices, now and in the future;
- enhance leadership, accountability, and co-ordination to prevent and remove accessibility barriers and grow accessibility practices;
- build knowledge and awareness about the importance of addressing accessibility barriers;
- represent the voices of disabled people, tāngata whaikaha and their families or whānau, and others with accessibility needs;
- be flexible and progressive; and
- give effect to the principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi.
The Bill sets up the Accessibility Committee which is made up of disabled people and tāngata whaikaha who have knowledge of:
- te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi, te ao Māori, and tikanga Māori;
- the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and
- preventing and removing accessibility barriers and growing accessibility practices.
The Government’s Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill is available to read on the Parliamentary Counsel Office website.
Access Matters Aotearoa has prepared an Example Accessibility Bill to demonstrate what accessibility legislation for Aotearoa New Zealand could look like.
Points to consider for your submission
- A standard is clear information on how to do something. There are two types of standards, enforceable and non-enforceable. Enforceable standards are compulsory, non-enforceable standards are collaborative between people and organisations.
Notification and barrier identification process
- A notification process tells the regulator about negative disabling experiences. The regulators job is to determine what barriers led to that disabling experience and possible solutions.
Dispute Resolution Process and addressing barriers process
- When a barrier is identified, the regulator takes on the burden of enforcing removal of the barrier.
- Overarching body to monitor the proposed framework and make it work, similar to existing regulators e.g. WorkSafe, Commerce Commission and Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE).
How to make a submission
With the help of law firm Russell McVeagh, we’ve put together a template to help your organisation make a submission on the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill. Submissions are most powerful when they are clear, concise, and include statistics. Examples or references to your organisation’s experience with issues the Bill addresses are also persuasive.
The Social Services and Community Select Committee has made a video explaining the Bill and encouraging people to make submissions.
Submissions should be uploaded to the New Zealand Parliament website, where instructions are provided. Please note that, if your submission is not made online using the webform, the Select Committee will require two copies sent together to the secretariat.
Thank you for making a submission. Each and every submission counts!
Please sign and share our petition to help create a more inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.