Information to help you make a submission on the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill

Make your 5 minute Select Committee Quick Submission now!

You can ensure a barrier-free and accessible country for everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand and for future generations!

We’ve put together this information to help you make a submission on the Bill. If you already know what you want to say about the Bill, make a quick submission now using our Quick Submission Form.

Coat of arms of New Zealand

Why a barrier-free and accessible Aotearoa New Zealand?

What do we mean by accessibility and what are accessibility barriers?

Accessibility means all people can access the physical environment, transportation, and facilities and services open to, 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, and people for whom English is a second language.

Did you know that at some point in our lives we will all be affected by an access barrier?

You or someone you love will likely experience an access barrier, due to:

  • an accident which causes a temporary disability
  • growing older and the ageing process
  • caring for a loved one with access needs, and
  • many other reasons.

Flag of the United Nations

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is the international treaty that provides the legal framework for disability rights. Aotearoa New Zealand, as a State Party to this Convention, ratified this human rights international instrument in 2008. The UNCRPD is a useful source to find explanations and definitions for various concepts that should be included on a country level.

For example, UNCRPD in Article 9 provides on accessibility and State Parties, like Aotearoa New Zealand that: 

“To enable persons with disabilities and people with other access needs to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia:

(a) Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces;

(b) Information, communications, and other services, including electronic services and emergency services.”

Did you know that every day people experience accessibility barriers and as a result have access needs?

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 the lives of disabled people, and other groups including older people, carers, support workers and Māori.

There are different kinds of barriers that people experience which the UNCRPD defines as:

A barrier means anything that prevents a person with a disability or other access need from fully participating in all aspects of society because of his or her disability, including a physical barrier, an architectural barrier, an information or communications barrier, an attitudinal barrier, a technological barrier, a policy or a practice.

While Article 1 of the UNCRPD provides:

“Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

Different impairments require different accessibility solutions, for example:

  • Visual - need alternative ways to perceive the information, voice, large text etc
  • Physical - need alternatives to mouse, reliant on keyboard, fine motor control issues
  • Learning - 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
  • Neurodiverse – need concise verbal and written instructions for tasks, and break tasks down into small steps and accommodations any sensory needs, such a quiet space.

Read about people's lived experience of access barriers in the #AccessDeniedDiaries.

#AccessDenied Diaries logo

Did you know that barriers:

  • impact a wide range of areas of life e.g. education, employment, services, built environment, digital spaces and technology?
  • stop people from fully participating in society e.g. tourism and hospitality, community and public events, arts, leisure and civic life?
  • exclude some people from taking part in the democratic process?

Access barriers can have a negative impact on the economy and society. Greater accessibility offers economic and social benefits to society as a whole. For more information read the 'Valuing Access to Work' report, and learn all about the impact of the Purple Pound in the UK. Aotearoa New Zealand is missing out on these benefits.

Parliament_House,_Wellington,_New_Zealand_by Michal Klajban

How can accessibility barriers be addressed?

Addressing accessibility starts with an understanding of the impact that barriers have on people’s everyday lives. Having the right law will fast-track accessibility in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Accessibility affects everyone. Everyone should have a say on what the law should cover.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make sure that Aotearoa New Zealand’s first-ever accessibility law delivers on what New Zealanders need and deserve.

What is the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill about?

The New Zealand Parliament website says,

This bill establishes a new legislative framework that addresses systemic accessibility barriers that prevent disabled people, tāngata whaikaha and their whānau, and others with accessibility needs from living independently and participating in all areas of life.

Read, download or print the full version of the Government's 'Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill' with alternative formats of the bill also available.

Read Access Matters Aotearoa's Example Bill. This Example Bill imagines what it might look like if the 13 Principles were turned into a new law, to fast-track accessibility. You can refer to this Example Bill in your submission if you wish.

Check out Auckland Disability Law's initial response to the Government Bill.


Why make a submission?

Because it’s important for citizens to have a say on making new laws

When a bill is introduced in Parliament, as part of the legislation drafting process, the public is usually invited to participate and give their feedback in the proposed legislation. A bill is the first draft of the proposed legislation. This is the only way possible in Aotearoa New Zealand to have your say in making a new law.

You will have the opportunity to engage with the 'Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill'. You can say you support the bill, you can also say that you don’t support the bill and why. Making a submission also gives you an opportunity to share your personal experiences and tell the Select Committee what you think is good about the bill and where it can be improved.

The Parliamentary submissions process is the means to provide your say to the Social Services and Community Select Committee (the "Select Committee") which is responsible to pass the bill through Parliament to eventually become a law. The submissions can be made in various accessible formats.

You can make a submission directly to the Select Committee via the parliamentary website, however we encourage you to use our quick and easy five minute, guided Select Committee Quick Submission form.

Make your 5 minute Select Committee Quick Submission now!

NZ House of Representatives logo


The following are some select Access Matters campaign resources that you may find useful in making your Select Committee Submission:

NZ flag

How to make a submission

Want to know more about making a submission?

Submissions change MPs minds when they’re unique and express personal points of view. We encourage you to write about the access barriers you experience.

If you would like assistance completing the Select Committee Quick Submission form please contact Taryn Banks on [email protected] or 022 016 2571. We're here to help! NZSL video and captioned calls are available.

Make your 5 minute Select Committee Quick Submission now!

We hope this information helped you to make a submission. Each and every submission counts!

Access Matters Aotearoa logo

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.