Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill

Select Committee Submission Guide

Towards a Barrier-Free and Accessible Aotearoa New Zealand

Make your 5 minute Select Committee Quick Submission now!

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 guide on the bill and the submissions process, and provided a guided template submission form to help you have your say on the Government’s 'Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill'.

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 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. Includes older people, carers, parents with big prams, 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 – whether ourselves or someone we love?

Whether you have had an accident and are experiencing a temporary disability, are older or have a disability, you will likely experience an access barrier. Or you could be a carer, family member looking after someone with access needs.

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 law that provides the legal framework for disability rights. Aotearoa New Zealand, as a State Party to this Convention, ratified this human rights international law instrument in 2008. The UNCRPD is a useful source to find explanations and definitions for various concepts that should be included on 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 outcomes for disabled people, and other groups including older people, carers 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.”

Impairments can also include:

  • Visual - need alternative 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
  • 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.

#AccessDenied Diaries logo


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

Did you know that barriers have an impact on so many aspects of life including education, employment, services, built environment, digital spaces and technology and the ability to fully participate in society including tourism and hospitality, community and public events, arts, leisure and civic life including the democratic process in both local and central government?

Access barriers can also have an impact on the economy and society, while greater progress in accessibility offers economic as well as social benefits to society as a whole. For examples read NZIER's "Valuing Access to Work" report, and learn all about the impact of the Purple Pound.

Parliament_House,_Wellington,_New_Zealand_by Michal Klajban

How can accessibility barriers be addressed?

Addressing accessibility starts with creating an understanding of the issues and having the right laws in place to promote, protect and give effect to accessibility– everyone needs to have their say on the law, in particular, if we want a law that reflects lived experiences and is the best accessibility law it can be.

This is a momentous opportunity to help shape the first-ever accessibility legislation to be introduced to Aotearoa New Zealand - the 'Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill'. Everyone should be able to review this bill and have their say on it.

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.

[Specific text/analysis to be inserted once have this information from the Bill itself possibly]

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

[Decide if / how we insert link/ references to the example bill and engagement documents here? And what about the working document?]


Why make a submission?

What are submissions and why are they an important public participation mechanism?

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 an Act of low. 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 Submission form.

Make your 5 minute Select Committee Quick Submission now!

NZ House of Representatives logo

What can go into a submission?

Overall, we’re delighted to see the Government’s 'Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill', but we also think there are things in the bill that can be improved. Perhaps there are also areas in which you have lived experience, that you think should be addressed in the bill and improved.

We have more detailed feedback about what is good about the Government’s 'Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill' and what can be done better. Some of this advice is from Auckland Disability Law’s report on accessibility legislation. This advice represents an important step towards serious action in Aotearoa New Zealand, to remove barriers for disabled people and many other Kiwis with access needs.

To guide your submission we have provided six themes you can consider, along with your lived and personal experiences, and what you feel is working or not working in the current 'Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill':

  1. Standards
  2. Notification and barrier identification process
  3. Dispute resolution process and addressing barriers process
  4. Accessibility regulator
  5. Time frames

Why these themes specifically?

1. Standards

A standard is clear information on how to do something. There are two different types of standards:

Non-enforceable standards. This means people and organisations working together to figure out how things can be done. We want people to start working together on non-enforceable standards.

Enforceable standards. This is when the standard becomes a must-do. A new or existing regulator enforces the standard.

  • [Evidence and proof points, suggested clauses or reference to specific relevant clause in the Bill
  • Example - Refer to standards library we’ve pulled together for adaption / use for in NZ.]
2. Notification and Barrier Identification Process

We recommend a notification process to tell the regulator about negative, disabling experiences. Then it’s the regulators job to figure out what barriers led to that disabling experience. The regulator will ask questions like [“…”.] For example, if someone can’t get an accessible house, an accessible housing standard won’t solve the problem. People still need to be able to afford to buy or rent an accessible house, therefore you also have to address the economic settings.

  • [Evidence and proof points, suggested clauses or reference to specific relevant clause in the Bill]
3. Dispute Resolution Process – Addressing the Barriers Process

When you tell someone they have to do something - such as remove an access barrier - and they don’t comply by removing the barrier, or even agreeing that there is a barrier - then how do you resolve this situation? There’s a process for that: dispute resolution. The key thing is that the person who experiences the barrier doesn’t have to take on this fight. The regulator is responsible to resolve the disagreement.

  • [Evidence and proof points, suggested clauses or reference to specific relevant clause in the Bill]
 4. Accessibility Regulator

This is an overarching body to watch over the proposed framework and make it work. This is similar to existing regulators such as WorkSafe and the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE).

  • [Evidence and proof points, suggested clauses or reference to specific relevant clause in the Bill
  • WorkSafe as example of existing regulator]
5. More Information on Submissions and Access Matters Campaign Documents [What happened to 5. Timeframes?]

[Evidence and proof points, suggested clauses or reference to specific relevant clause in the Bill. Possibly even links to other submissions.]

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

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How to make a submission

Want to know more about making a submission?

We’ve put together this guide and template to help you make a submission on the Government’s 'Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill'. Submissions are most powerful when they’re unique and put forward your own personal point of view, so we encourage you to write about the access barriers you experience, and cover some of the points raised. Of course, feel free to tell the Select Committee other things too!

You can make a submission directly on the Social Services and Community Select Committee webpage, but we recommend you use our guided template Select Committee Quick Submission form.  It only takes five minutes to complete.

Make your 5 minute Select Committee Submission now!


When available, you can read other people's Select Committee submissions for ideas and inspiration.


Thank you for taking the time to read this guide and for making a submission. Each and every submission counts!

Access Matters Aotearoa logo

Authorised by Chrissie Cowan and Amy Hogan

Co-Chairs Access Matters Aotearoa


[Question we need to confirm - does the select committee accept Te Reo and NZSL submissions given that they are official languages of NZ ?]

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