Submissions on the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill closed on Monday.

Press Release: Call From Disabled People For Accessibility Bill To Go Back To The Drawing Board – United Nations Recommends Co-design

Disabled people are hugely disappointed by the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill which will do little to improve accessibility unless it is redrafted, the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA) says.

“Really, this legislation needs to go back to the drawing board,” DPA Chief Executive Prudence Walker says. “The bill is structurally flawed in its design. It needs to be redrafted, and that needs to be done with disabled people, tangata whaikaha Māori, DPOs and the wider disabled community.”

“Most of what is in the bill contains little of meaningful substance and could be achieved without legislation.

“Disabled people face accessibility barriers in every aspect of our lives. Inaccessible buildings, information, transport and services impact on our rights, such as access to employment and housing, and on our health and wellbeing.

“Disabled people have been calling for years for laws to ensure accessibility, yet this Bill simply offers a committee which can make recommendations. We don’t need another report or committee. What we need is enforceable rights – a Bill with teeth.

“Our members have told us that they believe that this bill will, at best, make little difference to disabled people’s lives.

“Even worse is the fear it will actually slow down progress on accessibility. If there’s an expectation that every accessibility workstream across Government has to go through a single committee, progress will likely slow to a snail’s pace with everything bogged down in a bureaucratic bottle neck.

“There’s also a real risk that recommendations made by an advisory committee will simply not get actioned. Over the years there have been numerous reports making specific recommendations to improve accessibility, yet very few of these have ever been actioned by government.

“What is needed is needed is meaningful action on setting, updating or enforcing minimum standards of accessibility across a range of domains. This will require an independent crown entity to be set up to lead this work. An advisory committee is simply not an appropriate structure for this work.”

A recent United Nations report recommends addressing concerns about the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill by establishing a co-design and co-production process with Disabled People’s Organisations following release of the select committee’s report.

“DPA has made a submission to the select committee recommending the bill be redrafted via a genuine co-design and co-production process with disabled people, DPO’s and the wider disabled community, as recommended by the UN,” Ms Walker says.

DPA submission: DPA submission on the Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill [Word Doc]