An open letter will be delivered to the Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni today, urging the government to introduce a robust and enforceable Accessibility Act.

The letter, as part of the Access Alliance’s Access Matters campaign, calls on all political parties to commit to the introduction of accessibility legislation, including enforceable accessibility standards.

Aine Kelly-Costello, who is blind, helped launch the open letter five months ago. She says the buses she travels on don’t have audio announcements to tell her which stop is next, which means she has to spend more time planning and reminding the driver where to stop.

Kelly-Costello and others will share their personal stories as evidence of the need for a new accessibility act.

“One in four Kiwis are disabled. If it’s not you, it’s someone in your whānau or a friend or colleague.

“It’s time to build on the Labour Party’s pre-election commitment toward introducing disability legislation.”

Excerpt from the letter:

“One in four Kiwis have a disability and face barriers in their day-to-day lives – many of which involve accessing buildings and public spaces, using public transport, or accessing information and services. For those of us with disabilities, and those who support us, we know first hand that these barriers prevent us from reaching our full potential in education and employment, including income.

Nearly every New Zealander will have permanent or temporary access needs some time in our lives, especially as we get older. Every day, 1.1 million New Zealanders face access barriers.

The longer-term gains for New Zealand of breaking down these barriers are significant but only part of the equation. More importantly, providing the means for equal opportunity and participation for all New Zealanders is the right thing to do.

Some good things are happening already to improve accessibility, but we need a law change to ensure everyone benefits from an accessible NZ and to improve awareness around disability.”

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