Mary Fisher wants to see accessibility law at the heart of a more inclusive Aotearoa.
Fisher, a blind swimmer and postgrad student, is one of a number of representatives from the Access Alliance who have been meeting with MPs and Ministers over the past three weeks campaigning for a robust and enforceable Accessibility Act to pass into New Zealand law.
Grassroots campaigners from Warkworth to Nelson have also been meeting with their local MPs and delivering booklets full of stories about the barriers faced daily by people living with a disability.
And progress is slowly taking shape. There is a high degree of cross-party support for accessibility legislation, including more recent backing from National. There is now a Parliamentary Champions for Accessibility Legislation (PCAL) Group with MPs from all parties except Act. The group has met with Access Alliance twice.
“After attending the second meeting myself, I can confidently say this is a highly supportive team taking action to accelerate the path for accessibility legislation to become a reality in New Zealand,” says Fisher.
Fisher also attended the Access Alliance meeting with Minister for Employment, Hon Willie Jackson and shared her story about losing her sight as a teenager.
“At the time, an older blind friend told me it was easier to become a lawyer who was blind than a shop assistant. The Minister understood that we need to proactively remove barriers to employment for young disabled people as well as educate workplaces, and he told me he supports accessibility legislation.”
Access Alliance has plans in the works to bring more of these stories to Parliament, so is requesting people to submit their stories on the Access Matters website.