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Accessibility and Disability in Aotearoa: Te Whanganui-a-Tara - January 2023

1 in 4 New Zealanders have a physical, sensory, learning, or mental health impairment. People with disabilities make meaningful contributions in our community, but the world is not designed for disabled people and many misperceptions of disability remain. We all have a role to play in identifying and removing barriers to enable everyone to have choice and control in their lives, and to achieve their goals.

So what would it take to advance a disability-inclusive Aotearoa?

We teamed up with Everybody Cool Lives Here for our first event for 2023 in Te Whanganui-a-Tara to host a panel on accessibility and disability, with a focus on the arts. We were joined by Bailee Lobb, Sam Morgan (Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki), and Dunc Armstrong, and the kōrero was facilitated by Jesse Austin-Stewart.

The hui began with a discussion of what disability and accessibility mean, and how these intersect with other aspects of the panelists’ identities as well as their practices. We then looked at some of the wider issues of accessibility within Aotearoa and the arts, and some of the barriers that the speakers have come across that need to be addressed.

Key takeaways from the hui are that we need to acknowledge that the world is built by and for people with disabilities, and that everyone doesn’t have the same opportunities. Everyone has the power to change things and to create space to normalise discussion of accessibility and disability issues! Accessibility is often an afterthought, and we all need to make it a priority to ask people what their access needs are.

You can check out a recording of the full hui below (NZSL available).

How to take the kaupapa forward

You can continue learning:

You can show up:

  • Participate in NZSL Week, which will take place between May 9th and May 15th 2023.

  • Attend events to support artists in the disability community, like Big J by Jacob Dombroski and Everybody Cool Lives Here, as well as Touch Compass

  • Follow disability activists and tags on social media, such as Carly Findlay, Nine Tame, Andrew Gurza, Chloe Hayden, Cathy Reay, Amy Claire Mills, and #disabilityreads

  • Support local businesses run by members of the disability community and organisations like Arts Access Aotearoa

  • Follow content creators on Youtube like Jessica Kellgren Fozard, Stevei Boebi, and Hannah Whitton

You can engage with decision-makers:

  • Advocate for accessibility in your workplace or organisation by:

    • Asking people their access needs and advocating that this question and meeting access needs become a normal part of engaging with others

    • Actively looking for inaccessibility and pointing it out to management, be it people leaders or building management (e.g., not enough room between bays of desk, environment too noisy, lots of jargon or acronyms used)

  • Engage with Council on accessibility and inclusion


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