TEAM FOCUS: WELLINGTON CITY COUNCIL, ACCESIBILITY

By enabling further accessibility Wellington City can shape into more of an inclusive and easier space for everyone to live within. Improving this accessibility will allow more people to participate in all aspects of city life and New Zealand’s capital can continue to remain an attractive location to residents and visitors of any age and ability.

The Wellington City Council project is developing this access for people to further enjoy an inclusive and socially responsible city, in which all people are able to participate to the fullest.

We took a moment to talk with the team from WCC to learn more about the progress they have been making over the last few weeks.

 

What are you working on?

Wellington is currently not accessible to all people, particularly those with disabilities who are not able to participate fully in city life. 1 in 4 people have a disability or impairment, that’s 114,000 people in the Wellington Region. It’s a big problem that needs to be solved, especially with an aging population, the numbers will only grow.

The purpose of the project is to create and provide solutions to make Wellington City accessible, to allow everyone to participate in city activities e.g going to work, social events, physical activities etc.

 

What is the project all about?

We have spoken to people with disabilities and they told us the problems they experience in Wellington. There were a whole array of problems experienced by a variety of disabilities. These ranged from issues with the built environment such as streets, pavements and buildings, to the accessibility of information online and access to New Zealand Sign Language Interpreters for work or events.

There are currently lots of organisations, different Council teams, businesses and people doing their part to make Wellington accessible. The problem is that there are gaps in provision and standards are not always as thorough as they should be. We want to provide a space where all these work together to improve what’s considered a good standard of accessibility and we want to ensure they work together so that there are no gaps in accessibility provision. It will be a place where people with a variety of needs and disabilities can visit with ease and confidence knowing that it will be fully accessible.

We are also looking at information about accessibility and how we can provide it in an accessible way. We would like to provide useful information to people that may help inform their day about where they go, what they find there for accessibility and how they get there. This information sits in a variety of different places currently and is not always accessible.

 

What difference will the project make to NZ public sector?

The fully ‘Accessible Space’ within the city and the ‘Accessible Wellington’ website once created will form a template of how accessibility can be carried out to a high standard. It will be replicated in other areas of the city, but can also be applied in other places in New Zealand or Internationally.

 

What are you hoping to achieve by the end of Lighting Lab GovTech?

We want to develop something that will help people with disabilities and other accessibility needs to make their lives easier.  The solutions being developed will not only help those with disabilities but also parents with pushchairs, the elderly and tourists etc.

The concepts developed are just a starting point and can grow over time to make the entire city accessible, with all the accessible information needed in one place. If the entire city was fully accessible everyone would be able to fully participate in every aspect of life to the fullest.

 

What are you looking forward the most during your time in Lightning Lab GovTech Accelerator?

In the first stage of the project, we went and interviewed 40 people with disabilities and impairments. We have enjoyed speaking to a whole variety of people with different backgrounds about their experiences of Wellington. Now we have some solutions we want to test, we are looking forward to speaking with those people again to gain further feedback.

Having a high level of involvement from those in the disability community has been a real asset to this project and we look forward to keeping the conversation flowing as the project progresses.

 


 

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