Capital rises to access challenge
Wellington’s hills may be an accessibility nightmare but local businesses are making it their imperative to help more people move around the city.
The Wellington City Council has funded a number of organisations to get assessed by Be Accessible, a social enterprise that focuses on raising awareness of disability and helping organisations better provide for people with access needs.
Be Welcome programme co-ordinator Kylie Shirtliff said Wellington organisations have been ‘‘remarkably committed’’ to making changes.
One of those is Government House, which added accessible car parks, provided alternative languages for brochures and altered toilet facilities as well as confirming that a hearing loop will be added to its film theatre, she said.
Hills are a feature of the Wellington Zoo and one of the main concerns when it first started looking at accessibility.
The zoo’s general manager of community engagement, Amy Hughes, said Be Accessible helped the zoo realise that having hills did not mean it couldn’t do other things to improve access.
This included adding ramps adding handles to seating.
Hughes said it was about doing the right thing for visitors.
‘‘We need to be as accessible as possible to all members of our community including those with different needs.’’
The Wellington Cable Car has been involved with Be Accessible since 2011 and and received a gold organisation last year.
Passenger services manager Matthew Hardy said even though the service started in 1979, it was well ahead of its time and has not needed big changes.
They have upgraded a terminal and are redesigning the ticket booth, as well as looking to change the lighting at the lower terminal to decrease glare.
‘‘By focusing on all of our customer needs, of which accessibility is a part, we obviously make the experience both rating from the more appealing and more accessible to everyone,’’ Hardy said.
Shirtliff said Parliamentary Services has made 12 changes in favour of access, including captioning videos, adding New Zealand Sign Language options to tours and installing tactical indicators where there is a gradient change.
It was awarded a silver rating in 2014 which has been upgraded to gold.
‘‘[The council] … are remarkably committed to making real change,’’ Shirtliff said.
The Wellington Cable Car was built ahead of its time and has not needed major changes to become more accessible.