Cap­i­tal rises to ac­cess chal­lenge

The Dominion Post - - World - TAO LIN

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.

PHOTO: JOHN NI­CHOL­SON/FAIR­FAX NZ

The Welling­ton Cable Car was built ahead of its time and has not needed ma­jor changes to be­come more ac­ces­si­ble.

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