Tuesday, July 5, 2011

In New Zealand, Disabled Persons Assembly launches Accessible Christchurch project, a campaign promoting needs of disabled people in rebuilt city

From The Press in New Zealand. Pictured is the cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, 2004. © Photo by BA Haller.

Disabled Christchurch residents will be asked to share their vision for the city to help attract international tourists.

Advocacy group Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA) yesterday launched the Accessible Christchurch project, a campaign promoting the needs of disabled people in a rebuilt city.

Co-ordinator Pam MacNeill said the opportunity provided by the city's rebuilding, rezoning and redevelopment had "major implications" for disabled people.

"Our vision is for Christchurch to be a destination for disabled international tourists. At the moment, that is Vancouver [in Canada], but we would like it to be Christchurch," she said.

MacNeill said up to 20 per cent of people worldwide had a disability and encouraging those people to visit Christchurch would be mutually beneficial.

The DPA, which had Ministry of Social Development funding for the project, would hold a series of forums in Christchurch in July and October.

The first series would seek feedback from the disabled, and the second would discuss the findings.

Obvious issues were wheelchair access, international signage, and audible and tactile buzzers at traffic lights.

As part of the campaign, the DPA would meet the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, government agencies and societies representing the disabled in New Zealand.

"We think we can use this opportunity to make the city better," she said.