Monday, April 28, 2008

New Zealand town considers better urban design for people with disabilities

A forum before the Manukau City Council in New Zealand allowed for better understanding of the needs of people with disabilities in city planning and development projects, the New Zealand Herald reported April 25.

A Manukau resident, who was paralyzed in an accident in 1998, advocated for urban designs that better cater to disabled people.

"It's little things like just having a flush doorway and not a lip - just a flat, smooth surface for the wheelchair to go over," said Tanu Toso, the chairperson for Pasifika Prevention Aukilana. "Urban design right now is based around cars. Roads are wider, making the footpaths narrower, meaning there's less space for wheelchairs, mobility scooters and even parents walking their kids to school."

Toso said the forum allows policy-makers to hear first-hand from disabled people affected by their policies, and he added that improved access for disabled people is still needed in the wider Auckland region.