Access to Built Environment report launched for Christchurch recovery

Asia-Pacific, Built Environment, December 3 2012

NEW ZEALAND: MP Mojo Mathers launches a Commission report on how to improve accessibility and introduce universal design to New Zealand’s built environment in Christchurch today.

Better Design and Buildings for Everyone: Disabled People’s Rights and the Built Environment Book 1

Better Design and Buildings for Everyone: Disabled People’s Rights and the Built Environment is the first of a series of publications aimed at informing debate about disability issues. The publication summaries the Commission’s experience with access to the built environment, includes domestic and international law and standards and offers recommendations to improve accessibility in future.

Mojo Mathers said, “Christchurch can be a world leader in accessible design, and this report provides guidance for achieving that outcome.”

Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson said, “This is a timely report to inform the work of the Christchurch recovery. The goal we all share is for Christchurch to be the most sustainable and accessible city in the world. Inclusive access for all through universal design principles is closely aligned with this goal.”

He noted that the UN Committee that monitors economic, social and cultural rights had recommended that the New Zealand government adopt a human rights approach to reconstruction to “seize the opportunity… to apply designs which enable persons with disabilities access on an equal basis with others to the physical environment, facilities and services provided to the public.”

The report recommends that:

Priority is given to the application of the principles of universal design in the Christchurch reconstruction

The Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues sets accessibility issues as a priority, including to the built environment

The Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues begins a review of design standards for the built environment to strengthen accessibility requirements

The report was launched as part of the activities to acknowledge 3 December, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, when the United Nations asks all countries to consider ways to make the world a better place for disabled people. This year the international theme is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all.”

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