Kāpiti Chamber Co-chair, Monique Leith has met with Hon Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Disability Issues, to advocate for much needed accessibility legislation, drawing on her lived experiences as a business owner and leader.
Accessibility is not just about disabled people, over half a million New Zealanders encounter barriers as family caregivers of the disabled, elderly or children. The Government and all the Parliamentary parties are committed to accelerate accessibility through new legislation and regulations in the next two years. Currently, no laws or framework exists. Monique met with the Minister as part of Access Alliance to feed into the new law framework.
Monique Leith, Chamber Co-Chair, says accessibility legislation could make a real difference. She spoke to Minister Sepuloni about her experience as a hearing-impaired business owner and resource management planner, potential hurdles and how the Government could engage with the business community.
Monique Leith, Chamber Co-Chair, says accessibility legislation could make a real difference. She spoke to Minister Sepuloni about her experience as a hearing-impaired business owner and resource management planner, potential hurdles and how the Government could engage with business.
“I visited Washington a few years ago and had a taste of how great accessibility can be with clear visual signs, sign language interpreters and live captioning services readily accessible amongst other services. It was liberating but highlighted to me that New Zealand does have some way to go. Like many Kiwis with access needs, I have developed strategies to overcome the barriers I face daily.
“25% percent of customers are likely to have accessibility needs, and 15 to 20% of employees are likely to be neurodiverse. My fellow Board and Chamber Members have been supportive in learning of my access needs and what hinders me in going about my business day. For example, until recently I couldn’t make phone calls, and I need to use an online meeting platform that has a captioning feature. This makes people aware of potential customers that can’t call or participate in a Zoom session and how they as business-owners are making themselves accessible to those customers.
“My experiences have shown me that the business community really do want to be inclusive and accessible. There are simple things people can do to reach a new loyal customer base and expand their business potential,” says Monique Leith.
Chrissie Cowan, Chief Executive, Kāpō Māori Aotearoa and Chair of the Access Alliance, says they know from their engagement businesses want to do the right thing for their customers and employees, but they’re just not sure how to.
“Accessibility legislation will be realised over time. The Access Alliance has made it clear that you can’t have legislation without awareness, education, and support for organisations. Our first priority is to work with the disability sector to ensure that people with disabilities get access to goods, products, services, and facilities like everyone else. We continue to advise the government that business has to be at the table early to design effective accessibility legislation,” says Chrissie Cowan.
More information about the Framework to accelerate progress towards accessibility in Aotearoa New Zealand is available here.
The Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce exists to advance the economy by creating wealth and employment and solve local business issues by providing a collective voice for business in Kāpiti. Over 300 members in Kāpiti belong to the Kāpiti Coast Chamber of Commerce to stay connected, network and gain knowledge and support from our local membership.