Published 28 November 2005
Auckland City Council will celebrate the United Nations International Day of Disabled Persons with a Mission accessible event – and something more down to earth, the launch of the publication Access Auckland: an access map for Auckland‘s cbd – on Thursday 1 December.
The council’s disability issues advisory group will follow those events up by hosting a forum on urban design on Tuesday 13 December.
Mission accessible will include a wheelchair user abseiling down a 13-storey building and a blind person walking a high wire as teams from the council, Vodafone, AUT & IBM compete in an Amazing race-style contest.
The access map will highlight mobility carparks, accessible toilets, phones & ATMs and the steepness of streets, among other details.
“Disabled people are not the only ones to benefit from this map. It will also provide valuable information for older people and parents with young children,” council disability advisor Minnie Baragwanath said.
The Access Auckland map will be one of the tools teams can use in the Mission accessible event, in which they have to complete a series of challenges around the central city. The teams must have a combination of disabled & non-disabled members and must include members of senior management. The council team will include a number of councillors.
The event will begin with 28-year-old wheelchair user Justine Hunter abseiling down the Mercure Hotel: “I will definitely be nervous abseiling down that massive building, but I passionately believe in accessibility so I’m prepared to do it. A disabled person can find it really difficult to get around a city and anything that makes streets, buildings or opportunities more accessible makes such a difference.
“Disabled people just want the chance to participate in every part of life and I’d just urge businesses & other organisations to think about that,” she said.
Clive Lansink, who has been blind since birth, will walk a high wire at the Auckland Art Gallery: “Just getting into a cafÃ© past a footpath crowded with tables, chairs & sandwich boards can be a bit like walking a tightrope for a blind or vision-impaired person, so I’m sure I’ll take this challenge in my stride,” he said.
Mission accessible programme:
11.45am, performance by Touch Compass dance troupe in QE2 Square
Noon, wheelchair abseil down the Mercure Hotel, above QE2 Square
12.10pm, teams leave to complete challenges around the central city
1pm, high-wire traverse at the Auckland City Art Gallery
2pm, teams arrive at AUT campus.
Urban design forum
The council’s disability issues advisory group will host a forum on Tuesday 13 December (10am-2pm, Western Springs Garden Hall, 956 Great North Rd, Western Springs) to discuss good urban design and the importance of making homes, businesses, transport & open spaces universally accessible & safe.
Presenters from various councils around the region and independent consultants from the disability sector will discuss what’s needed to ensure buildings, streets, transport & open spaces are more accessible.
Ms Baragwanath said that according to the 1996 & 2001 census results, one in 5 people between 16-64 are disabled, and the proportion increases to one in 2 in the over-65 age bracket. “Our population is aging and the Auckland region must plan to meet the access needs of its people,” she said.
This forum is designed for interested professionals from the private & public sectors. It will also involve key representatives from the disabled community, such as advisory groups & consultants who work closely with council staff.