Inclusion matters: access and empowerment of people of all abilities – Celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Sunday, 3rd December is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It is estimated that one in four Kiwis live with some form of disability, so we are all touched by the diversity that comes with disability. To help celebrate this day, thousands of bright orange wristbands with the words ‘Inclusion Matters’ on them have been sent to organisations throughout the country that are part of the campaign.

Disability Rights Commissioner, Paul Gibson says he is thrilled to be working with IHC, CCS Disability Action, People First and CUBE (disabled youth) who are all big supporters of this day of celebration and acknowledgement.

Many disabled people lead a rich, fulfilling life of work, family, sport and educational opportunities, but there is still a long way to go to bring those with disabilities into mainstream society. There is a need to make schools, businesses and workplaces more user-friendly, especially for wheel-chair bound Kiwis. I didn’t really understand how difficult getting around could be, until a family member ended up on crutches. All of a sudden, we noticed how few disabled persons car parks there were in the city and suburbs. Steps were narrow and steep. Shopping aisles were narrow. Doors were heavy and hard to open. We were fortunate, the foot mended and the crutches got returned to a mobility aids rental business (that had a heavy, push open door). I went home with a realization that what we had lived through for a short time was permanent for many people.

With more awareness and better building design, we are seeing much more diversity in the workplace and community, but there is still a long way to go.

It is interesting to see that over the years, the Paralympics are becoming more popular. More athletes competing, more spectators cheering the athletes on. More coverage on television so we can see how sporty they are. And I don’t know about you but, I enjoy the Paralympics more that the Olympics. I wonder how long I’ll have to wait to see persons with disabilities on television, film and stage. How long a wait to see an Oscar nomination and win?

Celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities

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Inclusion matters: access and empowerment of people of all abilities – Celebrating United Nations Day of Persons with Disabilities. View Full List »


Inclusion Matters

Inclusion matters posterWe all think we know what it means to have different capacities than everyone else to do everyday tasks… but do we really understand?

Ask yourself who you see when you think of somebody who has an impairment, a disability, someone who is differently abled?

Do you see a wheelchair, a crutch, a cane? Somebody who has a carer with them?

Or do you see somebody who looks just like you, who goes about their day just like you?

Nearly a quarter of the adult New Zealand population (21 percent) identifies in some way as disabled and for people over the age of 65 it increases to over half the population (59 percent) according to the Disability Survey for 2013. I don’t know about you but I don’t see all that many wheelchairs, crutches and canes. Most impairments are hidden. We may not notice them in everyday interactions. We need to be aware of the needs of others.

Just because you do not wear glasses and have no cane doesn’t mean you can see. You can be functionally blind but able to see just enough to navigate into and around buildings but unable to read signs and fill out forms or use self-service points. Somebody without a wheelchair or crutches may have muscular weakness which leaves them unable to stand for any length of time and unable to lift and carry luggage, groceries or shop purchases.

What do we do when we see somebody struggling?  Do we assume they are fine struggling on by themselves? Do we ask if they need help?

Better still do we build our buildings and service points with everyone in mind?

You may say we do we bear in mind wheelchair access by having light switches at a lower height and ramps but have they been test driven by someone in a wheelchair before your business opened? Only then will you know if you have thought of all the barriers and are truly barrier free. Do not forget it only takes one link in the chain to break to make all your efforts in vain.

On the 3rd of December it is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Time to include everyone because inclusion matters. We subtly exclude people when we focus on the impairment and not the ability. How can we support people to continue living their lives fully in society?

Have you ever seen people ignore somebody and talk to the person they came with? Would you like being spoken about as if you where not really there?

You may think you would never ignore somebody in this way but if you do not give consideration to everyone when you plan services, websites and buildings you are in effect ignoring and excluding a large part of the population. With that in mind Christchurch City Libraries strives to serve everyone. Let us know how we can improve and serve you better by contacting us.

Accessibility tips

Check out our page on help in using the library where you can find out about captioned DVDs, large print and talking books as well as our eResources including eBooks where you can change the font size. If you want help with using our library eResources come along to one of our computer drop in sessions.

New technologies especially in the field of communications have come a long way but not everyone has access to them. Mobile phones can help with vision impairments as an installed magnifying glass app can be a great help. Our library computers for public use also have some accessibility tools installed.

I have a tip for searching our library catalogue. Did you know you can search the catalogue for accessible formats?

Click on ‘Search’Search Button

Select ‘Accessible Formats’ from the  ‘All Formats’ dropdown list.

Select ‘Keyword’.

Enter your search word e.g. Lee Child, then click on the magnifying glass magnifying glass icon

Screenshot of catalogue search

Can you recommend any other useful apps or tips to help?

For more library resources about accessibility check out:

United Nations accessibility resources: