Position Statements

Our purpose is to enable people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision to be self-reliant and live the life they choose. Supporting our purpose statement on a fully accessible New Zealand, we also have a number of position statements on specific areas of accessibility, including access to information and communication, access to public transport and access to employment.

Read our position statements below to find out where we stand on these topics.

A blind man holding a folded white cane and a leash to a black guide dog. He is petting the dog's head while sitting on a bench in the park.

The Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill

The Government’s Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill (the Bill) does not go far enough. RNZFB Board and Blind Low Vision NZ plan to:

  • Make submissions to the Social Services and Community Select Committee on strengthening and broadening the scope of the Bill.
  • Encourage individuals and organisations to make submissions.
  • Continue to lobby all political parties to commit to broaden and strengthen the Bill.
  • Collaborate to accelerate New Zealand’s accessibility system.

Access to Equipment and Technology

Blind people and those with low vision are unable to use much of the equipment and technology that is widely available to perform everyday tasks.

The RNZFB Board believes that:

  • Equipment and technology in everyday use needs to enable self-reliance for those who are blind or have low vision.
  • Equipment and technology should be affordable and in some circumstances be government funded.

Access to Information and Communication

Less than 10% of published information generally available to the community is available also in a format that blind and low vision people can access.

The RNZFB Board believes that:

  • People who are blind or have low vision should have access to all information at the same cost and time as everyone else.
  • It should be mandatory that all organisations in New Zealand ensure that web-based information conforms to the New Zealand Government’s Web Accessibility Standard 1.0 and Web Usability Standard 1.2.
  • Legislated accessibility standards should be enforced in all sectors of the economy and community.

Access to Public Transport

Blind and low vision public transport users do not have the same access as sighted people do to bus, taxi, train, plane and ferry services.

The RNZFB Board believes that all public transport users, including those who are blind or have low vision, have the right to travel independently and safely.

Access to the Built Environment

Public spaces and buildings are not fully accessible for people who are blind or have low vision.

The RNZFB Board believes that:

  • The needs of all users of public buildings and spaces must be taken into account in developing infrastructure in New Zealand.
  • It is time to develop and legislate for a mandatory standard of access to public spaces and buildings.

Accessible Elections

The choice to vote independently and confidentially is not available to blind people and those with low vision.

The RNZFB Board believes that:

  • The telephone dictation voting trial that enabled blind people and those with low vision to participate in the 2014 general election should be available also for Local Government elections and referenda.
  • Electronic voting in general elections, local government elections and referenda should be available in time for the general election in 2020.

Quiet Vehicles

The low level of noise of new quiet vehicles presents a significant safety problem for people who are blind or who have low vision.

The RNZFB Board believes that all people have the right to cross roads at pedestrian crossings and negotiate carparks and other shared spaces without the hazards presented by quiet vehicles.



Access to Employment

People who are blind or who have low vision want to contribute to the labour market, but there are barriers to them achieving their aspirations.

The RNZFB Board believes that:

  • Blind people and those with low vision should have access to job opportunities equal to everyone else. To achieve this, funding and processes for supporting disabled people into work need to be modified to reflect the changing age of the workforce, the need for more flexible working hours and specialised types of support in the workplace.
  • Government needs to regulate to create the conditions for a more inclusive workplace that favours employing blind people and those with low vision. Employing disabled people benefits both disabled people and the economy.

Access to Braille Literacy and Numeracy

Some New Zealanders with sight loss may not have the choice to learn braille and develop braille literacy and numeracy skills.

The RNZFB Board believes that:

  • The teaching and production of braille must comply with the Braille Authority of New Zealand Aotearoa Trust (BANZAT) standards.
  • Access to electronic braille equipment needs to be more readily available and affordable.
  • People who are blind or who have low vision need to have the choice to develop braille competency, access convenient and affordable equipment for reading and writing braille, and have access in braille to information that is available to the sighted public in electronic and print formats.

Foot paths and Shared Spaces

Public spaces that are inaccessible cannot accurately be described as ‘public’.

The RNZFB Board believes that:

  • Pedestrians who are blind or have low vision must have safe access to shared spaces.
  • The guideline for shared space design should always be followed when planning these spaces.
  • Signage around shared spaces should clearly indicate correct behaviour for motorists and pedestrians.

Coloured Footpath and Roadway Art

The use of coloured footpath and roadway art is an increasing trend in Aotearoa New Zealand. Waka Kotahi consulted an external accessibility consultant on the impact of footpath and roadway art for travellers with access needs.  However, the draft guideline doesn’t consider the health and safety issues for pedestrians with vision loss.  Pedestrians with low vision may view the art as an obstacle such as a hole in the ground. There is a risk of causing distress, disorientation and potential injury as a result.


A shot from the waist down of a man navigating a city footpath with a white cane.