Taryn Banks works in the Policy and Advocacy team and is part of the Access Matters campaign. She tells us about her role, the next phase of the campaign, and how we can get involved.

Tell us a bit about your role with the Access Matters campaign?

My role with the Access Matters Campaign is to work with our grassroots advocates and supporters. These are often people who have lived experienced of disability and personal experience of the systematic barriers that prevent one in four Kiwis from fully participating in society. Their stories are really powerful and engaging them in campaigning in their communities is a way for them to collectively to be part of creating a fairer and more inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.

What were your motivations for joining Blind & Low Vision NZ, and the Access Matters campaign?

I met Dianne Rogers, General Manager Policy and Advocacy, three years ago when in my previous role at Auckland Deaf Society. She presented the campaign objectives to the Deaf community and I was immediately struck with how important this is for disabled and Deaf people. Working in the disability sector makes you aware of the gaps in the current legal frameworks. Not only could I see the logic in the kaupapa of the campaign but I was awestruck by Dianne’s passion and commitment. When I saw the role advertised I didn’t have to think twice. I feel massively privileged to be part of this work.

When would you like to see Accessibility Legislation introduced in New Zealand? Are you surprised that it has taken New Zealand so long to get to this point?

Now is the time for Accessibility Legislation. Every day the goes by without this legislation is a day that one in four Kiwis struggle to do what most of us take for granted.

I think that this has taken so long because most New Zealanders including those in Government assume the laws we have already provide accessibility, but in reality people with lived experience of disability still have to face unnecessary barriers every day­­­­­­­­.

Why is it essential that this law is passed? ­­­­

Currently, the onus to address a barrier sits with the user, meaning the disabled individual. The process of addressing inequity is a long, arduous, often complex and emotionally challenging ordeal. Imagine having to take this on as an individual when you are challanging an organisation which is bigger and much better resourced. Accessibility Legislation redresses that power imbalance.

Give us a progress update of where things are at?

Our dream of Accessibility Legislation in this parliamentary term is a real possibility which is why we have recently launched #AccessLaw2020 Action plan.

What can we do to support the campaign?

Yay! I’m glad you asked! We need politicians of all stripes, across government and the opposition to hear our collective call for #AccessLaw2020. You can do this in several ways. You can visit your local MP and we can support you through this process. You can use social media to show your support and encourage your friends, whanua and networks to do the same. We have resources on our website, like our social media tool kit, or you can contact me – TBanks@BlindLowVision.org.nz.