Mike Gourley outside Radio New Zealand house on The Terrace in Wellington.
“ Why would you disenfranchise a fifth of your population? It doesn’t make sense.” - Wellington’s former Deputy Mayor, Ian McKinnon.
Producer and presenter Mike Gourley has for many years been an advocate for a fully accessible environment that fully includes disabled people – which means, among other things, a built environment, including bars, cafes and other public facilities, that enable mobility and sensory impaired people to actively enjoy what’s on offer to others.
This means ground level entry handy to parking spaces, signage that visually impaired people can read, information that intellectually or learning impaired people can process and understand, mobile phones or ATMs that blind people can use. In other words, access isn’t just about wheelchair users.
Mike says it’s fair to say that he understood this, socially and politically – but with the deformed arms he’d had from birth, it was doors and door handles that could be a problem he’d experience personally on occasion. That was until he had a major stroke three years ago, which robbed him of the mobility he’d taken for granted.
So it was from this fresh perspective that Mike thought he’d revisit the issue of access to the built environment, the efforts made to achieve an accessible society, and pursue an underlying question: Is the best way to achieve improved accessibility better done through the enforcement of regulation and standards, or through changing public attitudes and increasing the understanding that by providing a more accessible environment, everyone benefits through increased customer satisfaction, business success, employment opportunities, thereby lessening welfare dependency.
In this programme Mike talks with Vivian Naylor, a barrier free advisor to CCS Disability Action; Bill Wrightson, a long-term barrier free expert and advocate; Elizabeth St. John Ives, an accessibility adviser with Wellington City Council; and Office for Disability Issues director, Megan McCoy, who talks about the review of access to the built environment and how its conclusions and recommendations will be distilled and fed into the Government’s Disability Action Plan.
More about the guests in this programme
Bill Wrightson is a long-term barrier free expert and advocate and accessibility consultant.
Vivian Naylor is a barrier free advisor to CCS Disability Action.
Left: Grand opening of a revamped Ellerslie Station on the Auckland network on which Vivian Naylor was consulted. Dignitaries include our Mayor, local MP, councillors and local board member, AT managers and reps
from the companies involved in the revamp.
Right: Unveiling event of the new electric trains in Auckland. In the low trailer carriage it was demonstrated how two wheelchairs and three bicycles could be easily accommodated whilst still leaving room for other passengers to walk past. The disability sector was involved at the embryo stage of this project, covering mobility and sensory issues, to see how that model worked. Every effort has been made to make the carriages as accessible and useable as possible within the limitations of adding a new train to the existing platform network.
Listen to a longer version of the interview with Vivian Naylor
Elizabeth St. John Ives, accessibility adviser with Wellington City Council, speaks positively about using a non-government initiative, Be. Accessible, to help audit the Wellington City CBD’s and assess the quality of accessible facilities. Be. Accessible was launched in Auckland over three years ago, and is one of a suite of initiatives that are part of the Be. Institute, namely: Be. Accessible, Be. Leadership, Be. Welcome, and Be. Employed. The initiative is the brainchild of founding Be. chief executive, Minnie Baragwanath and her team at Be.
Be. Accessible. Right: Be. chief executive, Minnie Baragwanath
The Office for Disability Issues director, Megan McCoy, talks about the recent review of access to the built environment, instigated by the office, in conjunction with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, what the review found, how its conclusions and recommendations will be distilled and fed into the Government’s Disability Action Plan which is being developed and overseen by the Ministerial Committee on Disability Issues.
Mike's journey from The Terrace to Lambton Quay