Accessible Wellington

The Accessible Journey Action Plan

May 2019











Foreword by Justin Lester, Mayor of Wellington. 3

Foreword by AAG Chairs. 4

Introduction. 5

Legislation. 6

National policy. 6

Links to the Council direction. 7

Connected city. 7

Working with the community. 8

Key data. 8

How accessible is Wellington?. 9

The Focus of this Action Plan. 10

Overall aspirational goals. 12

2019-22 Accessible Action Plan – Key Actions. 15

Action 1: Accessibility in Strategic Planning. 15

Action 2: Access to Information. 15

Action 3: Accessible Spaces. 17

Action 4: Accessibility Reviews. 18

Action 5: Gathering feedback on accessibility. 20

Action 6:  Urban Design. 21

Action 7: Mobility parking. 22

Action 8:  Accessible Navigation. 23

Action 9: Accessible Democracy. 24

Ongoing Actions. 26

Action Plan 2023 onwards. 27

Action Plan on a Page. 28

International Case Studies and further reading. 29

Seattle: AccessMap the sidewalk mapping app. 29

EU Access City Awards. 29

Bibliography. 32

Definitions. 33


Foreword by Justin Lester, Mayor of Wellington

Wellington is a city where many people want to live. We want to welcome everyone and ensure the city’s attractions are available to everyone.

With steep hills and narrow streets, it’s not the easiest place to get around, and it is even more challenging for those with mobility issues, whether due to disability, age or having young children in prams and pushchairs.

However, with planning and forethought we can include everyone in all aspects of city life. This is important because we are the capital city and should be at the forefront of accessibility planning and design.

We have a unique opportunity to lead the way for other cities in taking an accessibility-friendly approach to accessibility development.

Last year we had our first Wellington Accessibility Awards, which recognised businesses, initiatives and people who help make the city more accessible.

Some are taking up the challenge themselves but we need a city-wide approach if we want to really be the people-centred capital we aspire to be.

And it’s the little things such as street furniture, accessible signage and seating that combine with the larger aspects, such as footpath and road design and public transport features that will make all the difference.

As Mayor of Wellington, I fully support this Accessible Wellington action plan and look forward to the positive change it makes.


Foreword by AAG Chairs

As the current co-chairs of the Accessibility Advisory Group we welcome the Accessible Wellington Action Plan. We see it as a positive step ahead for many different journeys, the journey we as disabled people make through Wellington city and one for Wellington City Council as they explore new ways of understanding accessibility and how to work with the disability community.

The Accessible Journey is a very important one for disabled people as it impacts our ability to participate as Wellingtonians. It enables us to access education, employment and health services.  It also allows us to participate and for us to be socially involved. It also affects our ability to be contributing citizens.

This Accessible Wellington Action Plan is being released at the same time as a world-wide wave of heightened awareness of the responsibility local government agencies have towards establishing accessible environments as part of their role in creating sustainable cities and communities. 

It is a living document. We look forward to seeing it evolve.

Gratitude must go to Michael Bealing, Nick Ruane, Alice Bates, Crispian Franklin and Geoff Lawson who were instrumental in the development of this action plan.

Tristram Ingham and Rachel Noble



We want all people in Wellington to be able to participate in all aspects of city life on an equal basis.

This means providing accessible services, communication channels, facilities, transport options, and buildings and public spaces to help make Wellington more accessible and inclusive for everyone.

Improving the city’s accessibility will make it more inclusive and help the city remain attractive to residents and visitors of any age and ability.

Approximately 24% of people in New Zealand have a disability. This is much higher for people over 65 years of age, with 59% of people having some kind of disability. Physical limitations are the most common type of impairment (Stats NZ). There are also 3,500 mobility card holders in Wellington, most being over the age of 65.

Parents with young children can also have negative experiences if the city is not built with accessibility in mind. In 2017 there were 6,057 births in the Wellington region (Stats NZ), which provides an indication of the number of people travelling with pushchairs and soon-to-be young children who need providing for.

We want to build on our reputation as an inclusive and socially responsible city that is accessible, safe and easy to get around and where all people can participate in city life and have a say about its future.

This plan is to act as our guide and will enhance people’s independence and ability to participate, engage in, and benefit from, key Council services.

The plan sets out specific actions, will include measurable criteria, such as timeframes and action owners, and is a starting point for both coordinating what the Council is already doing and recommending key actions for the next three years. This is considered to be a living document, and over time, additional actions may be included.



New Zealand ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)[1] in 2008. The Convention is a key document in the area of accessibility.

The purpose of the Convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.’

The Convention is important as it clarifies the rights of persons with disabilities and sets out responsibilities to respect those rights. The Convention promotes accessible social development and has been described as a human rights treaty and a development tool.

The New Zealand Disability Strategy (NZDS) was guided by the principles of the UNCRPD.  The Council supports the achievement of the goals of the Convention and its Optional Protocol (A/RES/61/106).

National policy

The New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026 has identified eight outcomes which contribute towards making New Zealand a non-disabling society. Outcome 5 relates to Accessibility - We access all places, services and information with ease and dignity. The Strategy sets out what “our future looks like and what needs to happen” for Outcome 5. This is that:

·        ‘We have access to warm, safe and affordable housing that meets our needs and enables us to make choices about where we go to school or work and to fully participate as members of our families, whānau and communities.

·        We can get from one place to another easily and safely, for example from home to school, work or to a friend’s house. We can also access all public buildings, spaces and facilities with dignity and on an equal basis with others.

·        We feel safe taking public transport to get around and are treated well when we do so. Our needs are also appropriately considered when planning for new transport services. Private transport services are responsive to and inclusive of us. For those of us who need it, there is access to specific transport options that are affordable, readily available and easy to use.

·        Information and communications are easy for us to access in formats and languages that are right for us, including in our country’s official languages of Te Reo Māori and New Zealand Sign Language. This helps us to be independent because we do not have to rely on other people. We use technology on the same basis as everyone else; those of us who need specific technology solutions will have access to these in a way that is innovative, progressive and helps to eliminate barriers. The evolving opportunities presented by new technology helps us to achieve our goals.

·        Our accessible communities are free of barriers (for example, access to shops, banks, entertainment, churches, parks, and so on), which enables us to participate and contribute on an equal basis with non-disabled people.’

Links to the Council direction

This Action Plan aligns to our Towards 2040: Smart City strategy – and links closely to the following two pillars:

People-centred city

Wellington's people-centred city will be healthy, vibrant, affordable and resilient, with a strong sense of identity and 'place'. This will be expressed through urban form, openness and accessibility for its current and future populations.

Connected city

As a connected city, Wellington's people, places and ideas access networks - regionally, nationally and globally. Connections are

·          physical - allowing for ease of movement of people and goods.

·          virtual - in the form of world-class ICT infrastructure.

·          social - allowing people to connect to each other and their communities.

The approach outlined in this action plan also aligns with the Positive Ageing Policy, Central City Framework, and the Wellington Urban Growth Plan 2014-2043.

It also aligns to existing work streams – including the Let’s Get Wellington Moving programme of work and the updated urban growth plan Planning for Growth being developed.

Working with the community

The Council’s Accessibility Advisory Group has guided the development of this plan. Parents with pushchairs, seniors, those temporarily injured, the disability community, and carers in Wellington were also consulted during the development of this plan. 

Key data

Figures from Stats NZ show that 22% of people in the Wellington Region have an impairment. Mobility impairments are the most common in the region followed by hearing and agility.


Title: Wellington Region peecentage of population with impairments - Description: Memory
Learning 4 percent
Speaking 2 percent
Psychiatric or psychological 5 percent
Intellectual 1 percent
Agility 6 percent
Mobility 11 percent
Seeing 3 percent
Hearing 7 percent

Disabilities are more common in the over 65s, with Pacific Peoples experiencing the sharpest increase in that age range.



How accessible is Wellington?

Mobility is the most common form of impairment in Wellington. People with mobility impairments find it more difficult to travel to and through the city, and are more impacted by a poor or unreliable transport network and construction works occurring on roads and footpaths.

While many areas of Wellington are highly accessible, Wellington is experiencing strong population growth resulting in more city development (and associated construction disruption), and construction relating to the earthquake.prone building strengthening programme is also impacting on the overall accessibility of the city.

Additionally, the Lets Get Wellington Moving programme of work will also see construction occurring in the central city and along key arterial routes for many years into the future.

Considering that mobility is the most common form of impairment, and key areas of the city will see higher levels of construction disruption for the foreseeable future, additional survey work was carried out to better understand accessibility issues.

The survey was targeted towards those with a disability, older people and parents with young children and asked for feedback on a journey they regularly take and how difficult or easy this is for them.

Out of the 577 survey responses:

·        82% of survey respondents experience difficulties during a trip they take regularly.

·        Most people who completed the survey are travelling around Wellington on foot, followed by bus or driving. Respondents experienced the most difficulty with pavements in the city.

·        36% of respondents considered that accessibility in Wellington has remained about the same over the last five year period. However, around a third (30%) believe it has become better (6%) or much better (24%).

·        Just under half (42%) of respondents thought Wellington was either accessible (33%) or very accessible (9%).

·        16% of respondents also reported that pavements are the most positive part of a journey followed by good public transport. This shows when pavements are or aren’t accessible it makes a big impact on the ease of a person’s journey.

This sets the scene for a positive action plan to continue to address the issues of accessibility and to enable participation in city life.


The Focus of this Action Plan

The New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016 includes a description of an accessible future where “we can get from one place to another easily and safely, for example from home to school, work or to a friend’s house. We can also access all public buildings, spaces and facilities with dignity and on an equal basis with others”.

This ‘accessible journey’ has been used as a way to visualise chronologically the accessibility tasks of users. It highlights potential opportunities and points of contacts with the Council. The journeys which people carry out on a daily basis such as going to the shops, attending an event or visiting friends are important to enable everyone to participate in city life.

The barriers to the accessible journey for disabled people cover information about services, arranging a service, getting from home to the pick-up point, using the service to go to a destination and returning home. (The Accessible Journey: Human Rights Commission, 2005)

New Zealand Building Code Clause D1 Access Routes defines an ‘accessible route’ as;

An access route usable by people with disabilities. It shall be a continuous route that can be negotiated unaided by a wheelchair user. The route shall extend from street boundary or car parking area to those spaces within the building required to be accessible to enable people with disabilities to carry out normal activities and processes within the building.

The Action Plan builds on the ‘Accessible Journey’ concept that was chosen with the Accessibility Advisory Group (AAG). For the purposes of this action plan the accessible journey will be a broader definition that is a combination of the two above. It will not be limited to arriving at a building or place and then use of and movement within the building or place. An accessible journey also includes:

·        all the decisions made early in the journey through to the destination.

·        how information is sourced about travel.

·        the accessibility of the building or place.

In this way, the complete journey is understood and the barriers to access are identified.


Overall aspirational goals


All people, residents and visitors, are confident accessing the information they need to participate in Wellington city life, they are able to get to and from all venues and use the service at a destination with ease

Access to Information

There is easy access to information about the Council and business services, entertainment, hospitality, events, education and recreation. 

What this will look like:

·        People can find information in an accessible format about the accessibility of the venue, facilities or event - and how to get there and back.

·        Information on the Council websites is in an accessible format and compliant with the NZ Standards: Web Accessibility Standard 1.0 and Web Usability Standard 1.2, and amendments.

·        All tourist attractions, hospitality venues, hotels, restaurants and cafés publish statements on venue accessibility.

·        Greater Wellington Regional Council and other transport stakeholders have accessibility information publicly available for their transport and public transport routes.

Access in the built environment

There are efficient accessible transport options (including mobility parking, active mode routes, multi-node routes and clear signage and wayfinding). 

What this will look like:

·         Mobility parks are in the places that are of use to people, they are available and not being misused.

·         These mobility parks and all kerb cuttings are compliant with NZS4121:2001.

·         Pedestrian facilities meet the Guidelines for facilities for blind and vision impaired pedestrians - RTS 14.

·         Accessible signs are provided throughout the city including links to further information and/or YouTube NZSL explanations.

Access to venues

There is accessible access to services (e.g. public buildings, restaurants, theatres, accommodation, business providers).

What this will look like:

·        Accessible facilities are available that are fit for purpose.

·        Staff are helpful and knowledgeable about accessibility.

·        Guides and programmes are in accessible formats, audio descriptions and closed loop audio at events.

There is accessible access to buildings and movement throughout these buildings.

What this will look like:

·        More buildings, public places and homes are compliant with the MBIE accessibility requirements/guidelines.

·        Council facilities and tourist attractions, hospitality venues, hotels, restaurants and cafés in Wellington will be compliant with NZS4121:2001 (and subsequent amendments).

Accessibility Leadership

There is strong messaging from the Council on the importance of accessibility.

What this will look like:

·        The Council will plan and forecast for future accessibility requirements, and support this with internal capability to enable the uptake of novel or disruptive technologies that address accessibility.

·        The Council will encourage tourist attractions, hospitality venues, hotels, restaurants and cafés in Wellington to publicise the achievement of and compliance with accessibility standards.

·        The Council will raise the awareness of accessibility by creating spaces that showcase universal design and accessible venues/businesses; and by running accessible events in these spaces.

·        Our consultation and engagement is in line with Ministry of Health guidelines: “A Guide to Community Engagement with People with Disabilities”.


2019-22 Accessible Action Plan – Key Actions

Action 1: Accessibility in Strategic Planning

Building data to track our progress over time

Accessibility and universal design should be embedded in the long-term vision for the city and taken into account in developing and reporting on the Long-Term Plan, Annual Plan and strategy documents.

This action can be delivered within existing budgets.


1.   The Council will monitor the wellbeing outcomes for citizens within Wellington on the basis of disability, and work with key stakeholders (e.g. national government, Regional Council, and the District Health Board) to mitigate any inequity identified.
Timeframe: annual.
Owner: WCC (Policy, Research and Evaluation team).

2.   Carry out a survey where people provide regular feedback on the accessibility of the city. Review the survey results and track accessibility progress.
Timeframe: annual.

Owner: WCC (Research team) and WCC (Policy team).

3.   The Council actively pursues opportunities such as the Lightning Lab to enable it to identify new and innovative solutions to accessibility barriers.
Timeframe: annual.

Owner: WCC (Policy team).

4.   Establish a regular ‘Accessibility Hui’ made up of staff from across the Council. The group will be interlinked and share both skills and resources.
Timeframe: Establish in 2019. Meetings will be bi-monthly.


Action 2: Access to Information

Provide usable up-to-date information on accessible Wellington

Access to information is vital so people can make choices about where they can go safely. Currently the information is not consolidated in one place neither is it driven from a user perspective. This action focuses on delivering the right information in a format so the accessible community can make good decisions.

The Council developed an accessibility map as part of the 2012-2015 action plan. Additional information can be added, for example, venue information or allowing people to enter information through a ‘live’ function, such as “there is scaffolding on this street”; “a stair rail is missing”. The current map also appears not to be well known and its placement on the website and an accessibility communication strategy needs to be considered.  

A review of this map will be carried out with the accessibility community and community partners. This will include what accessibility features people would like to see on the map to enhance their accessible journey and will explore alternatives for communicating accessibility about the city beyond visual maps. This action can be delivered within existing budgets.


1.   Develop a page through Engagement HQ that allows people to engage with the Council about what information would be of most use and how that information would be provided.
Timeframe: 6 Months.
Owner: WCC (Policy team).

2.   Following feedback, explore if the site can then be used to test – providing the information wanted, in the form needed. (Will rely on people engaging with the site to source the information.)
Timeframe: 12 months.
Owner: WCC (Policy team).

3.   Establish a working group of stakeholders to develop scope and deliver a plan that will:

·        Engage with the accessibility community to determine what information would be useful .

·        Preferred ways to access this information .

·        Determine if the current Accessible Wellington Map meets the needs of the community.

·        Develop a communications and marketing plan.

Timeframe: 12 months.
Owner: WCC (Policy team).

4.   Work with partners and accessibility consumers to develop a platform that integrates and displays accessible information in appropriate formats.

Timeframe: 12 months.
Owner: WCC (Policy team.


Action 3: Accessible Spaces

The accessible space will act as a starting point within the city for full accessibility.

This project seeks to create accessibility spaces across the city that champion and model good accessible design and practice. The spaces will address the physical accessibility of the environment as well as also promoting an accessible culture within the businesses that operate in the location.

This will require considering accessibility and how it can be carried out at a much higher standard to which it currently is and raising the bar. Universal Design principles will be applied to the space, street and buildings. The space will be designed with the accessibility community who will input on what the new higher standard should look and feel like.

We will work with businesses to assist them to operate in an accessible way ensuring that customers and potential staff with accessibility requirements will be able to fully participate within the space.

The aim is to create spaces that people can feel confident visiting knowing that no pre-planning is required about the accessibility of the space and its venues before visiting. People will be confident about the space and participating in events and activities. The space will educate Wellingtonians on what full accessibility looks like and how good accessibility benefits everyone.


1.   Work with the Urban Design team to identify an upcoming project that would fit with the Accessibility Space concept.
Timeframe: 2019/20.
Owner: Cross Council Initiative.

2.   Work with the community in a co-design process to identify what a high standard of accessibility and Universal Design would look like for the space.
Timeframe: 2020.
Owner: Cross Council Initiative.

3.   Work with businesses in the space to improve and become fully accessible.
Timeframe: 2020.
Owner: Cross Council Initiative.

4.   Hold events that are accessible and raise awareness of accessibility.
Timeframe: 2020/21.
Owner: Cross Council Initiative.

Action 4: Accessibility Reviews

Sharing best practice to inform, educate and lift standards

There is an opportunity for people who experience a disability to write their own reviews about places visited in the city so that the whole community can learn from the experience of others and venues get feedback on their accessibility from personal experience. The Council would explore partnership opportunities to establish this. The review information would be publicly available and can be used by all people when planning a trip.

The reviews will work in conjunction with the existing strategy of encouraging venues to meet accessibility guidelines. This could include a rating system to encourage businesses and venues to improve accessibility.

There are existing international examples and these sites encourage businesses to address reviewer comments by improving accessibility. Over time we would work towards all tourist attractions, hospitality venues, hotels, restaurants and cafés in Wellington publishing a statement on their venue’s accessibility (per NZS4121:2001 and subsequent amendments).

Our role will be around advocacy and facilitation and therefore the costs to the Council are expected to be low and be delivered from within existing resources.


1.   To investigate partnership opportunities with stakeholders and companies already working on accessibility assessments to create publicly available reviews of Wellington’s places, spaces and venues.
Timeframe: 2019/20.
Owner: WCC (Policy Team).

2.   Establish a working group of stakeholders and people of interest to test functionality and to gauge potential uptake and interest in the Review tools. 
Timeframe: 2020.
Owner: WCC (Policy Team).

3.   Create the Wellington based content with partners.
Timeframe: 2019/20.
Owner: WCC (Policy Team) and partner.

4.   Work with the communications team to promote the Review tools and raise awareness of it to the public. Develop a communications plan to promote venue accessibility across the city.
Timeframe: 2020/21.
Owner: WCC (Policy team and Communications and Engagement team). Potential for partner also.

5.   Maintain the Review tools to ensure the content is relevant and up to date.
Timeframe: ongoing.
Owner: WCC (Policy Team).


Action 5: Gathering feedback on accessibility

Allowing public to feedback on ‘accessible journeys’ through Wellington

We need to give the accessible community the opportunity to easily and quickly provide feedback on accessibility issues they face that can then be addressed by the Council.

It is proposed to build a tool that would build on the accessible journey exercise that was carried out with the Council’s Accessibility Advisory Group, to engage and allow the wider public to report on positive and negative parts of any journey they undertake.

This feedback tool could be live or run for set periods of time, for example, over the summer for three months. It would gather accessible issues and ideas for improvements that people experience so that these can then be actioned. The information that is gathered could then be considered by the Council and inform future investment plans. A communications plan would be built around this initiative which would raise awareness and be a channel for broader accessibility messages.

The first stage of this action is to work with stakeholders to refine scope, functionality and likely uptake of any tool. Potential costs will also be determined through this initial scoping phase.


1.   Establish a working group of stakeholders and people of interest to test functionality and potential uptake of an app or a survey.
Timeframe: 2020.
Owner: WCC (Policy Team).

2.   Work to refine app or survey and questions to record an accessible journey along with accessible usability of the tool.
Timeframe: 2020.
Owner: WCC (Policy Team).

3.   Work with Wellington City Council communications team to promote the tool and raise awareness of it to the public.

Timeframe: 2020.
Owner: WCC (Policy with Communications and Engagement Team).


4.   Run app or survey for a three month period allowing feedback to be received on journeys.
Timeframe: 2020.
Owner: WCC (Research and Policy Teams).

5.   Once the tool run period has concluded, analyse and then present results to Wellington City Council business units for action/investment.
Timeframe: ongoing.
Owner: WCC (Policy with relevant teams that feedback relates to).

6.   Repeat the above four actions each year. Tailor the tool and questions as needed. 
Timeframe: ongoing.
Owner: WCC (Policy team).

Action 6:  Urban Design

Ensure that the design of public spaces incorporates universal design principles.

Results from the Getting Around Wellington survey showed that city design, particularly the pavements and the quality of Wellington’s streets, make a big difference to the ease of people’s journeys. Comments in the survey included street clutter and other barriers that people experience already. Better designed streets, managing footpaths and public spaces, and removing potential barriers that block these spaces, will create more accessible journeys around the city.

This will be considered through a reviewed Footpath Management Policy or any new City Design guidelines.

Feedback was also received through the survey on the accessibility of some of Wellington’s parks.


1.   Develop an infrastructure investment/upgrade plan to increase the kerb cuttings that comply with NZS4121:2001 specifications.
Timeframe: 2020/21.
Owner: WCC (Policy Team) and WCC (Transport and Infrastructure).

2.   Review of the Footpath Management Policy and development of guidelines for the design of public spaces including:

·        Street furniture.

·        Accessible Signage – Use of braille, large font, high contrast, easily readable signs and other tools that can link to additional information.

·        Non-obstruction -  review of standards for the location of street furniture and sandwich board retail signs.

·        Seating – ensure that public space seating is included at regular intervals throughout the city (for those with limited walking/standing capacity) and that seating has arms to permit easy transfers.

Timeframe: 2020.
Owner: WCC (Policy Team) and WCC (City Design Team).


Action 7: Mobility parking

Mobility parks are fit-for-purpose

The Council adopted a Mobility Parking Policy in 2005, which aims to ensure Wellington is a liveable place for people with limited mobility by enhancing their ability to participate in employment, social, cultural and political life and their access to services and resources. The policy only covers Council-provided mobility parking spaces and does not cover mobility parking spaces on private land, such as at supermarkets and retail outlets. 

In 2005, there were 23 Council-provided on-street mobility spaces. This increased to 55 spaces in the central area or 1.7 percent of all metered spaces. This was planned to be close to 2 percent of parking in line with Australian and Canadian cities.

CCS Disability Action (CCS) provides mobility parking permits, advocacy and information sharing in the disability sector New Zealand-wide. They have developed an app, Access Aware that allows people to report information on Mobility Parks. The Council has been trialling the alert function of the app. Reporting of potential mobility parking misuse of a Council-controlled parking space is sent in real time to the Council’s parking enforcement team so they can monitor the use and respond to potential misuse of the mobility parking spaces.


1.   Work with CCS to share information on Mobility Parking in Wellington. Information includes creating a data base that is crowdsourced about the amount, location and type of mobility parking space in Wellington. The database will cover both Council-provided and other mobility parking spaces.
Timeframe: 2019.
Owner: WCC (Policy team).

2.   Review the Mobility Parking Policy (2005) as part of the Parking Policy Review.
Timeframe: 2019/2020.
Owner: WCC (Policy team).

3.   Following review of the CBD mobility parks develop an improvements plan:

a.   hold a workshop to review the current Council on-street mobility parking spaces

b.   use the information from the workshop, plus survey results, to develop an action plan for improving the provision of Council on-street mobility parking spaces in Wellington.

Timeframe: 2019/2020.
Owner: WCC (Transport and Infrastructure) and
WCC (Research and Policy teams).


Action 8:  Accessible Navigation

Investigating options for assisting with navigation of the city with ease

We have piloted BlindSquare for people who are blind or have low vision or a print disability. With the BlindSquare iPhone navigation app and beacons, people with sight loss can explore their city with independence. As app-users pass shops and businesses that are ‘BlindSquare Enabled’, the app provides a spoken description of the business, including its name, what goods or services it provides and the shop layout. The app also provides other information such as the names of the roads they are walking along, or where the bus stops are.

This area is rapidly moving with new technology development.


1.   Continue to explore ways to assist people navigate their way around the city.
Timeframe: ongoing.
Community Networks.


Action 9: Accessible Democracy

Participate in democracy and have a say in how the city is run

The Council has a duty to enable all people to have a voice in the topics and issues shaping the city.  Everyone who lives in Wellington should have access to voting in elections and be able to have a say in the topics that affect them.


1.   Audit the accessibility of council buildings, and council-related public buildings against NZS4121:2001.
Timeframe: tbc.
Owner: Investigating.

2.   Accessibility of Committee rooms at 113 The Terrace.
Timeframe: ongoing.
Democratic Services.

3.   Options for closed loop audio for all WCC public meetings will be investigated.
Timeframe: 2019/20.
Democratic Services.

4.   The availability of NZSL Interpreters for WCC public meetings on request will be advertised more prominently.
Timeframe: 2019/20.
Democratic Services.

5.   Accessibility awareness raising and training of staff.
Timeframe: 2019 and then ongoing.
Policy and Communications Team.

6.   Accessible consultation and engagement.

·        Produce Council Consultation and Engagement Guidelines.

·        Promote use and implementation of the Guidelines.

Timeframe: 6 months and then ongoing.
Engagement team.


Ongoing Actions

The Council will continue to deliver the following as part of its business as usual activities which address accessibility issues and access to information.

Access to Venues:

·        We will continue to improve the levels of accessibility compliance at Council venues. We will do this through continuing accessibility audits, and staff training to improve building accessibility and customer service.

·        We will look at options of inclusive play where practical and possible when we undertake upgrades to play spaces and the development of new play spaces.

·        Building consents will continue to be assessed on any required accessibility standards. Compliance with those standards will be enforced on the building code accessibility standards.

Access to Wellington:

·        We will ensure that Mobility Parking installations are in the right places and that they meet as practical as possible the accessibility standards in the road.

·        Our street upgrade programmes will include accessibility pavement upgrades to ensure that our streets are increasingly accessible for all.

·        Within our Open Space Access Plan 2016 we will identify the paths and walkways that have sealed surfaces and flat pathways for mobility users.

·        We will review whether more accessible tracks need to be constructed.

·        We will continue to support the annual Accessibility Awards, recognising businesses, initiatives and people who help make Wellington more accessible.

Access to Information:

·        We will ensure that Council information – including emergency and emergency preparedness messaging is accessible.

·        We will ensure that the Council and affiliated websites are compliant with the NZ Standards: Web Accessibility Standard 1.0 and Web Usability Standard 1.2, and subsequent amendments.

Accessibility Leadership:

·        We will work with other stakeholders to improve accessibility as an integrated approach is often needed.

·        We will involve the Accessibility Advisory Group, technical accessibility advisors, and the wider disability community, in service development initiatives.

·        We will work with GWRC and other transport stakeholders to ensure accessibility-specific information is made publicly available (online, in app format, and in other digital/non-digital media) for all transport and public transport routes.

·        The Council will support/advocate for national standards for mobility parking, integrated ticketing and shared fare structures on public transport in Wellington, accessible options for public transport without requirements for prior bookings or reservations, including accessible bus stop design, methods of signalling the need for assistance on bus stops, and accessibility training of staff to assist passengers safely embark/disembark public transport.


Action Plan 2023 onwards

Once the action plan has run its duration a review of the 2019-2022 Action Plan will be carried out and a refreshed plan produced.

Action Plan on a Page


International Case Studies and further reading


Seattle: AccessMap the sidewalk mapping app.

AccessMap is a map-based app used in Seattle that plans accessible routes through the city. Pedestrians with limited mobility can be provided with a route to a destination that is accessible and will avoid features such as inclines that would be problematic or even an accessibility barrier. Google maps does not currently provide such an accessibility feature. The University of Washington’s Taskar Center for Accessible Technology, which created the map currently gathers information on elevation, crossings, sidewalks and kerb ramps from existing databases. The project is nowentering the next step and is crowdsourcing extra information such as pavement widths and handrails. 

EU Access City Awards

The Access City Award is for cities in Europe that are making it easy for everyone to live there. The Awards are for cities that work to make buildings, parks, transport and many other public areas more accessible for people with disabilities and the elderly.

In 2018, the city of Breda in the Netherlands won the award.

In Breda, public places such as parks and stores are accessible to everyone. Digital technologies ensure that all citizens can get around using public transport. And Breda's investments pay off. Tourism is thriving thanks to the city’s commitment to inclusion. In the near future, the European Accessibility Act will complement Breda's efforts by setting European accessibility standards for key products and services. Our combined efforts at local and European level are a game changer for the more than 80 million Europeans with disabilities.” 

In 2017 the city of Chester was the winner of the award. The city has gone beyond legal minimum requirements for accessibility to ensure the city is used by all.

Chester is an historic city famous for its 3.2 km City Walls which form the most complete circuit of Roman, Saxon and Medieval walls in the UK. It is also well known for the Rows, unique elevated walkways above the four main streets. As an Ancient Monument, access to the City Walls has had to be tackled with great care and sensitivity. Ramps and level access have been introduced over many years and are now at 11 locations. All sections of the elevated Rows have been made accessible with a combination of ramps, level access routes, a lift and escalator. Access points are widely advertised on panels around the city and in the city centre access leaflet.

To enable disabled people needing specialist facilities to enjoy the city for longer, four Changing Places units have been provided. These are larger than standard accessible toilets and include equipment such as hoists, an adjustable height changing bed, washbasin and shower.

The city also improved how people get around with 129 accessible buses. Improved access to municipal buildings allows greater access to participating in city life and the city’s website aims to comply with international standards providing accessible information for people.


Euan’s Guide -

Euan’s Guide is the accessibility review website that aims to ‘remove the fear of the unknown’ and inspire people to try new places. The website was founded in 2013 by brother and sister, Euan and Kiki MacDonald, after Euan became a powerchair user. After spending hours of their time making enquiries about access at places they wanted to go, the duo realised that they could not be alone in their search for access information. This idea became Euan’s Guide, a digital charity that is helping to open up towns and cities to people struggling with accessibility everywhere.

Individuals, their friends and families can use the website to search for listings and reviews of venues across the UK and beyond. Listings include information about accessible toilets, wheelchair access, hearing loops and multiple other access features that exist at any one particular venue. The cornerstone of Euan’s Guide however is its community of independent reviewers, who share their photos and experiences of restaurants, hotels, train stations, attractions and anywhere else they may have visited. By sharing their experiences people can give others an idea of what to expect when they visit somewhere new for the first time.

It now provides accessibility information on about 6,000 venues across the UK.




NZ Government. New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016-2026, Office for Disability Issues

NZ Government. Web Accessibility Standard 1.0. 2013. Wellington: NZ Government. Accessed on 2/12/2017 at:

NZ Government. Web Usability Standard 1.2. 2013. Wellington: NZ Government. Accessed on 2/12/2017 at:

Standards New Zealand. 2001. NZS4121:2001 New Zealand Standard: Design for Access and Mobility – Buildings and Associated Facilities. Wellington: Standards New Zealand. Accessed on 2/12/2017 at:

Ministry of Health. 2017. A Guide to Community Engagement with People with Disabilities (2nd edn). Wellington: Ministry of Health. Accessed on 2/12/2017 at:

United Nations.2006. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New York: United Nations.

Road and Traffic Standards – Guidelines for facilities for blind and vision impaired pedestrians. 3rd Edition - May 2015. Road and Traffic Standard Series



Accessibility – We access all places, services and information with ease and dignity. (New Zealand Disability Strategy, 2016-2026).

Co-design – People with accessibility needs are consulted on and actively involved in the development and implementation of legislation and policies concerning housing (home ownership, social housing and private rentals), transport (public and private), public buildings and spaces and information, communication and technology.

Public building – is a building that is open and can be used by the public.

Facilities - applies to building facilities, lifts and toilets but also public external facilities such as tracks, toilets, shelters, seating etc. Facilities can be within buildings and venues.

Venues – the place where something happens, especially an organized event such as a concert, conference, or sports competition.

Universal design - is good design that works for everyone:

·        It is about making sure everything is accessible to, understood by and used to the greatest extent possible by everyone, without adaptation or requiring little adaptation. Incorporating universal design early on is cost-effective.

·        Universal design is often referred to in relation to the built environment, but it applies to services, supports, the curriculum and technologies as well.

·        Universal design is distinct from accessible design. Accessible design represents the minimum accessibility requirements in built design, whereas universal design seeks accessible design outcomes that work for everyone.

(New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016)

Accessible Format – That a document or piece of information has been made with consideration of accessibility. Some formats suit one type of impairment more than another and a combination may be required depending on the audience:

·        visual impairments – audio, audio description, Braille, Moon, telephone

·        learning disabilities and literacy difficulties – audio, audio description, easy read, easy access, Makaton, subtitles

·        hearing – Sign Language, Makaton, subtitling, textphone, SMS

·        co-ordination difficulties – large print, audio, audio description, telephone (