Accessibility Charter for Canterbury: Collaborating to go beyond compliance Lorraine Guthrie, CEO Barrier Free NZ Trust

The situation in Canterbury which arose from the earthquakes provided New Zealand with an opportunity to repair and rebuild the city to a ‘higher than mere compliance’ standard. When the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) asked the residents of Canterbury what their priorities were for the rebuild, an accessible city was one of the five priorities.  Barrier Free NZ Trust (the technical experts) in collaboration with the Earthquake Disability Leadership Group (representing disabled Cantabrians) initiated an Accessibility Charter, to bring together the organisations rebuilding the city, to make a joint commitment and to share and implement best practice ideas. The signatories to the Charter, commit to ensuring consideration of accessibility is a ‘business as usual’ process, through four key phases of their work; policy and procedure, education, technical expertise and the health and wellbeing of Cantabrians and the communities in which they live. Each founding signatory implemented the Charter in diverse ways depending upon the role they played in the rebuild.  From a large city council which developed a working group to explore how the Charter could be implemented in every aspect of the council’s work to a planning agency incorporating accessibility as a key strategic goal. Highlights for those involved have been; collaboration between technical experts and users of the environments, willingness of those within the organisations to aim for the highest level of accessibility practically possible and the creation of universally accessible environments and design solutions. The Accessibility Charter leaders acknowledge there are legislation minimums.   But, with a committed internal organisational process ensuring that best practice possibilities are considered, a universally designed accessible and ultimately inclusive environment is more likely to be the outcome. The Trust and EDLG continue to grow the signatory base for the Accessibility Charter in Canterbury and to explore its application across New Zealand. This presentation will share the development of the Charter, key relationships, organisational implementation plans and a vision for what could be achieved by the Charter.