Access to shops, transport and other services
Accessible information about services
Access requirements for government websites
The government has set a “Web Accessibility Standard” for all websites run by government departments. These include the Ministry of Justice, Work and Income (as part of the Ministry of Social Development), Statistics New Zealand, the New Zealand Police and the Ministry of Health.
The Standard requires these websites to be accessible through assistive technologies or through special accessibility features in mainstream website features. For example, a “show captions” option in a media player. The Standard is based on widely accepted international guidelines (the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).
Website content has to be presented in a way that allows you to successfully access the website information with your assistive technologies. As an example, the standard would be breached if you’re blind or visually impaired, and pictures used for navigating a page didn’t have text alternatives that your assistive technology (like text-to-speech or magnification) can recognise and present to you.
Note: There are a range of state-owned organisations that aren’t public service departments – for example, the Accident Compensation Corporation, Kāinga Ora (Housing New Zealand), and the NZ Qualifications Authority. These other organisations aren’t required to follow the government’s Web Accessibility Standard, but they are strongly encouraged to.
The government recognises that if its websites are not accessible to disabled people, this is a breach of the UN Disability Convention and of our Human Rights Act 1993. The government’s online introduction to its Web Toolkit says that the legal concept of “reasonable accommodation” clearly applies to department websites, and this means that “adequate allowance must be made in designing and planning websites for disabled access”.
The UN Disability Convention says that countries like New Zealand who have joined the Convention should take these steps:
- provide disabled people with information in accessible formats and using appropriate technologies, at no extra cost
- make sure people can use sign language, Braille and other types of communication when they’re dealing with government services and agencies (see: “Your rights to use New Zealand Sign Language (“NZSL”)”).
- urge private sector companies to provide accessible information, including accessible websites
- encourage mass media and internet companies to make their services accessible to disabled people
- recognise and promote the use of sign language.
To find out more about the Disability Convention and what it means for disabled people in New Zealand, see: “Rights that are recognised internationally: The UN Disability Convention”.