Our Capital City sets accessibility benchmark

Our capital city is showing fantastic leadership in their ongoing commitment to accessibility as a city-wide priority. Wellington City Council and the visitor attractions/public services owned by the City Council have been on a journey to develop best practice in accessible experiences for all for many years and began their partnership with Be Accessible in 2011 in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup.

As a host centre for the 2011 RWC, Wellington really embraced the approach to providing holistically accessible experiences across all aspects of the visitor experience. Back in 2011, 12 restaurants, hotels, stadia, transportation operators and visitor attractions underwent the Be. Welcome assessment programme, preparing the community for a RWC experience that all people could participate in.

Since 2011, WCC has been a keen champion of accessibility. In its “Accessible Wellington Action Plan” the Council presents its vision for Wellington as “an inclusive, universally accessible city where all residents and visitors can fully participate in community and civic life”.

Wellington City Council has already demonstrated its commitment to accessibility in a wide range of areas. Their achievements include creating community focused Accessibility Services around the city and communicating these on the Council’s website and communicating accessibly to communities about important safety and Council programme information; Providing visitors and residents with an engaging map of the local area that guides them to accessible experiences; Providing mechanisms for everyone to get around - Mobility Scooters in strategic locations, bicycle-friendly routes, buggy/pushchair facilities, encouraging responsible pedestrian and vehicle shared use; Engaging Be. Accessible and other accessibility focused organisations in reviews of the areas that require improvements in access across key Council assets and services. And beginning a programme of discovery for Council and CCO teams to support them to be as welcoming and as innovative as possible for all.

Be. Accessible is proud to partner with Wellington City Council to help enable its vision of a city that is people centred, connected, accessible, safe and easy to get around, and a place that Wellingtonians feel proud to reside in and visit, that draws in opportunities for economic development and is welcoming to everyone in the community to participate in its vibrancy.

Be. has worked with WCC to re-engage with 15 Wellington based organisations to create a network of gradually improving accessible experiences across the city and region. The Wellington visitor attractions who have embraced the access journey building in the region include Government House, Wellington Zoo and Westpac Stadium.

Wellington City Council has also been instrumental in enabling Be. Accessible to develop the Be. Lite product – an educational tool to support small and local businesses to start assessing their accessibility. This saw great success in Wellington- particularly with the café scene that Wellington is known for with 10 engaged in the first few months of the Be. lite campaign. This has allowed Be to roll this out as a concept across other NZ centres – but always with Wellington as the benchmark to beat!

This year, Be. and many other Wellington operators are lining up and committing to create a consistent experience that allows every traveller to Wellington, every resident to enjoy seamless accessibility from the airport and rail, ferry connections into the city, across the local streetscape, parks, museums, retailers, food and beverage, and accommodation.

Watch this space New Zealand!