Monthly Archives: December 2010

Wrapping up 2010

As we approach the end of the usual Lemming-like rush towards Christmas and the holiday season we begin to take stock of the year that was. In my household that process has been disrupted by a flood from an apartment two floors above, resulting in the appearance of two large, loud and breezy driers in our hallway. Trying to work in my office was like being on a long-haul flight with the gale inside the plane.

Still we are dry and quiet now and I can belatedly reflect on the events of 2010. This year saw the end of my eight year term as a human rights commissioner with responsibility for disability issues. A wrench to stop doing something I love but I still retain connections and I am delighted that a fulltime disability human rights commissioner will be appointed.

This year has seen a raft of reports and research around disability rights and social welfare, and the beginnings of the Improving Attitudes and Behaviour towards Disabled People campaign. It will be interesting to see it develop and to measure its achievements in my daily life as a disabled person.

I was relieved that none of my family or friends were injured or lost their homes or livelihoods in the frightening earthquake in Canterbury.

We have seen the passing of disabled friends, colleagues and activists and mourned our loss while giving thanks for their enormous and valuable contribution to the disability community.

New beginnings are also evident. We travelled south for a (freezing) midwinter family wedding and our daughter came home from the UK summer to share the celebrations lasting a whole delightful weekend.

At AccEase we are broadening our scope of disability work, and I have relished developing new products and establishing collaborative relationships including some with international organisations..

I wish readers and friends a very happy Christmas, if you celebrate it, and a pleasant, safe and restful holiday with a resurgence of energy for the work still to be done. Our beautiful pohutukawa trees are in full bloom in the sunny summer this year. I hope they are a good omen for us all, bringing a prosperous, rights based and peaceful 2011.

Red pohutukawa flower with leaf. NZ Christmas tree.

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Filed under Disability Issues, Disability Rights, Information Accessibility, Miscellaneous

NZ Disability and Dance Strategy

“If you can breathe you can dance” said Bronwyn Hayward at the launch of the strategy “Would you like this dance?”

Hard to believe in my case since I have never been well- coordinated or graceful, but the strategy reveals that dance can be surprising and make a real difference:

“Expect to be amazed! Expect to laugh a lot, look at the world differently, spend every minute thinking about how to engage, interact and communicate more effectively. Expect to love your job more than you thought was possible!!!”
Survey respondent commenting on the effect of dance on their life.

Then why would a visually challenged person such as me who knows zilch about it have the temerity to write about dance? I have been able to see enough dance to appreciate some of the beauty and expressiveness it brings, and I applaud any initiative which brings inclusion and such obvious joy to the lives of disabled people. As the song says we need roses as well as bread.

That is the point Bronwyn and DANZ are making. Dance is for everyone, and many people were dancing very enthusiastically at the launch at Te Papa on December 4 celebrating the International Day of Disabled People.

Integrated, or mixed ability dance is not new to New Zealand. Bronwyn Hayward, researcher and author of the strategy is herself a disabled dancer and filmmaker. She and groups like Touch Compass Dance have vigorously promoted it for some time.

The recommendations form the report cover the visibility of integrated dance, the employment of champions to promote it, development of school resources, identification of accessible teaching and performance spaces around NZ and the establishment of a reference group to progress the strategy. Recommendations also cover funding, and the development of enabling partnerships

My only quibbles are with the document itself. It could do with a contents list and an executive summary, and the binding could be more robust.

It was good to see that accessibility has not been forgotten. The strategy is available in standard print, online in html, large print, text only, Word and plain English. To order copies email

I hope this important document will not be left to gather dust on shelves. I suspect Bronwyn won’t let it!


Filed under Disability Issues, Disability Rights, Information Accessibility, The Arts

Ending poverty for disabled people

It has been said that without including the 650 million disabled women, men and children in poverty reduction strategies, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) cannot be met. The theme for this year’s UN International Day of Disabled Persons, December 3rd, is “Keeping the promise: Mainstreaming disability in the Millennium Development Goals towards 2015 and beyond”.  The MDGs are a set of internationally agreed development objectives for the global community. Yet they do not include any mention of disability, despite the poverty of disabled people, with disabled women and children being among the poorest people in the world.

While it is fair to acknowledge that, as Prof Gerard Quinn has said “All countries are developing countries when it comes to disability,” disabled people in countries like New Zealand are generally well off compared to the 400 million disabled people living in Asia and the Pacific.

It is important to think about and respond to issues of poverty and exclusion among disabled people in New Zealand, especially to the report from the Welfare Working Group and the report from the Alternative Welfare Working Group

But how well is New Zealand fulfilling its international obligations under Article 32 of the Disability Rights Convention (CRPD)? You can influence the Government’s first CRPD report to the UN. Do it today.

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Filed under Disability Issues, Disability Rights, Inclusion, Women