Engage Aotearoa

Category Archives: Accessibility / Transport

Navigating autism as a couple: the university journey

Cameron is a kiwi guy who was diagnosed with autism in adulthood. He and his wife Kirsten write regular blogs about their life navigating autism as a couple. Their blog lets you follow their journey from seeking out a diagnosis, making sense of it, and working through the challenges autism presents. One of the things I love about this blog is that we get to hear from both Cameron and Kirsten as they welcome us into their struggles and small victories. In their latest blog post, they celebrate Cameron receiving his university diplomas and reflect on all it has taken to get there (this involves a bit of swearing, which is not surprising given the challenges he faced).

For me, these experiences really highlight the importance of accurate diagnosis and access to appropriate accommodations within our education settings. If you are autistic or experience other forms of neurodiversity like ADHD, and you are studying or preparing to study, it is vital that you know you can find support for your learning from your university’s disability office. All educational settings are required to have some form of support in place and you have a human right to ‘reasonable accommodations’ to ensure you can take part to the best of your ability.

Cameron didn’t have a diagnosis at the time he was studying, and describes just how distressing the process of misdiagnosis ultimately was for him. You could argue that it was the stress of misdiagnosis that prevented him from completing the degree he had initially planned for himself, rather than the challenges of autism itself. Because of course, if we don’t know what it is really happening to us, it’s incredibly difficult to know what we need and what is going to help. And there are plenty of things that can help. It is possible to plan a reduced course load, more time to get course-work done, reader-writers for note-taking, exams and tests, assistance in labs, support to educate your teachers, and all sorts of other things to help make it easier to manage the challenges you face and successfully pursue further education without placing yourself under undue levels of stress and distress. Sometimes it takes an advocate or two to access these accommodations and Kirsten gives us an inspiring example of the difference it can make when people have someone to stand beside them in this way.

Follow Cameron and Kirsten at Help My Husband Has Asperger’s and read their latest post here My Train Finally Arrived at Alumni Station!

Info Refresher: The Disability Allowance

The Disability Allowance is a weekly payment to help people meet the costs associated with a disability or health condition (including mental-health conditions). You can find out more by following the link below. You might be surprised to find out just how many things you can get help with if you live with the effects of a health condition.


About the Disability Allowance

The Disability Allowance is a weekly payment for people of all ages who have a disability or ongoing health condition and need help with the additional costs directly associated with that condition.

It is available to people who qualify for a Community Services Card including those on a benefit or people who are working. There is an income test. An application can also be made on behalf of a child if they are aged 18 years or under and financially dependent on the person who is making the application.

To qualify for Disability Allowance the person must:

have a disability or health condition that is likely to last at least six months have regular, ongoing costs because of a disability which are not fully covered by another agency are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident normally live in New Zealand and intend to stay here meet the income and asset test.

Allowable costs covered by a Disability Allowance

Following are some examples of costs that a Disability Allowance may be paid for; noting that the cost must be directly related to the person’s disability:

Alternative treatment: must be supported by a medical practitioner as being necessary to be publically funded for the person’s condition, and the treatment provided or supervised by a health practitioner (under the HPCAA).

Ambulance fees and subscriptions: when a person is required to pay ambulance fees or subscription fees on an annual on-going basis.

Authorised consumables: can cover the ongoing additional cost of consumable items needed by a person, eg hearing aids, vet’s fees etc for guide dogs, incontinence pads (if they are not provided through Health).

Clothing: for additional clothing costs that a person has which may arise because of greater frequency of washing, wear and tear resulting from use of a prosthetic aid or wheelchair or the need to have clothes or shoes made-to-measure.

Counselling: for counselling fees if the need for counselling is directly related to the person’s disability. It is limited to 10 sessions with the opportunity for some additional sessions if clinically indicated (uncommon).

Day care for the elderly disabled: to help meet the costs of an elderly disabled person (usually aged 65 or over) to attend a day care centre, and/or the cost of transport to the centre.

Gardening, lawns and outside window cleaning: covers the costs of gardening, lawn-mowing, and outside window cleaning for the person’s own home or private residence where the person or another resident in the home is unable to do these tasks themselves.

Gym and swimming pool fees: may be paid when the exercise activities are directly related to a person’s disability and will have a therapeutic value.

Medical alarms: to cover the costs of medical alarm rental and monitoring if a medical alarm is necessary for normal daily living and without it, the person’s life or health would be put at risk, or their disability would be aggravated.

Medical fees: to cover the cost of appointments with general practitioners, specialists or hospital fees if the costs are additional and ongoing. This can also include fees for the some other health services (if a registered medical practitioner verifies the need and its relationship to the documented disability or health condition), for example occupational therapy, physiotherapy, audiology, podiatry or dental services.

Pharmaceutical charges: to cover the costs of regular and ongoing pharmaceutical charges. Note: It is generally only paid to assist with the cost of pharmaceutical products that are subsidised or partially subsidised under the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act.

Power, gas and heating: for the additional electricity, gas or heating costs that a person has. It is for the costs over and above the normal power consumption of similar-sized households.

Rental equipment: for necessary rental equipment when the client has a need for the item or service but can’t receive funding through the District Health Board or another state funded agency and their life or health would be put at risk, or their disability aggravated if they could not hire the equipment.

Special foods: to cover the additional costs of special foods, ie for costs over and above the normal cost of food. Vitamins, supplements, herbal remedies and minerals can also be included when they are recommended as necessary for the management of the condition.

Telephone: for telephone costs to a person with a disability only when the ongoing cost of the telephone is directly related to the person’s disability.

Transport – disability: for additional travel costs that a person has because of their disability. These additional travel costs can be incurred when a person with a disability is carrying out everyday activities. Examples of everyday activities may include (but is not limited to) shopping, vocational services and work.

Transport – personal health: to cover the costs of regular travel to a health practitioner for supervision or treatment of the person’s disability.

Funded New Zealand Sign Language Interpreters for Deaf Parents

The Ministry of Education is now funding New Zealand Sign Language Interpreters for Deaf parents so they can contribute and participate in their children’s core education activities while their children are attending primary and secondary school.

This service covers:

  • formal parent-teacher meetings
  • Individual Education Plan meetings
  • attendance at prize giving/special assemblies
  • attendance at any additional meetings with school staff where any aspect of a child’s education is being discussed
  • attendance at school enrolment meetings.

For information about the service go to: http://www.isign.co.nz/services/funding, or contact Carolyn Grace, phone 04 463 8953 or email carolyn.grace@minedu.govt.nz .

Updates to the Mobility Parking Scheme: What You Need to Know

The mobility parking permit scheme is getting a spruce up!

CCS Disability Action has looked at ways in which they can improve the Mobility Parking Permit Scheme in consultation with mobility parking users.

As a result of this consultation, we’re pleased to announce the upcoming changes. We believe as a result the scheme will be fairer and more transparent for all.


Everyone with an existing permit will still be able to continue to use it, but you will notice changes in the scheme and in permits issued from early December this year.

Fairer eligibility

A number of people told CCS Disability Action that the current eligibility criteria are confusing. As a result of a review CCS Disability Action also felt that there were people who were missing out who had a genuine need, particularly people who require intensive behaviour support that could really benefit from being able to use designated mobility parking spaces.

You will be eligible if you meet the following criteria:

  1. You are unable to walk and always require the use of a wheelchair; or
  2. Your ability to walk distances is severely restricted by a medical condition or disability. If for example, you require the use of mobility aids, experience severe pain, or breathlessness; or
  3. You have a medical condition or disability that requires you to have physical contact or close supervision to safely get around and cannot be left unattended. For example, if you experience disorientation, confusion, or severe anxiety.

Changes to the criteria will make it clearer for people to determine if they are eligible, making the application process easier for all users.

Applying for a permit

To apply for a short-term permit, an extension on a short-term permit or a long-term permit for the first time you will need to get your doctor to confirm your eligibility by completing the medical section of the application form. However if you are renewing your long-term permit – as it was confirmed by your doctor in the application for your first long-term permit that you have a medical condition or disability which affects your mobility and is long-term (permanent); you do not have to provide any additional medical information.

From early December there will be a new application form that will be easier to download from the website www.MobilityParking.org.nz.

Only some of the branch offices will be processing applications received by post – these are listed on the application form. While you will still be able to take your application into your local branch and pay for your permit, the permit will not be issued to you over the counter. Your permit will be sent to you within 5 working days from the date that they receive your application and payment.

New look permit brings greater accountability

Everyone with an existing permit will still be able to continue to use it, but those issued with a new permit from early December will notice a completely new look.

The new permit is in CCS Disability Action colours (green, black and white) and will have the expiry date (month and year) printed on it. The permit will also include a barcode and permit number that will allow parking wardens to scan for real time information, similar to current vehicle licensing technology.

It’s hoped these technological improvements will result in a fairer scheme for all, supporting faster identification of those lost and stolen permits in circulation.

Further changes

In the first half of 2013 CCS Action will be introducing the facility for people to apply and pay for a mobility parking permit online! Keep an eye out on the website for more information on this as it comes to hand.

Contact Sara Georgeson

Mobility Parking Permit Scheme Project Manager

CCS Disability Action , National Office

TEL    04 384 5677
DDI    04 805 0080   MOB  021 1903 786

EML Sara.Georgeson@ccsDisabilityAction.org.nz

www.ccsDisabilityAction.org.nz www.MobilityParking.org.nz

2012 Monitoring Report on the Rights of People with Disabilities in NZ Released

How NZ Treats People with Disabilities

In case anyone has missed this, here is a link to the full report launched last Wednesday 24 October.

Changes to Auckland Public Transport

Auckland City Council wants to make people aware that there will be physical changes to their local station when using public transport in Auckland.

As part of the changes currently being carried out by Auckland Transport, there will be new ticket and top up machines and electronic gates appearing at rail stations, bus way stations and ferry wharves across the city.

The Auckland Integrated Fares System will be going live towards the beginning of next year, so the machine and gates which are currently being installed, are not yet in operation.

Electronic gates

The work to install electronic gates has already begun the Newmarket station and will soon begin at the Britomart station. Gates will also be installed on Downtown Ferry Terminal Pier 1 from 2013 and there are plans for more rail stations to have these gates in the future.

At Newmarket Station, there are two sets of gates, one row of five as you enter from Remuera Road and a set of three as you access the platforms from Station Square. At Britomart station, the gates will be on the platform level at the East and West entrances.

Please note these gates are not currently in operation, and will remain in an `open’ position until they are activated in 2013.

When these gates are activated, HOP customers will tag their valid HOP card enabling the gates to open and allowing the customer to travel through. Passengers using paper tickets will need to use the manual gates situated at the end of the electronic gates, which will be manned by a train station staff member e the staff member by the manual gates. There will be audio and visual cues to indicate a successful or unsuccessful HOP card tag-on or tag-off. The machine will beep and flash a green light for a successful tag-on or tag-off. An unsuccessful tag or error will be presented with a different beep and a red light. Cards loaded with a concession will have a double beep and an amber line to indicate the concession.

The dimensions of these gates are as follows: 1020 mm height and each individual gate will be 1200 mm wide and 1900 mm deep.

Ticket and top up machines

Large self-service machines used to top up HOP cards or buy single fare paper tickets are currently being installed on all railway platforms, however these machines are not yet in operation. They will also appear at bus stations at a later date.

The dimensions of the self-serve machine are 1800 mm height, 900 mm width and 570 mm depth. In most stations they will be placed as near to shelters or existing structures as possible.

The ticket and top-up machines will become active later in 2012 and into 2013. They will have a vision impaired mode that has been developed in close consultation with RNZFB and ABC. Further information on the use of the vision impaired mode will follow closer to the installation date.

Hop Card Reader

Medium sized pillars for customers to tag-on and tag-off at the start and end of their journey are being installed at rail stations and ferry wharfs, but are not yet in operation.

The dimensions of the machine are as follows: Height 1070 mm, width 230 mm, depth 120 mm. In most stations they will be placed as near to shelters or existing structures as possible.

When these readers are active, passengers must `tag-on and tag-off’ to avoid a penalty fare. There will be audio and visual cues to indicate a successful or unsuccessful tag-on or tag-off. The machine will beep and flash a green light for a successful tag-on or tag-off. An unsuccessful tag or error will be presented with a different beep and a red light. Cards loaded with a concession will have a double beep and an amber light to indicate the concession.

Free access to building accessibility standards

The best advice on how to make buildings accessible for disabled people is now available online for free. As the result of advocacy by the Barrier Free Trust, CCS Disability Action and DPA, eleven organisations have joined together to fund public access to New Zealand Standard 4121: Design for access and mobility: Buildings and associated facilities (NZS4121) over the next two years.

NZS4121 covers public buildings such as government offices, commercial buildings, police stations, hospitals, schools, theatres, shops, petrol stations and public toilets. It provides detailed technical guidance for design and building industry professionals on how to achieve the minimum level of accessibility in the built environment, as required under the Building Act 2004.

The Department of Building and Housing (now part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) has agreed to fund fifty percent of the cost, with the remaining fifty percent being met by:

  • Wellington City Council
  • Auckland Council
  • Christchurch City Council
  • Selwyn District Council
  • Building Officials Institute of New Zealand
  • Barrier Free New Zealand Trust
  • CCS Disability Action
  • Be. Institute
  • Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB)
  • National Foundation for the Deaf (NFD)
  • Deaf Aotearoa.

This is a great achievement. It will promote greater knowledge of practical changes that can be made to improve access for all.

The Barrier Free Trust and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment are planning a series of seminars to inform the disability and construction sectors on the importance of NZS4121 in the design and building process. These seminars will help to spread the news about the free availability of NZS4121.

You can access NZS4121 at: http://www.standards.co.nz/4121+access+mobility+design


Auckland Disability Law Still Needs YOU

Public Launch of Open Letter

The Public Launch of Auckland Disability Law’s open letter to Minister Judith Collins held on Thursday 5th July 2012 at Trades Hall was a positive success.

A crowd of over 30 people attended.  Many of them signed as individuals and on behalf of their organisations.

As a result of this hui, the Herald featured a story about disability law, featuring Steering Group Chair Person, Martine Abel,

Click link below for the article


You can also listen to Nicola being interviewed on Checkpoint last week: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2524294/auckland-disability-law-fights-against-closure

A week ago, Auckland Disability Law released and launched their campaign, Save Disability Law.

Since the launch, over 100 individuals have signed up to support Disability Law, and we have received support from these organisations (in alphabetical order):

  • Auckland Action Against Poverty
  • CCS Disability Action
  • DPA Dunedin
  • Green Party of New Zealand
  • Homeworks Trust
  • Kaitaia Community House
  • National Secretary on behalf of New Zealand Public Services Association (PSA)
  • People First
  • PSA Deaf and Disabled Members Network
  • Pukenga Consultancy
  • Service and Food Workers Union SFWU
  • Tamaki Ngati Kapo Inc
  • Te Roopu Waiora Trust
  • The Asian Network Inc.
  • Unite union
  • Youthlaw

It’s not too late to sign!

How to sign

Email your name to info@adl.org.nz and they will add you as an email signatory to our list.

If you are signing on behalf of an organisation, be sure to include your logo.

If your organisation has not yet signed, ask them if they would like to support the cause.

You can also save and print a copy of the Open Letter yourself and send it directly to Minister of Justice Judith Collins http://www.beehive.govt.nz/minister/judith-collins

What else you can do

You can write your own letter to Minister of Justice Judith Collins.

You can lobby, write to or talk to your Local MP.  Click link for list of MPs http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/MPP/MPs/MPs/ Don’t forget to let Auckland Disability Law know how your communications with them were received.

Write to the newspapers, or put out your own press release

Contact Auckland Disability Law for further information

Follow on Facebook

Search and click the ‘like’ button on the Auckland Disability Law Facebook page

Come to the “Save Disability Law” public meeting

  • Monday 30th July 2012
  • Time 1pm – 3pm
  • Western Springs Community Garden Hall, 956 Great North Road, Western Springs, Auckland

Further Information

If you require any further information or you are able to help the campaign in any way, please contact us:

Nicola Owen, Development Manager, Auckland Disability Law

Ministry of Justice Proposes Cutting Disability Law Services

Help Save Disability Law

The Ministry of Justice is proposing to withdraw funding for direct specialist legal services for the disability community from June 2013.

This will mean that there will no longer be a community law centre specialising in the complex legal needs of disabled people.  There will be no Auckland Disability Law.

Auckland Disability Law is calling for the Ministry of Justice to rethink this proposal.

At Engage Aotearoa, we think there should be specialist disability law services available to disabled people throughout New Zealand, including Auckland Disability Law. We frequently refer people to this service.

Your Help is Needed!

Key Things You Can Do:

Sign the Open Letter to Judith Collins, the Minister of Justice as an individual or on behalf of your organisation (attached (right click the link to save the document) and available on Auckland Disability Law’s Facebook page or by email from info@adl.org.nz).  Email to sign the letter and send your organisation’s logo.

Come to the “Save Disability Law” Community Hui

Send a message to the government that we are serious about saving disability law through the continued funding of Auckland Disability Law and extending specialist legal services nationally for disabled people.

  • When:  Monday 30th July 2012, 1pm till 3pm
  • Where:   Western Springs Garden Community Hall, 956 Great North Road
  • Invited speakers: Mojo Mathers, Sue Bradford, Clive Lansink

Other Things That You Can Do to Help

Write your own letter to Justice Minister Judith Collins


Write to the newspapers, or put out your own press release

Contact Auckland Disability Law for further information

Follow Auckland Disability Law on Facebook

Search and click the ‘like’ button on the Auckland Disability Law Facebook page

Further Information

If you require any further information or you are able to help the campaign in any way, please contact, Auckland Disability Law:

Nicola Owen, Development Manager, Auckland Disability Law

Animation Raises Awareness of UN Convention on Rights of People with Disability

The Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Human Rights Commission have today launched a short animated film to raise awareness of the UN Disability Convention in Scotland.

The film has British Sign Language and captioning. It was illustrated by Ko Lik Films and produced by Glasgow Media Access Centre.


The exact same convention has been ratified in New Zealand so the exact same rights apply here.