Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts. Practical accessibility and inclusive processes within parties are broadly neglected, or an after thought at best, with the odd random exception. Internal party communications, draft policy documents, websites/forums, physical meetings, and voting mechanisms only systemically suit a narrow definition of functional ability, just as in wider society.
You might say the barriers highlighted in this recent report on party websites indicates how pro-active party officials actually are in seeking votes from people with information access challenges. I’ve raised these findings with the parties studied, and have so far heard back from just one group, that they are “looking to make some changes after the election”. (!!)
At least basic enrolment and voting info has been produced in NZSL, large print and plain language formats. Voting procedures for events like a general election have come a long way. We can now vote in advance at designated voting places or arrange for advance voting teams to visit rest homes or hospitals, people can request postal voting papers be mailed to them, or can register for Telephone Dictation voting. On Election Day you can even authorise someone to go and collect a ‘takeaway vote’ for you to complete and have returned to any voting place by 7pm.
The Electoral Commission may have taken a while to get on board, but at least they recognise the moral imperative at stake here. (alas, accessible online voting, aka a secret ballot, is still some way away according to their disability action plan)
I’m not sure it is feasible to require unified, common messages about disability. Our lives are as diverse as all New Zealand citizens. There’s no one policy approach or action which will address all our messy rights or needs. Systems have to respond to individual circumstances. Tough.
Managerialism, bureaucracy and divide and conquer thinking has been deployed to confuse us, dilute our collaborative strengths, and pit advocacy groups against each other for legitimacy, influence, progress, funding, or glory.
Given a historical perspective, groups putting forward our collective voices will tend to bring the balance back towards emphasis of disabled people’s rights, rather than the view of providers or families, within a common framework such as the UN CRPD, and recognising that there is no single message that encompasses us all.
There have been some good efforts made to get parties to take a position on disability issues in lead up to the election, and thereby educate and inform voters. For those in Auckland, I encourage you to check out some work I and others have been involved in, including this upcoming event on 30th August.
The one-off Making Honey seminar we organised during my time with DPA Auckland was about showing our community a range of options for involvement... I wanted to take groups of disabled people to public committee meetings of Councils and District Health Boards, with discussion before and after about the process
I agree it's important to guide people through what participation and leadership means in the context of their lives. The need is still there to pick up and follow on with fantastic ideas such as these again.
If anyone is interested.....
There was a 'meet the candidates' session in Hamilton today for representatives from nine parties to present their disability policies.
More than one of the candidates commented that this particular meeting had a higher attendance than any others( mainstream) they had been invited to speak at.
It was a pity that the candidates had little to no knowledge of disability issues....but there was plenty of opportunity for people to raise their awareness.
Well organised, well facilitated, well attended.
Well done Hamilton.
Here's yet another erosion of services to people who use wheelchairs. While there's nothing wrong with increasing choice, there's a great deal wrong with reducing a 24/7 service which accepts wheelchair users to a 7am to 7pm one which doesn't necessarily ( and over time will not except at greater cost, in order to remain in business).