“Access to public buildings is a basic human right and New Zealand building legislation supports this. The Buildings for Everyone guide encourages building owners and designers to consider the needs of all users of public buildings right from the start,” said minister for building and construction Jenny Salesa.
The term ‘public building’ broadly means any building that members of the public can access, but does not include private dwellings, said the government.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and national charity Barrier Free developed the guide in consultation with the disability sector. The 11 sections in the guide illustrate how design decisions can improve accessibility and the experience of users.
“The Buildings for Everyone guide is particularly relevant for those who own, design, build and manage public facilities,” said Salesa. “It describes the building user experience for people with a wide range of physical, sensory and cognitive capabilities and shows practical approaches to the design, construction and management of public buildings to meet their needs. Importantly, the guide provides some help to understanding the requirements of the Building Code relating to accessibility.”
Minister for disability issues Carmel Sepuloni welcomed the building guide and said it supported the government’s work programme to explore how full accessibility for disabled people and all New Zealanders can be achieved. “Permanent or temporary disability affects one quarter of all New Zealanders, including seniors,” she said. Inaccessible buildings, transport and services exclude a large proportion of disabled people from employment, housing and a decent standard of living and quality of life. In this day and age that level of exclusion is unacceptable.”