Accessible public places and spaces

We have the opportunity to create some of the world’s most accessible and livable cities, right here in Aotearoa.

The Accessibility Charter, established by Barrier Free NZ Trust, gives organisations an opportunity to lead the implementation of best practice accessible design in their communities.

Organisations committing to the Charter will contribute to the creation of barrier-free public destinations and journeys that work for everyone – benefitting business, tourism, economic development, whānau, iwi, and the health and wellbeing of local people.

Register your interest!


It starts in Canterbury

Ōtautahi-Christchurch has a unique opportunity to rebuild a city where all people, including disabled people, older people and young families, can move around independently and freely.

Barrier Free NZ Trust initiated the Accessibility Charter to go beyond the minimum accessibility compliance expectations of the Building Code and ensure the development of public buildings and outdoor spaces that are genuinely barrier free. The Earthquake Disability Leadership Group is supporting the roll-out of the Accessibility Charter in Canterbury.

With several key public organisations already on board, will yours be next? Help us lead the way towards a more inclusive, fully accessible Ōtautahi-Christchurch by committing to implementing the Accessibility Charter.

Become a signatory

Barrier-free design works for us all

Barrier-free design is about making buildings accessible for everyone.

Disabled people, older people, those with injuries or illnesses and families with young children can all visit a barrier-free space with their friends and whānau. Including more people means a bigger customer base, which is good for business, economic development and tourism.

Universal design future-proofs buildings by providing spaces that can be used by anyone for any purpose as the needs of the community change. Designing buildings to meet best practice accessibility standards from the start is more cost effective than retrofitting for accessibility later, when compliance demands it. Developing barrier-free places and spaces positions organisations as inclusive, community leaders.

Status quo won’t future-proof our cities

Why are our public places and spaces not already fully accessible?

We can do better to ensure we can all use our communities equally. We need to raise the bar and go beyond minimum compliance. Current legislation requires only minimum accessibility to get consent. This can still include a barrier filled path of travel to, through and out of a building, meaning that an older person, disabled person or young family will be required to seek support or take a different route than their friends and whānau.

If technical universal design expertise was consistently sought during every design and build, our public buildings and outdoor spaces would be barrier-free and future-proof. Universal design is a technical discipline that works alongside engineering and other professional disciplines. More can be done to ensure that universal design consultation consistently occurs in practice and that the technical specifications which make a design universally accessible are understood.

More research and education needs to be provided so that those developing public places and spaces understand how people with disabilities use buildings and outdoor spaces.
The Accessibility Charter will address these factors.

Our founding signatories

Did you know?

Approximately 15 percent of the global population has a disability – that’s a big pool of potential tourists that we don’t want to miss out on!

– World Health Organisation