Timaru buildings need improved disabled access, says a regional disability advocate.
"There's a problem and we need to do something about it," said CCS Disability Action's upper south regional manager Ruth Teasdale. "It's not equal (access) and it's not being treated with the same respect as everyone else."
The call for better access comes on the heels of the Government's announcement on Monday that a review into building access for disabled people had begun.
"It's been a long time coming," Ms Teasdale said. "Not being able to get in, in the first place, is the worst. There's quite a bit of that about."
Barrier Free adviser B J Clark audits buildings in the South Canterbury region and believes the Timaru District faces challenges because of its hilly landscapes and old buildings.
"It does not make it easy," Mr Clark said.
"Removing steps by having level entry, that's the important thing, to get someone into the building. Businesses really need to understand that people with disabilities have money in their back pockets. If they can't get in the door, they can't spend their money."
Mr Clark said when auditing a building, he was looking at how easily a person with a disability could get from a car park to their destination, including a particular department in a shop.
"When you talk about access, people immediately go to wheelchair-bound people, but that's not the case," he said.
Mr Clark said access needed to be available for all kinds of disabilities, including people with temporary disabilities who are in casts or on crutches and blind people. Improved access would also benefit mums with prams.
Also on Monday, Green MP Mojo Mathers and members of Earthquake Disability Leadership launched a nationwide petition that would look into the needs of disabled people.
- © Fairfax NZ News