Part of a Whole

My name is Nicolas Steenhout.
I speak, train, and consult about inclusion, accessibility and disability.

NZ Will Increase Online Service Delivery – Don’t Forget People With Disabilities

The article “Hi-tech threat to public servants” on stuff.co.nz discusses how the New Zealand Government is planning on moving more of its services online and do away with employees more and more. The article mentions how such a move would impact elderly Kiwis and families on low-income, but does not mention at all how it would impact people with disabilities.

I am in favour of providing more services online. After all, I presented a paper on this very topic at the Otago Disability Studies conference in November 2011. But it shouldn’t be at the expense of quality of service, and availability of service.

Online services must be accessible to all – including people with disabilities. Unfortunately, various NZ Government departments and Crown Entities have a poor history of providing accessible websites, despite the New Zealand Government Web Standards whose “major focus is enhancing government website accessibility for people with disabilities“.

I want to say that the NZ Government cannot implement such a move to online service provision without ensuring that the services are accessible to people with disabilities. But they can, and probably will. Shame. I wonder if accessibility even is on the agenda.

Time will tell.