Accessibility details go online

Outdoor adventures will be more accessible for people with varying levels of mobility, thanks to a new website.

Dunedin is one of the first places to be mapped on the new Accessibel website, which shows people the accessibility of walkways, waterways, and cycleways.

Announcing the website during a visit to Dunedin yesterday, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said spending time outdoors was crucial for wellbeing, but a lack of information about accessibility was a barrier for people with mobility or disability issues.

"For some people, planning their next trip outdoors can be as simple as picking a spot on a map, checking the weather, leaving intentions and packing the right supplies.

"For those with mobility or disability considerations there are many other factors to consider.

"Is the walkway wheelchair or pram friendly? Are there barriers between the car park and track? What is the surface of the track like? Will there be suitable toilets?

Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Halberg Foundation lead adviser Bridget Meyer check out...
Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Halberg Foundation lead adviser Bridget Meyer check out the new Accessibel website at Woodhaugh Gardens yesterday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON

 

"Accessibel will be able to give people that information before they’ve left the comfort of home and help them plan future adventures."

The website was launched by the Halberg Foundation, Sensibel and the Department of Conservation.

Initially, places in Dunedin and Christchurch were profiled, with a plan to extend it throughout New Zealand.

Accessibel had been about three years in the making.

In 2016, Doc and the Halberg Foundation sought to understand a Great Walk experience from the perspective of a disabled person, other track users, and from an infrastructure perspective.

The late Merle Bradley, an avid tramper until her diagnosis of motor neuron disease, traversed part of the Abel Tasman Great Walk using an all-terrain wheelchair with a support crew.

That trial led the partners to a workshop with older people and people living with disabilities, to understand their needs and aspirations in the outdoors.

Added to this was lots of thinking and exploration from Christchurch software developer Carl Pavletich and his company, Sensibel.

The Dunedin City Council was one of the initial funders for the product development, alongside the Central Lakes Trust and the New Plymouth City Council.

During her visit to Dunedin yesterday, Ms Sage also met Aquinas College students and members of Town Belt Kaitiaki to discuss trapping projects.

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