Guide Dog Handlers are now empowered by a new tool to report access barriers within their community!
[Dan Shepherd and guide dog navigating rubbish bin]
For years Guide Dog Handlers have had to simply put up with access barriers within their community. The iSee Barriers 'Empowering Access Advocacy' project will equip handlers with the necessary tools to report everyday barriers - collectively contributing to a safer and accessible community for all.
In partnership with Snap Send Solve, Blind Low Vision NZ have developed a system where Guide Dog Handlers, and members of the community, can instantly report access barriers via their app. Barriers can be anything from rubbish bins blocking the footpath to taxis refusing to pick you up because you have a Guide Dog. The Snap Send Solve app will then triage reports and send to the correct Government authority or council.
Trials began last year in November 2021 and just wrapped up in February 2022. After a successful pilot in Auckland and Christchurch, Blind Low Vision NZ will then roll out the iSee Barriers project widely for all members of the community to use.
Guide Dog Handlers have the right to request reasonable accommodation as outlined in the Human Rights Act (1993). Until now there has been no system in place for people who are blind, deafblind, or have low vision to report on access barriers in their communities.
As a result, Blind Low Vision NZ cannot fully understand the extent to which inaccessibility prevents Guide Dog Handlers from participating in their community. The iSee Barriers project will collate necessary data to hold communities accountable, and to inform and drive change.
“We seek to empower our community and the wider community of people with disabilities to advocate on behalf of their access needs,” Guide Dog Handler Dan Shepherd says.
Dan, who is an advocate for the blind and low vision community, says that giving people with disabilities the power to report on access barriers is one way we can work towards social inclusion.
Blind Low Vision NZ is excited to share they've already had great success with the Christchurch City Council.
Click here to read success stories thanks to Dan Shepherd and guide dog Ezra’s participation in the iSee Barriers project so far.
If you’d like to learn more about the iSee Barriers project, Dan Shepherd and Wendy Melberg Haecker have put together this short video explaining what the iSee Barriers project entails: