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Team train up to provide better experience for those with visibility, hearing and mobility challenges at NPDC venues

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Ahead of New Zealand Sign Language week (8-14 May), New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) staff were putting themselves in the shoes of locals who face access barriers such as deafness, mobility and visibility issues.

Working alongside with Taranaki Disability Information Centre (TDIC), staff at NPDC's TSB Showplace and Stadium recently took part in accessibility awareness training workshops to help staff understand some of the challenges people face when using NPDC facilities and attending events.

Staff were adorned with ankle weights, earmuffs, blind folds and used wheelchairs during the training while performing tasks and navigating barriers, in an effort to mimic challenges some locals face daily.

The group also heard from New Plymouth Positive Ageing Trust chairman Lance Girling-Butcher about the difficulties he experienced when he began losing his sight 16-years ago.

NPDC Spokesperson Callum Williamson said the workshops are held several times throughout the year and are extremely important for our team to learn the needs of all types of customers using our venues.

"The accessibility awareness workshops put our staff in situations where their sense of hearing and sight were taken away," said Callum Williamson.

"It's essential we find solutions to ensure a great customer experience at our place for everyone."

NPDC also supports local organisations such as the New Plymouth based-Hearing Dogs New Zealand, which recently received funding from the Community Services and Progammes Fund.

The money will help the group keep the dogs fed and healthy while undergoing training to help deaf people live independently in their home.

In 2021 our NPDC TSB Festival of Lights receiving an Innovation award from the Federation of Disability Information Centres offering buggy tours and mobility scooters for those with mobility challenges. This offering was expanded in 2022 to include audio descriptions for each light installation.

Fast Facts

• New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Week from 8th – 14th May 2023.