HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 593: 7 December2011

Buildings to be accessible to the disabled
The Cook Islands government has endorsed its report on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to be presented to the United Nations as part of its obligation since its ratification on 8 May 2009.

In this article we set out what our report says about access to buildings by the disabled.
Part 4 of the Disability Act 2008 provides a legislative requirement for all buildings and facilities to be accessible for persons with disabilities. The maximum penalty for an infringement of this provision is a fine of $100,000 and $10,000 per day for each day of the offence in reference to section 40 of the Act.
The Cook Islands National Building Code outlines specific requirements on accessibility for persons with disabilities. It stated that access for people with disabilities must be provided to buildings by means of continuous path of travel – (a) from the boundary allotment; from any car park space on the allotment (whether within or outside the building) – (i) that is set aside for people with disabilities using the building; or (ii) if there are no car park spaces set aside for them, from any car park area that serves the building; and (c) from any other building on the allotment to which access for people with disabilities is required.
Parts of building to be accessible: (a) access for people with disabilities must be provided – (i) from the doorway at the entrance floor providing access to any sanitary compartment required for the use of people with disabilities; and (ii) to areas normally used by occupants, excluding any plant room, commercial kitchen, cleaners store room, maintenance access way, rigging loft, or the like; (b) a path of travel providing required access must not include a stairway, turnstile, revolving door, escalator or other impediment which would prevent a person in a wheelchair using it; (c) access, finishes and fittings, including passageways, ramps, step or kerb ramps, passenger lifts, signs, doorways and other parts of the building.
However, there is a need to further enforce the implementation of the national Building Code. Inclusive in this process is the need to review the Building Code so it is aligned with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and national policies and legislation on disability.
Part 4 of the Disability Act 2008 requires that all public buildings being erected or altered must also provide ways of accessing, parking provisions and sanitary facilities for persons with a disability who may be expected to visit or work in that building.
The Cook Islands National policy on Disability and National Action Plan 2008-2012 (as provided in the Disability Act 2008) is targeted towards dealing with issues regarding audit. There is no legislation which provides for the technical guidelines.
Plans are underway for a disability audit for all public buildings and facilities. This will be done jointly with Cook Islands National Council for Disability and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The result of this disability audit will provide the necessary information to enhance access for persons with disabilities in all public buildings and facilities.

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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