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New Zealand’s second Government Digital Accessibility Forum was held on on Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) was held on . The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital access and inclusion for disabled people.


To mark the occasion, the Digital Public Service branch at the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) worked together to deliver the Government Digital Accessibility Forum (GDAF) .

GDAF showcased range of accessibility initiatives in the public service. The speakers shared the progress they’re making towards building digital services that disabled people can use.

GDAF was first held in for government employees. In the event was open to the wider public which enabled agencies to showcase their efforts to make digital services more inclusive.

GDAF presentations and panel highlights

The webinar had 4 presentations from public service agencies, followed by a panel discussion.

Presentation 1: Centralised Web Accessibility Checker — Inland Revenue (IR)

Justin Parker from IR and Stu Falconer from AKQA discussed the experience of participating in the Centralised Web Accessibility Checker (CWAC) pilot programme, and the approach that IR has taken to integrate automated accessibility testing into their web development and testing processes.

Related blog: Website checker pilot puts focus on accessibility

The CWAC pilot programme was an initiative to test the feasibility and benefits of a centralised system that automatically scans public-facing government websites for accessibility barriers.

Presentation 2: Census — Stats NZ

Sebastian Boyle from Stats NZ shared the experience of making Census more inclusive, accessible and usable. 

The presentation covered Stats NZ’s approach to meeting the NZ Government Web Accessibility Standard, as well as other aspects to accessibility. For example, using plain language, and providing alternate formats like New Zealand Sign Language and Easy Read.

Web Accessibility Standard 1.1

Presentation 3: Accessibility 101 e-learning module — DIA

Casey Longstreth and Ximena Riquelme discussed the journey of creating an ‘Accessibility 101’ e-learning module for DIA staff to help them develop their accessibility knowledge. 

The e-learning module focuses on the basics of creating accessible office documents, such as Word documents. The module conveys the experiences of disabled people in the workplace when encountering accessibility barriers using stories from members of the Accessibility, Neurodiversity, Disability Network — an employee-led network within DIA.

The presentation covered the process of drafting the content, user testing, and addressing accessibility barriers in the e-learning platform.

Presentation 4: New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) mobile app

Benni Eustace from NZTA shared the process undertaken to make the new NZTA Waka Kotahi app accessible.

The NZ Government Web Accessibility Standard does not apply to mobile apps. However, the presentation demonstrated an approach that could apply many, if not all, web accessibility requirements to mobile apps to help make them more accessible for disabled people.

Get the beta NZTA Waka Kotahi App

Panel discussion

Following the presentations, a panel discussion took questions from attendees.

GDAF Panellists

  • Andrew Law, Digital Accessibility Specialist at MSD.
  • Megan Seeds, an Ian Axford Fellow in Public Policy at MSD.
  • Thomas Bryan, Accessible Information Advisor at Blind Citizens NZ.

Discussion topics

The panel discussion covered topics such as:

  • reducing the reliance on individual ‘champions’ to promote accessibility — instead, recommending robust systems and processes
  • strategies that can be used to motivate leaders to care about accessibility
  • examples of how to respond to arguments against accessibility — for example, cost implications of accessible design
  • the need for accessibility to be integrated into tertiary education courses on web design and development
  • ensuring procurement approaches promote accessible web content 
  • examples where organisations have responded well to accessibility complaints and made changes in response to feedback.

Acknowledgement and thanks

We want to acknowledge and thank everyone who attended and contributed to GDAF . If you have any questions or feedback about the event, email us at

We hope to see everyone again for GAAD .

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