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Hi everyone,

I hope you’re all well and staying warm over the winter.

There’s been some exciting news in the disabilities space, with New Zealand set to join the Marrakesh Treaty and the launch of the State of the Sector report: A youth perspective on Invisible Disabilities. I’ve also included guidance about disability assist dogs in this newsletter. Stay tuned for an update on progress with the disability support system transformation later this month. 

New Zealand to join the Marrakesh Treaty

Minister Jacqui Dean and I were thrilled to announce that New Zealand will join the Marrakesh Treaty. This is an international treaty to improve access to written materials for blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled people.
Currently around 90 per cent of written works are not published in accessible formats such as braille.

The Marrakesh Treaty improves access by enabling more organisations and individuals to be able to produce and provide works in an accessible format without breaching copyright laws. This includes the cross-border exchange of copyright works in accessible formats between countries party to the treaty.

Many in the disability community have pushed for New Zealand to join this Treaty, and I thank them for their tireless advocacy.

The next step is for the Marrakesh Treaty to go through the Parliamentary treaty examination process. Legislative changes will also be required.

How to recognise a Disability Assist Dog

I’m sure many of you are already very familiar with disability assist dogs, but I’ve heard that some disabled people have experienced discrimination recently when trying to access facilities with their assist dogs.

That’s not on, so I thought I would provide some guidance about disability assist dogs.

A disability assist dog is a dog certified by specified organisations, as being trained to assist a disabled person. This doesn’t just include guide dogs. People with many different disabilities can benefit from an assist dog, including Deaf people, people with autism and people with physical disabilities.

Owners are allowed to take their disability assist dogs to places such as hotels, restaurants, shops, and any public places. Disability assist dogs are issued with identification cards or tags, and some also wear a coloured jacket to help with recognition.

In the workplace, employers need to ensure that they make any reasonable accommodations needed to ensure people (disabled or not) can do their job. This could include allowing a disability assist dog on their premises. As a bonus when the disability assist dog is on a break the rest of the team may also get to play with them!


A disability assist dog (Credit: Assistance Dogs New Zealand Trust).

Launch of the State of the Sector report: A youth perspective on Invisible Disabilities

On 29 June 2017 I hosted the launch of A State of the Sector Report 2017: A Youth Perspective on Invisible Disabilities at Parliament with YES Disability and The Cube Invisible Disabilities Collective.


The report was prepared by Dr Annick Janson, and is based on New Zealand youth and their family’s experience of life with an invisible disability.

On the night we heard some very moving stories from the speakers. Highlights included a poem by Winnie from Kapiti College about her experiences growing up with dyslexia and Shane Cortese’s story of coming to accept and value his son’s autism.

If you want a copy of the report you can email Sonia Thursby, Chief Executive of YES Disability at


Nicky with presenters Julie Woods and Richard Benge.


All the best,

Hon Nicky Wagner
Minister for Disability Issues

Phone: +64 4 817 8227 | Fax: +64 4 473 0469
Freepost: Parliament Buildings, Wellington 6160, New Zealand


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