DRNZ Survey March 2017

Disability Responsiveness New Zealand (DRNZ) Survey Report

March 2017

The following is a narrative interpretation of information collected from raw data files gathered from Survey Monkey. Although 130 people responded to the survey six of these did not participate beyond the demographic questions. For this reason the six incomplete responses have been eliminated from the results reported.

Demographic Questions


Of the 124 completed surveys, 83 respondents were female and 41 were male. Their ages ranged from 19 to 75 years. 19 respondents were under the age of 40, 32 respondents were under the age of 50 and a further 59 respondents were aged between 50 and 65 years. 12 people were over the age of 65 and two people did not provide their age.


The majority of respondents identified as New Zealand European, with nine people identifying as Maori, four Pacifica and ten people identifying in the “other ethnicity” category.


Of the 124 respondents, 57 identified as disabled, 25 had a disabled family member and 17 recorded having a friend with a disability. 18 respondents reported working in the disability sector or in a related profession. Two people identified as disabled and also having a family member with impairment(s). Two people had impairments but did not identify as disabled and the 2 remaining respondents said this question did not apply to them.

Do you believe negative attitudes are still the biggest barrier to community participation by disabled people?

Most of the respondents (97) agreed that negative attitudes are still the biggest barrier to community participation by disabled people, with 27 providing comments. Four respondents noted that disabled people themselves can contribute to negative attitudes “creating barriers through a lack of self-esteem and motivation” and also through being “anxious about how members of the public will treat them”. Two respondents noted that some people with disabilities themselves demonstrate negative attitudes: portraying an element of aggressive entitlement which impacts on public attitudes toward them and other disabled people.


Many comments stated that society’s negative attitudes toward disabled people are generated through “ignorance”, “low expectations”, inaccurate and negative “beliefs” and “assumptions” about ability.  Most of these responses were expressed as continued frustration by disabled people themselves, trying to gain employment. People often experience fear and anxiety relating to disability and this sets up barriers to interaction. “The dominant and mostly unexamined assumption is that persons with intellectual disabilities do not and cannot experience the same quality of life that a non-disabled person can, leading to social exclusion on the grounds of impairment. This disadvantage is manifest in social structures, organizational practices, systems, policies, ideologies, discourses and inter-personal relationships”.

Of the 27 people who said they did not agree with the statement, many acknowledged negative attitudes as a major barrier. Comments from several people reflected the view that lack of understanding and awareness of disability and individual and cultural beliefs regarding the capabilities of disabled people was a more significant barrier.  Some respondents felt that the main barrier was the inflexibility of funding and inadequate resourcing of community focused support. Other comments identified “support systems that are structured around community providers rather than the needs of disabled people“. Furthermore, several comments related to disability services not currently being provided authentically: “by non-disabled people who can not fully understand the needs of disabled people.”

Do you think access to education and training about how to respond to the needs of disabled people would help change these negative attitudes?

The vast majority of respondents (106) agreed that access to disability responsiveness education and training would help positively change negative attitudes. A total of 22 people provided comments. Twenty-five percent of these comments noted the importance of “Informed education” delivered by “proactive disable people”, providing “first hand” and “hands on” experience of disability.  Other comments reinforced the need for responsiveness education and training noting this would go some way to reducing and perhaps even removing the fear and ignorance associated with disability, which prevents positive interactions, including employment opportunities. Two comments noted that people need to understand “how their attitudes can impact negatively on people with disabilities” and “how to change their views”. One comment expressed concern relating to inequality and lack of recognition of staff working in the disability sector.”  The final statement sums up the remaining comments:

“there needs to be a positive yet subtle socializing campaign using all mediums of influence, (television, film, radio, print media, social media, advertising, billboards, politics), to carefully build up norms and customs that communicate the expectation that people should and will work hard to recognize, honour, and find common cause for accepting and embracing our differences, in order to break down the real and perceived barriers for people with a disability within our communities. This will broaden the current narrow and socially restrictive range of identity for a person with a disability and help create a society that values the experience of disability as part of an authentic and enabling identity.”


Eighteen respondents did not think access to education and training would help change negative attitudes and 14 comments were provided. Two respondents felt that disabled people need to be empowered and supported to get involved in their communities thereby exposing society to diversity increasing their opportunity to develop connections and employment. Other comments acknowledged “sociological theory” and the power of “lived experience”, “conversation” and “storytelling” as a way to inform society. One of these comments acknowledged the success of the “Enabling Good Lives campaign”. Three respondents felt that “buy-in” was required for a successful training programme, because those who attend are usually open minded and ready to learn but those that need the training often do not attend such programmes. “Support services need the training and education, if they have the same drive and determination as the disabled person they support to succeed, then negative attitudes might diminish.

What would you like to see included in education and training about disability responsiveness?

105 comments were provided in response to this question. The largest percentage of comments indicate a desire for education and training about disability to be “lead by disabled people” who can communicate their “personal stories” and “life experiences” positively in a way that highlights “ability”,  thereby “challenging stereotypes” and assumptions related to disability.  Further comments focused on the need to help non-disabled people identify their own beliefs and “attitudes towards disability”, reflecting “on the reasons why people are uncomfortable” around disability. Other comments suggest highlighting the advantages of inclusion and accessibility for all of society.  Due to the large scope of information offered by respondents a full list of participant’s comments is provided in Appendix A.

What areas of society would benefit from disability responsiveness education and training in your opinion?

There were 111 comments reviewed and most areas of society were mentioned including: Health care professionals, service providers, local and central government, the education sector, government agencies, hospitality sector and many mentioned employers and prospective employers.

Do you have any other comments you would like to share?

There were 40 comments reviewed, most of which were thanking DRNZ for the consultation and reiterating comments already made. Here are a few examples:

“Disabled people live outside the square they have so much to share & contribute to society as every person will experience some form of disability in their lifetime and we should be accessing their expertise. I think we still have a long way to go in the fight against ignorance, stigma and discrimination in relation to people with a mental illness.”

“As well as public attitudes, I think investment is key – from government, employers etc.”

“Some of my comments may seem idealistic. 20% of our community have some kind of disability, which means the other 80% should have some contact with a person with a disability. It seems surprising that there are so many who are insensitive to persons with disabilities respect and value. I wonder if part of this problem is tied up with a society which champions achievement rather than relationship. Many people with disabilities struggle to achieve those things the public value, whether it be reading a price tag, or climbing steps, or being able to understand paperwork.”

“The identification of many gaps within current support system for people with a disability indicates that service and planning processes are in need of revaluation, if we are ever to achieve meaningful inclusion. This could entail a transformation of the way people with a disability are supported, moving from a needs-based to an outcomes-based model of support. Focusing on outcomes for individuals demands that we move away from service led approaches so that we think and act in a more self-directed and person-centred way, drawing on the person’s own assets, strengths and capacity and so establish sustainable and meaningful congruence between what services do and what the person wants to achieve.”




Appendix A

What would you like to see included in education and training about disability responsiveness?

105 comments divided into subcategories:

Disability Contact

  • People with disabilities leading the training
  • People with disabilities speaking up and leading the training.
  • People with disability talking about their experiences ways of supporting people with disability agencies where you can get support.
  • Personal stories as I believe this is what many people respond well to (told in a realistic way, not as something inspirational! LOL) videos of people such as Stella Young.
  • At the heart of disability responsiveness should be the concept of ‘acceptance of difference’ or ‘acceptance of the other’. Any training must focus upon building greater acceptance within the general public that to have a conversation / interaction with someone different, be they a disabled person or not, is not a scary thing to do, but could bring about an interesting interaction, and should focus on the aspects that each other have in common. Only from that point of accepting difference can disability responsiveness be built upon.
  • Who wrote this survey? It’s so prescriptive, the results will be a proxy for the writer’s views more than those of the respondent. The question here isn’t about educating communities, it’s about empowering choice and engagement. It’s about facilitating genuine community connections and brokering/navigating such connections for and on behalf of the person supported, then stepping away and allowing what should be a ‘natural’ network to grow in place of a ‘facilitated’ network.
    • People with disability sharing about their stories and life experiences (including challenges and successes) – Challenging stereotypes that society holds about people with disability.
  • I short documentary featuring people with disabilities who work and who are highly qualified professionals.
  • I would like a program which educates people on our abilities and that just because we have different ways of doing everyday tasks, we still get it done!
  • I would love to see more ordinary living highlighted rather than contrived sensations that hasn’t been more reference to and participation from disabled people in training sessions. Textbooks don’t say it the way we see it.
  • Real life examples of success stories.
  • Case studies about people in employment who have needed some accommodation or support and it has worked well – help people see the desired end.
  • Examples of outstanding people that have overcome disabilities to achieve ie. Paralympians, academics etc, higher profile public awareness campaign eg. Think Differently campaign, schools campaign.
  • *meeting disabled people *being confronted by the reality of being in a wheelchair, blind…
  • The fact that we are all just people like anyone else with our own specific needs. If people are not sure what those needs are, just ask.
  • More people with disabilities teaching.
  • Awareness campaign created by people living with disability.
  • Consultation directly with the disabled.
  • Disabled people together with non-disabled.
  • Interacting with people with various disabilities about the purpose and value of their lives, and roleplaying Lots of stories with appropriately facilitated discussion. a theme of how to make a point with dignity, clarity and be gracious when your point is challenged. Be human, not wild and guide people on a journey of inquisitiveness and acceptance; not one of entitlement and rights!
  • Various disabilities for a period of time, which helps them to identify personal issues, and realise it is simply part of that persons make-up, part of their physical being, not a reason to devalue their personhood.
  • More disabled speakers in the schools. Unfortunately the word disability makes you think you can see the barrier, and more often than not the disability that is not seen is the one that has the barrier.

Attitude Awareness

  • I really enjoy the UK ‘Ending the Awkward’ campaign. I like that it is light and funny and just talks about all the awkward situations people have experienced. And gives non-disabled people an insight into how to handle a situation that they may feel awkward in. Great campaign.
  • Understanding of their own values and Myths.
  • How to be ok with uncomfortableness and ask rather than do for others.
  • Myth busting about employment of disabled people.
  • Innovative projects that addresses the stigma that still exists and those that promotes the inclusion of disabled people and whanau in society.
  • Attitudes along with access needs in the broadest sense. Maybe some time looking at their own attitudes towards disability and some work on the reason why people are uncomfortable. Also time spent in looking at the positive aspects of impairment e.g. the need for forward planning, working with others, thinking laterally and problem solving.
  • How people with disabilities are discriminated against in our health sector and wider society.
  • More information about breaking down communication barriers.
  • A place where people can ask questions in a safe environment. They can talk about the things that make them worried or anxious when communicating with a disabled person.

Advantage  Awareness

  • I would like to see it presented in a positive light. The trainings I have been to almost make you feel guilty or you are made to feel bad about being able bodied.
  • Making a better place for everyone not just disability focused.
  • benefits to the community of making all everyday facilities fully accessible.
  • Disabled are “normal” people.
  • The ‘normalness’ of disability; how designing with disability in mind benefits everyone.
    • Social model of disability – Human rights – Attitudes – Business and disability – getting the disability dollar – Employment and disability – Community living and disability (can incorporate elements such as disability support services, accessible housing, transport, health, education, sexuality/relationships/dating, recreation, leisure and sporting participation etc) – Government and disability .
  • Communication, looking at the person as a whole not just their disability, being flexible and thinking outside the box, and maybe some info on funding and what support is available.
  • Barriers and what disabled can do not can’t.
  • Compassion, friendship, follow-up, training, respect, positive interpretation, resources easily available.
  • More education and training. I like to see more people with a disability to have paid work.

Hidden disabilities

  • I wish I could tell you, but I suppose it’s the old “Not every disability is visible” chorus.
  • (Make How to respond to a person with a disability I have a head injury it is a hidden disease because of that we are expected to behave but our emotions are all over the place we are expected to be normal when we are not
  • Information about mental health disorders Every town get a booklet or have a night meeting on this subject might help?
  • communication issues; how to communicate with non-verbal children and adults; how to see the potential in people that may not seem obvious to you
  • An overview of different types of disability. Many communities have the perception that anyone with a disability has a mental health illness and therefore communities feel threatened and unsafe
  • specifically Bi-Polar affective Disorder) and how to help and support those affected

Physical Disabilities

  • More understanding and easier access
  • Better access to buildings for mobility impaired
  • I would like to see people have to use a wheel chair for a day, or have another disability so they can understand the challenges
  • Education on accessibility for persons that have disabilities, lots of people do not understand the difficulties of having physical disability
  • Information to businesses about access for people with disabilities, the minimum standards are often good enough for wheelchair access, bathroom facilities etc

Education Sector

  • Better one on one support at school and better support in the training ins
  • Improved training for teachers, employers
  • early intervention at school level where school kids are exposed to people with disabilities
  • Children mixing with disabled people in their schools, community so they learn from a young age how to include.
  • better training for teachers in their learning stage at teachers training college, also better acceptance for other children who have not been exposed to people with a disability, as not all disabilities are visual


  • Confidence for those who have acquired a disability as an adult, rather than from birth or from a young age. Also public speaking for the adult acquired in particular. We have not gone thru school with disabilities so we have not learnt the alternative solutions and confidence/self-worth that others seem to have.
  • More Maori and Pacific specific information focussed on destigmatisation
  • More people aware of it. Make it a main course
  • Media training, then media training and finally media training!!!
  • Adverts through the media showing disabled people in everyday situations especially working. The TV programme, Attitude Live do an awesome job at promoting awareness and education
  • Ways of making information, websites, documents fully accessible. I think that technology can be a great thing but I still come across websites and documents which are full of graphics etc which make it impossible for me to read them.
  • lots of practical situations where the public have to get involved
  • How to job carve and education on the evidence that impaired people in the workplace actually increase productivity and an nations overall GDP-NZ needs more of this research for evidence based practice
  • How to approach different disabilities and understanding what type of communication is appropriate
  • Facts about the abilities of people with impairments. Information about barriers that exist for different types of impairment. Ways to advocate for change.
  • Sensitivity training to various disabilities is the most important part of this
  • The cultural aspect.
  • How to include disabled people in governing boards and management teams.
  • Awareness training
  • Better awareness to the extra needs and abuse of people with disabilities.
  • Awareness of the “little things” that have a big impact on how well a disabled person can function.
  • that the word disability covers a huge massive range of impairments – people’s perceptions of those with disabilities needs to change were not all dribbling wheelchair bond retards that people think of when they hear the word “Disability”
  • That people with a disability be treated like a normal human being and that the disability is just another part of the person.
  • How we can develop friendships. Society, at all levels, has great difficulty in successfully and sustainably integrating a person with a disability into both public and private affairs. It goes beyond policy and legislation to a fundamental acceptance of difference at the most primary level, that even some parents struggle with. “The goal of inclusion ultimately raises not only a question for our agencies and organizations, but also for ourselves as human beings: namely, the question of what we think of the good life for ourselves as human beings, and whether there is a place for people with ID in that life. I propose that this is the real challenge that people with ID pose for us, i.e. not so much what we can do for them, but whether or not we want to be with them. Ultimately, it is not citizenship, but friendship that matters.” Licia Carlson, The Faces of Intellectual Disability, Philosophical Reflections.
  • training in advocacy
  • Information to appropriate resources and support
  • I think the support for those people that do not understand about disabilities – make them more aware. educate people public transport to support people with disabilities
  • Easily understood fact sheets.
  • How to respond to them. The different types
  • Greater information and understanding of needs
  • Education and training needs to be given so that people with disabilities are listened to and treated with respect.  We are all people and should not be ignored.
  • A compulsory day in court on sentencing day: knowing lots of offenders have a neuro disability.
  • Very basic stuff about recognising the different disabilities people live with. Simple training about not pushing blind people ahead of you when you escort them, and not yelling at deaf people unless they say it’s OK. If we could stop people nodding and shaking their heads in the presence of the visually-impaired and encourage the use of expressive speech, that would also be good.
  • Removing the ‘other’ perception
  • honestly earned.
  • I feel that would be a wonderful idea.
  • (not so) discrete enquires to local government about their policies on hiring disabled people. Human Rights Com involvement, perhaps.
  • You cannot put people into a box marked disability
  • Nothing, perhaps enhance recruitment practice
  • Information for employers and colleagues
  • That not everyone who has a disability is deaf or blind!!!or intellectually impaired
  • Simple advice as to how to design disability responsiveness into main stream service provision.
  • Community access, providing opportunities, supports available to employers to ensure an accessible work environment. Education and access at schools
  • Comprehensive education that shows that disabled people are human beings with hearts that can be hurt…
  • Telling people to talk to the person and not their supporter.
  • That service providers be trained across the disability sector as the modern day children have complex needs- not one disability. Stop separating the person into categories of disabilities as they are part of the whole person
  • Attitudes, Language, Respect
  • Easy read books
  • More support and understanding for the person with a disability
  • yes please
  • Not sure
  • Same as question six.
  • As per question 6
  • Unsure