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Category Administration and Management
Type Policy
Approved by Vice-Chancellor
Date Policy Took Effect 1 December 2016
Last approved revision 25 March 2019
Sponsor Chief Operating Officer
Responsible officer Director, Property Services


The purpose of this Policy is to ensure that, where practicable, all University of Otago buildings, grounds, walkways and car parks are accessible to students, staff and visitors with disabilities.

Under the University's Strategic Direction to 2020, ethical standards and equity are core values of the University, and, in the Strategic Imperative “Outstanding Campus Environments”, there is a specific commitment to enhance the accessibility of each campus.

Organisational scope

This Policy applies to all University of Otago owned or leased buildings and grounds in New Zealand, including outbuildings, gardens and car parks.


The degree to which a product, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible. While it is often used to describe facilities for wheelchair users, the term also extends to Braille signage, tactile paving, elevators, walkway contours and other means of support.
Accessibility Audit
A detailed assessment of an individual building carried out by a person with suitable knowledge using the relevant criteria in New Zealand building standard NSZS 4121:2001 and the NZBC.
Accessibility requirements
The accessibility requirements of the Building Act 2004 and NZS 4121:2001, and any additions or upgrades to those requirements as detailed in the University's Design & Facility Standards Document.
NZBC - New Zealand Building Code
Construction guidance published by the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment which provides 'acceptable solutions' for compliance with the Building Act 2004.
NZS 4121:2001- Design for Access and Mobility- Buildings and Associated Facilities
This is the Standard used for compliance with the requirements of the Building Act 2004 for public buildings.
University of Otago Design & Facility Standards
A guidance document which captures the University's desired standard for facilities in both new and existing building stock.  In many cases the guidance specifically sets out a more onerous standard than that of NZBC or NZS 4121:2001 to improve accessibility of facilities.


  1. The University will provide a high quality built environment that is accessible to all users as follows:
    1. All new buildings, grounds and car parks will be designed, constructed and maintained so that, at a minimum, they comply with accessibility requirements.
    2. Where significant alterations or adaptions to buildings, grounds and car parks are undertaken, the opportunity will be taken to upgrade them to meet the accessibility requirements, or as nearly as is reasonably practicable to the accessibility requirements.
    3. Where existing buildings, grounds or car parks do not comply with accessibility requirements, the University will:
      1. ensure that alternative means of access, or other locations, are provided to allow staff and students with disabilities to fully participate in their employment or education.
      2. identify, prioritise and take reasonable steps to rectify the deficiency to meet the accessibility requirements, or as nearly as is reasonably practicable to the accessibility requirements.
  2. The University will provide parking for people with disabilities in accordance with the University's Parking Policy, through:
    1. mobility parks for students and visitors with disabilities at suitable locations.
    2. lease parks for staff with disabilities at a location close to their place of work.
    3. short-term lease parks, or relocation of existing lease parks, for staff with a temporary disability.
    4. working with the Dunedin City Council to ensure that on-street mobility parks in the campus area are located appropriately.
  3. Where a student or staff member becomes affected by a disability when already at the University, the University will provide remedial measures so that, as far as practicable, they are able to continue their education or employment. These measures may include a combination of physical works and facilities, or alternative locations, as appropriate.
  4. The University will advocate for improvements to the accessibility of the wider built environment to improve accessibility to and from the campus.
  5. Accessibility information will be included in wayfinding signage, building signage and maps when new or replacement signage is installed on University buildings and grounds.  The University will also improve accessibility signage for existing facilities where reasonably practicable.
  6. In order to monitor and demonstrate compliance with this Policy, the University will undertake Accessibility Audits for all new construction (both pre- and post-construction), and for all alterations and adaptions which could affect accessibility.  Accessibility Audits will be deemed 'current' for a period of no more than 5 years from date of issue.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact:

Gordon Roy
Strategic Architect

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