"No fear factor" about disability

"No fear factor" about disability

The formation of a network for disabled staff at Inland Revenue snowballed out of a desire to move beyond a “one click, one size fits all” mentality.

As the agency transformed its business systems, IR delegate Steve Bradley recognised the need to cater for disabled staff and taxpayers who use specialised technology.

“I thought but what about people that don’t use a mouse.”

The idea for a disability network grew from there and it was launched in March last year.

“I made some initial noises and then other people have come on board and contributed massively,” Steve says.


CMYK Steve Bradley dog

Steve's dog, Hadley

The IR network is keen to let staff know there should be “no fear factor” about having a disability, and network members will soon be able to advocate for disabled staff to ensure their needs are met.

“If you think a special keyboard or screen reader might help, you should feel comfortable to ask for one.”

Steve has been nearly blind since he was a teenager due to glaucoma, and has a guide dog to assist with his disability.

He acknowledges IR’s support of the network and its development of other initiatives such as a portal for disabled staff to apply for technology, and the allocation of funds for that technology.

 “We would also like to see more promotion across the Public Service so we can bring together all the good things each department is doing,” Steve adds.


Meanwhile, the PSA Deaf and Disabled Network is calling for more accessible workplaces, as statistics show disabled people earn less than half the income of the non-disabled.

The median income for disabled people is about $400 a week, compared with $900 for the non-disabled. Disabled people are also less than half as likely to be employed at all.

The PSA Deaf and Disabled Network wants to see consistent accessibility standards implemented across the public service for both staff and clients.

“Our network committee wants to see the barriers that keep disabled people out of jobs torn down,” network spokesperson Glenn Walker says.

Inaccessible workplaces make it difficult for many New Zealanders to pursue employment options or access government services.


The PSA supports calls to strengthen accessibility requirements in the Building Code.

"Our committee believes it’s more cost effective to get accessibility right from day one,” Glenn says.

"Disabilities don’t always hold people back, but badly designed cities and offices definitely do."

Almost one in four New Zealanders have a disability, and the PSA Deaf and Disabled Network currently has over 800 members.

Glenn says disabled people have knowledge and skills that can be used to help build systems that work for them.

“A great start would be for the health system to hire more deaf and disabled people. Nothing about us, without us.”

We’ll have more from the Deaf and Disability Network about how accessibility issues have affected them in future editions of Te Mahinga Ora.

 Main photo caption: IR delegate Steve Bradley

Also in this issue:

News in Brief

In our News in Brief, Pasefika representation is being implemented across our union, we announce a new Māori leadership role, and acknowledge the anniversary of the March 15 attacks.

Read More

President's Message

Kia ora e te whānau o Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi

Read More

Nevertheless we're Persisting!

The theme for our Women’s Network Conference in March was to have been ‘Nevertheless She Persisted’.

Read More

"I found it very easy"

A year into the global pandemic, the roll out of vaccinations is being welcomed by many workers on the frontline.

Read More

Saving our Libraries

The PSA has helped defeat a proposal to partially-privatise Wellington library and slash its budget.

Read More

Bridging the Digital Divide

Imagine a world where you can’t just jump online to apply for jobs, access services or communicate with friends or family.

Read More

“It’s not easy opening your hearts up”

The opening hearings in the Waitangi Tribunal’s Mana Wahine Inquiry have heard powerful kōrero about the power, authority and status held by wāhine Māori in pre-colonial Aotearoa.

Read More

Hard won recognition

An interim equal pay agreement for DHB administration and clerical workers is being greeted with a mixture of satisfaction and relief.

Read More

“We’ve come a long way”

Ten years on from the February 22 earthquake we reflect on the challenges faced by our members in Canterbury as they helped their community to rebuild.

Read More

Summer Snaps Competition

We’ve had a great response to our PSA Plus Holiday Homes Photo competition with some quality snaps making it hard to choose a winner.

Read More

Fight back in Myanmar

The military coup in Myanmar has deeply shaken hopes for democracy but public servants and unions are fighting back.

Read More

Plea for more sick leave

PSA home support members have told a parliamentary select committee they need more sick leave to keep themselves and their clients safe.

Read More

What do we want from health & disability review?

As we await the Government’s response to the health and disability sector review, we asked our PSA Community Public Services and DHB sector committees what they’re looking for.

Read More

Leading the Way

It may say something about Brad Hedger’s commitment to the union that he agreed to speak to Working Life about his role as a PSA delegate just days before his wedding.

Read More

Climate Talk

New Zealand is stealing from the peoples of the Pacific. We are stealing their land, their homes, their water, and in doing so, we are jeopardising their future.

Read More

Challenging the Norm

Working mum Pip Bennett decided to research gender norms after becoming frustrated that everything was being left to her.

Read More

Men raising boys

A new book has inspired PSA member and stay-at home dad Aaron Packard to consider how we can help men to be more hands-on fathers

Read More

#My Mihi challenge

Learning a language is about starting out small and taking that first step.

Read More

Around & About

The Pride March in Auckland features among the events in our PSA picture page for this issue.

Read More

Big Brother Bosses - should you be worried?

Imagine you’re using a computer. Someone else installed software on it, and uses it to track your keystrokes, learn your password and access your personal email account.

Read More