Steve Ellingford is a man on a mission to set an example for shopping centres around the country.
The centre manager of Tauranga’s Bayfair Shopping Centre wants his centre to be the most accessible mall in the country and to get the first Be Accessible platinum rating for a shopping mall.
Be Accessible is an organisation devoted to making New Zealand the most accessible country in the world. It assessed buildings and organisations around the country, giving a rating between “Just starting” and “Platinum”.
Bayfair shopping centre was currently a silver-rated building, but Ellingford reckoned they could do better to ensure anyone with an access need could use the mall just as easily as an able-bodied person.
Upgrades were made two years ago when they built accessible toilets and installed new automatic doors, and further changes have continued from there.
Web and marketing materials have changed to be more user-friendly. Changes to come included new signage, new automatic doors, changes to handrails and tactile locations around lifts and lift access.
Full completion of the upgrade was expected at the end of this month.
“Accessibility is not just about people in wheelchairs. It’s about someone who’s had an accident, it could be a pregnant mum, someone who’s elderly. All of us fall into that category at some stage in life,” Ellingford said.
“We need to go the extra mile because it does impact all of us.”