Guest blog by Julie Woods

Blind activist Julie Woods tells us about 'The Accessibility Game', how it works and why it matters.

When I challenged the Southern DHB on the statistic that 93% of their staff had received disability awareness training, I didn’t expect the response I got.

“What do you want to do about it?” they asked.

“Well” I spluttered, “I have a tool I have created called the WHY NOT game based on my response to going blind, I guess I could make it disability focused and we could call it The Accessibility Game.”

So that is what I did. When I went blind in 1997 I got asked to go cross country skiing. After turning the opportunity down, I went home and sat on the couch and realised I wasn’t going to make a very good blind person if I turned down opportunities that came my way. I decided right there and then I would no longer say “no” to things people asked me to do. Initially I said “why not” to “Do you want to learn to touch type? “Do you want to learn braille?” “Do you want to be a guest speaker at our donor function Julie?”

But then…

A few years later in 2004, I said “why not” to “Do you want to referee a game of nude touch rugby?” This provided me with the chance to dress up, blow a whistle and issue red, yellow and pink cards at a match played in Dunedin between the Nude Blacks and England.

I decided to incorporate the blind ref concept into The Accessibility Game and use pink cards for impairments, asking what barriers people with these impairments faced in accessing service, along with red and yellow cards for teaching ableism, the red cards for the more serious acts of casual ableism that discriminate against disabled people every day.

Also included in the game are 20 questions for players to say “why not” to, questions that move them closer to the disability sector, “Do you want to visit Special Olympics?” “Do you want to listen to a podcast on disability?” “Do you want to learn NZ sign language?”

A pathway is then set, if players say “why not” to five questions they become an Access Supporter, 10 an Access Champion and 20 an Access Ambassador.

One thing the Southern DHB and I both agreed on was that if people were going to turn up to a disability awareness workshop then it had to be fun. For some people disability is something to be afraid of, so I hope by making it fun it would be easier to say “why not” to!

If you’d like to find out more about The Accessibility Game coming to you and your organisation then please contact me on the details below.

Alternatively you can listen here to an interview on Otago Access Radio with OAR FM host Jeff Harford speaking to me about the game.

Nga mihi nui ki a koe.



Julie Woods