Think the accessibility world isn’t relevant to you? Think again. One in five New Zealanders lives with a disability of some kind. Add to this an aging population, families with young children and those with a temporary injury or illness, and you have a significant proportion of New Zealanders with access needs.
The Big Event is the biggest accessibility expo in the country. Over 6,000 people attended the inaugural event in 2012, and this year’s free event at Greenlane’s ASB Showgrounds on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 April is set to be even bigger.
The concept of The Big Event was developed by the Auckland Disability Providers Network. The idea came to chairman Chris Ross, who was repeatedly hearing people in the accessibility community say they didn’t know where to go to access new products and services.
“These products and services can make one’s life more accessible, so we decided it was time to get all the key players into one place,” he says. “The idea grew from there and following the success of the 2012 event, it became obvious there is a real need to make this information widely available in New Zealand.”
Over 100 exhibitors will share products and services at The Big Event. For innovators who participate, there is the opportunity to win an award for best accessibility invention, with the prize being help to develop and mass-produce the winner’s service or product.
A dedicated youth area will be set up to give young people the opportunity to try a range of exciting activities, including rock-climbing, basketball, surfing and a horizontal bungy. Like the rest of the event, participation in these activities is free. The idea is for youth, both able-bodied or with a disability, to join in and try activities they may have not experienced before. The youth area is being run by The Cube, Halberg Trust, Special Olympics and Paralympics New Zealand, with information and assistance being given at each of the stations.
Five art therapy students in their final year at Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design have created a sensory space for all who visit the expo. For those who have ever wondered what it’s like to have impairment, the sensory deprivation simulator will allow visitors to experience movement with no sight or sound.
Student Tania Blomfield says it has been both a challenge and a lot of fun putting the sensory space together.
“As well as the sensory deprivation simulator, there are challenges for participants involving smell, touch and vision, and the opportunity to return to childhood and get your hands dirty.”
New to The Big Event this year is an art exhibition featuring 45 works by New Zealand artists faced with some form of disability (physical or mental). Auckland’s Spark Centre was asked to curate the exhibition, the theme of which is perception.
Director of the Spark Centre of creative development, Suzanne Vesty, says the centre received 86 artwork submissions to feature in The Big Event’s perception exhibition. After a rigorous critiquing process, the top 45 works were selected. All artwork displayed at The Big Event is available for purchase, and many of the artists will be present to discuss their works and the creative process.
What: The Big Event – Expo & Marketplace
Date: Friday 5 and Saturday 6 April 2013
Time: 10am – 4pm
Location: ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane, Auckland