Learning Abroad Center

Accessibility: University of Otago

Program website

Learn about University Study in New Zealand: University of Otago.


The New Zealand Disability Strategy is vital to the well-being of the one-in-five New Zealanders who identify that they have a long-term impairment. By implementing the Strategy, New Zealand will become a more inclusive society, eliminating the barriers to people with disabilities participating in and contributing to society.

The Strategy has the vision of a society that highly values the lives and continually enhances full participation of people with disabilities. It provides an enduring framework to ensure that government departments and agencies consider disabled people before making decisions.

The University of Auckland is committed to developing a culture and environment that is inclusive of the needs of individuals with disabilities.

Legislation that protects the rights of persons with disabilities in New Zealand:

NZ4121 2001 Access standard and 1991 Building Act legislate building standards for people with disabilities.

According to the Human Rights Act 1993, it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of disability. The Human Rights Act covers disabilities, which people have presently, have had in the past, or which they are believed to have. It is also unlawful to discriminate against relatives or associates of people with a disability, because of that disability. 

The Health and Disability Commissioner Act 1994 promotes and protects the rights of health and disability consumers and facilitates the fair, simple, speedy, and efficient resolution of complaints.

The New Zealand Disability Strategy recognizes the need to address access for individuals with disabilities. One in five New Zealanders has a long-term impairment. Many are unable to reach their potential or participate fully in the community because of barriers they face doing things that most New Zealanders take for granted. The barriers range from the purely physical, such as access to facilities, to the attitudinal, due to poor awareness of disability issues.

The aim of the New Zealand Disability Strategy is to eliminate these barriers wherever they exist.

Kia Orite Achieving Equity New Zealand Code of Practice for an Inclusive Tertiary Education Environment for Students with Impairments supports one of the key contributions of the tertiary education system as outlined in the Tertiary Education Strategy 2007/12 - "success for all New Zealanders through lifelong learning", and, in particular, the focus on "ensuring maximum educational opportunity for all New Zealanders".

The Ministry of Education and the Tertiary Education Commission supported the development of this Code of Practice by the tertiary education sector. It is expected that the Code will inform the activities of both tertiary education organisations and the Tertiary Education Commission in identifying, understanding and responding to the diverse needs of students with impairments.

Classroom and Academics

Disability Information and Support (DI&S) offers support to International Students. It is important that you check in advance to ensure DI&S is able to meet your specific requirements. Be sure that the University can provide you with the type and level of support you are used to and that the Alternative Examination Arrangements meet your particular requirements. It is also important to bring with you full documentation outlining any learning support needs as well as any other relevant medical documentation. If you are reliant on technology you should check that your technology is compatible with that used in NZ and that back-up or repairers are available. If you take medication, check that it is available in NZ.

If you have any questions contact the Learning Support Manager of Disability Information & Support.

All information provided to Disability Information and Support is confidential and will not be released without a students express permission. The support received from the Disability Information and Support is not documented on a student’s academic record. If a student is an international student there MAY be charges for some forms of support services. Intending students need to check in advance with the University of Otago.

Services Disability Information & Support provide include:

  • Assistance with Enrollment
  • Orientation
  • Arranging Accessible Lecture Theatres and Tutorial Rooms
  • Reformatting of Print Materials
  • Note-taking Service
  • Arranging for Sign Language Interpreters for Deaf Students
  • Additional One-to-one Tutorials
  • Equipment Pool
  • Library, Laboratory and Field Work Assistants
  • Alternative Examination Arrangements
  • Mobility Parking

Excursions and Field Trips

Excursions and field trips depend on individual instructors and classes. Students should talk with their instructors and DI&S staff as soon as possible to determine appropriate accommodations.

Housing and Food Services

Part of the "real" student experience involves living near the main University campus, either in a student flat or in a residential hall or college. Most of the student population is accommodated within minutes of the University of Otago. This gives the North end of Dunedin a thriving subculture.

Being able to live close to campus and town can be especially important to a person with a disability. If you require accessible transport to get around, are easily fatigued, have difficulty walking long distances, or finding your way around, living close to campus could be beneficial. Other factors may need to be considered, for example size of bedrooms, main roads with out pedestrian crossings or traffic lights to be crossed, curbing in streets, or proximity to a bus stop.

Residential College’s vary in the facilities they provide for students with disabilities. It is important that students check that the particular Residential College can meet their specific needs before accepting a place. Disability Information & Support Staff are happy to assist at any time.

The University owns a number of flats, some of which have been adapted to meet the needs of people with physical disabilities. Currently there are four properties which are fully adapted for students who use wheelchairs. These flats are close to campus, have wet area showers, low benches, and other adjusted kitchen facilities. The University also owns two properties which have been adapted for students who are blind. Adaptations include hand railings and high fences for guide dogs. If you are thinking about going flatting it may be possible to adapt one of the University owned flats to meet your needs. In this case you must express your interest to the Manager, Disability Information and Support as early as possible the year before you wish to go flatting. For further information about accommodation, contact the Accommodation Office or the Manager, Disability Information and Support.


Available adaptive technology includes:

  • JAWs screen reader software (text-to-speech)
  • ZoomText screen magnification software
  • Ruby software. This programme reads print material out loud, with the option to save the information as an electronic file.
  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking (Professional and Preferred) voice recognition software (speech-to-text).
  • MathTalk, a software programme that assists students when dictating mathematical and statistical format
  • CCTV - screen magnification
  • RUBY Text to Voice

Library Services

All libraries at the university are wheelchair accessible. Also, a library assistant can be available to retrieve resources for students (contact DI&S for more information). 


The campus is compact so students are able to walk or wheel to get around campus.

Additional Comments

From Disability Information and Support:

Students using Disability Information and Support (DI&S) do not need to see themselves as ‘disabled’ in order to receive support. DI&S recognises that students with depression and other mental health conditions, specific learning difficulties, medical conditions, chronic illness, temporary injuries, visual, hearing, and mobility impairments, as well as those who are Deaf, may require additional resources or assistance while studying.

Because you are an individual with your own requirements, our services are organized around meeting those rather than focusing on the type of impairment or condition you might have.