The Deaf community face a number of challenges with regards to equality and access to information in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), community and social support.

Deaf Aotearoa and the Deaf community are working towards meeting these challenges, however there is still a large gap between the reality of life in New Zealand for a Deaf person and their constitutional right under the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006 and the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Disabled People.

Justice §

Deaf people must have the same rights and obligations as all citizens to equal justice.

There are a number of Deaf issues within the justice area — in particular the lack of NZSL interpreters available to assist Deaf people.

For example:

  • When a Deaf person is being questioned by police there are frequently communication issues which can result in misunderstandings.
  • In court, most lawyers can't communicate in NZSL, so their Deaf client miss out on the information they need to know about the court process.

Education §

Deaf children and their families/whanau must have equal and appropriate access to the National Curriculum and educational services, through the provision of professional staff proficient in NZSL.

To become successful, confident, educated and integrated adults in New Zealand society, our deaf children must be able to learn NZSL and develop the linguistic identity of New Zealand Deaf community.

Technology §

Recognise that Deaf have greater dependence on information and communication technology (ICT). Technology facilitates access so is not to be seen as a luxury item.

Health §

Promote access to health services for Deaf of all ages. Deaf people have the right to receive the highest standard of health care without discrimination or barriers.

Interpreters §

There must be a clear booking system and effective interpreter services. These services need to be fully funded and provide the community with competent interpreters for access to information across the spectrum.

Māori and Pacific island communities §

Recognise and promote the importance of access opportunities for Deaf people who are Māori or from the Pacific islands and their whānau/families.

Employment §

We must ensure that Deaf people have equal access to employment and economic opportunities through providing skills, knowledge and awareness.

Broadcasting and the media §

The media is vital in its role to provide and promote positive awareness of NZSL and Deaf culture.

To ensure that Deaf people are informed they need to have equal and appropriate access to various forms of broadcasting. We believe that because NZSL is an official language, news and current affairs broadcasting mediums should include some form of NZSL.

Sport §

Deaf people must have full and equal access to sporting and recreational services.

Youth §

Strengthen, unify and develop opportunities for Deaf youth in Aotearoa in order to ensure the wellbeing and positive self identity of Deaf youth.

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