Deaf New Zealanders are entitled to the same rights as any other New Zealander. When information is not provided in sign language, Deaf people are not able to participate equally in society. Confusion, misunderstanding and sometimes personal safety is threatened.

Imagine:

  • Being treated in hospital but not fully understanding the medication and treatment you are receiving.
  • Being arrested without the right to explain your side of the story in your language.
  • Experiencing a Civil Defence emergency situation (such as an earthquake) and not being able to listen to the radio or understand fully what people are saying by their lip pattern.
  • Missing out on work information (e.g. health and safety meetings).

The Deaf Community is keenly aware that we must preserve, promote and protect New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) by developing a strategy that ensures full participation in political and public life on an equal basis with others.

This equal status of Deaf New Zealanders was cemented in 2006, with the implementation of the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006 which is endorsed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The purpose of the New Zealand Sign Language Act is to promote and maintain the use of NZSL by:

  • Declaring NZSL to be an official language of New Zealand
  • Stating principles to guide government departments in the promotion and use of NZSL
  • Providing NZSL in legal proceedings and making regulations for the interpretation in legal proceedings of NZSL

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states freedom of expression and opinion and access to information and for the use of sign languages, braille or other communication tools as chosen by the person with the disability.

The World Federation of the Deaf have also produced video clips in International Sign about the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

back to top