Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand

Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand is a Deaf-led, not-for-profit organisation that focuses on promoting Awareness of, Access to and Advancement of New Zealand Sign Language – to help strengthen the rights of Deaf people and give them the confidence to be an active part of society.  As the only nationwide provider of services to Deaf people, it provides information on a range of services for Deaf and works with businesses and organisations to provide information and resources on life for Deaf New Zealanders and NZSL.

Visit the website for Deaf Aotearoa NZ.

Projects 2011
New Zealand Sign Language Week

Each May Deaf Aotearoa NZ organises NZSL Week – a celebration of one of the country’s official languages. 

NZSL Week helps to promote the language as well as raise awareness about New Zealand’s Deaf community and the issues/challenges its members face each day.

The week is a chance for the Deaf Community to stand proud as Deaf, and promote their language and culture. It is also a chance to break down barriers, fears and misconceptions.

This year New Zealand Sign Language Week  will be held on 2 – 8 May 2011.

NZSL Tool Kit for schools

The two organisations have developed a unique New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Tool Kit for schools, which is designed to encourage the next generation to learn one of the country’s unique and official languages.

The NZSL Tool Kit is a comprehensive teaching programme available in two parts. Part One – Introductory was released in 2009 and proved to be an instant hit, with more than 170 education centres introducing it to their students.

Building on the success of this kit, Part Two – Intermediate will be released in time for this year’s NZSL Week (2-8 May). Both kits feature a number of 45 minute lessons, following an easy to use and interactive DVD.

Stepping Ahead – Transition Programme

A programme designed to help Deaf and Hearing Impaired students move successfully from school into further education, training or work.

DEAFinitely Stepping Ahead is a programme specifically designed for Deaf or hearing impaired students in their last year or two of school who are thinking about further education, training or looking for their first job. Its aim is to help you be sure that your next steps are the right ones by checking you:

  • know all the services available to you and know how to access them
  • can quickly and easily organise NZSL interpreters and people who can work with you
  • can easily access Deaf Awareness resources
  • have strategies for effective communication and are clear about what steps you need to take
  • can access specific Deaf-related equipment (new hearing aids, alarm clocks etc) so you can be confident, independent and successful in stepping out into the world!

DEAFinitely Stepping Ahead is a programme built by you, for you.  The programme can run from 3-12 months, depending on your choice of content so there’s plenty of time for you, your family, whānau and school to complete each stage. We team you up with someone you can easily communicate with from Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand. They will then work alongside you taking the steps you need to become confident when integrating into the wider community.

Employment Service

Deaf Aotearoa provides an Employment Consultancy service for Deaf people. We can support you to find work, and continue to support you in work.

It’s a great idea for Deaf job seekers to get in touch with us. We can work with you to:

  • Match you to the right job
  • Arrange job interviews
  • Help with information on employer subsidies
  • Arrange New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) interpreters for interviews and other meetings

First of all, we’ll arrange an interview with one of our employment consultants who will create a personal plan and a job search strategy that gives you the best chance of succeeding in the job market. We can help you before you start looking for work with everything from creating CVs to helping polish your interview skills – even training to learn new skills. We are also available to attend job interviews as support if you would like us to.

Once you have found a placement we can:

  • Work with you in the early stages of building a relationship with your new employer
  • Make sure you have the equipment you need
  • Arrange interpreters for staff/team meetings
  • Provide Deaf Awareness training for your new colleagues
  • Whether it’s a part-time or full-time job, our employment consultants will work with you to find work and stay in your job/career of choice. Please contact your local Deaf Aotearoa office to make an appointment.

We’re also here to support employers and help make hiring a Deaf person as straightforward as possible. We can work with employers to:

  • Make sure health and safety requirements are met
  • Provide Deaf Awareness training for you and your staff
  • Develop effective communication strategies
  • Help book interpreters and organise job subsidies through Workbridge
  • Provide ongoing support to you and your employees as needed – including working through difficult situations such as disciplinary proceedings.

We’ll go out of our way to ease any anxieties you may have about recruiting Deaf employees. You can always contact us if you have concerns or questions. View the DEAFinitely Working for you DVD for more information.

Service Coordination

We work with Deaf clients to identify their specific needs and coordinate services to meet those needs.

Our service coordinators: 

  • Complete assessments with Deaf community members 
  • Provide immediate services where appropriate
  • Develop service plans
  • Work with ‘mainstream’ providers so they become more ‘Deaf friendly’
  • Match community members with providers who match their needs
  • Advocate for and support Deaf people
  • Help people access specialist equipment

Please contact your local Deaf Aotearoa office if you would like to meet with one of our service coordinators.

Community Relations Officers

Each of our offices has Community Relations Officers who work with the local Deaf and hearing communities. They are the main source of contact for the Deaf Community.

Their role is to:

  • Work with the Deaf community to make a difference for Deaf people in the area
  • Provide information to the Deaf community and to the hearing public
  • Make sure local organisations like the City Council are aware of Deaf people
  • Organise local events such as activities for New Zealand Sign Language Week.
  • Keep the wider Deaf community up to date with what’s happening in their area

Please get in touch if you would like to receive local newsletters or get involved in events or programmes in your area or even if you have an issue you want to see addressed to improve access to services or information to the local Deaf community:

Equipment Services

If you’re Deaf /hearing impaired or have hearing loss, we can provide Deaf-friendly equipment that will make everyday life that much easier.

The available devices include:

  • a vibrating alarm clock
  • fax machines
  • a special telephone device (TTY) that allows you to type conversations
  • a baby alarm that allows you to wake when your baby does
  • flashing lights that allow you to see when the door bell, telephone or fire alarm is ringing

Equipment is available free of charge if you meet criteria set by the Ministry of Health. We have registered assessors who will meet with you to talk through equipment options and how to get them.

Deaf Awareness Workshops

Offering Deaf awareness training to your staff will help your organisation provide the best possible service to your Deaf customers.

Deaf awareness training is your chance to:

  • Hear about the rich culture and history of Deaf New Zealanders
  • Be introduced to New Zealand’s unique and dynamic Deaf community
  • Discover essential communication tips for Deaf clients/customers
  • Acquire basic New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) signs and finger spelling
  • Learn about NZSL interpreters: who they are and how to book and work with them
  • Access resources and organisations that best serve the Deaf
  • Make your organisation ‘Deaf user-friendly’

Workshops are presented by a highly skilled, professional Deaf trainer using a very interactive delivery style. New Zealand Sign Language interpreters are available to make sure each participant is able to communicate clearly with the trainer. We work hard to make each presentation lively and interesting.

 ”It was delivered at pace, with integrity, humour and flair. We moved out of our comfort zones in a supported way and there was plenty of opportunity for meaningful interaction with the educators. I came back insisting that my colleagues have the same experience at our next national gathering.” – Human Rights Commission

Workshops can be held at your premises or ours. We have 12 offices throughout New Zealand. We offer Deaf Awareness training for:

  • Government departments
  • Service providers
  • Private sector organisations
  • Community sector organisations
  • Educational institutions
  • Programmes can be modified to meet your organisation’s specific needs.

Costs vary depending on the location, the type of organisation (e.g. community, business or government) and the number and duration of the workshops. We offer 2, 4 and 7 hour workshops as standard. Again, programmes can be modified to suit your organisation. We recommend a minimum of 10 to a maximum of 20 participants for each session to achieve an optimum learning experience. All participants receive a resource handout on completion of the workshop.

To book a workshop or to discuss your specific needs please contact our National Deaf Awareness Co-ordinator or contact any of our offices and we’ll send you Deaf Awareness information sheet and an application form.

Community Programmes

We develop Adult Community Education programmes and courses in response to the Deaf community’s learning needs. Some programmes are available on a one-to-one basis and others are held in a group setting – either locally or regionally.

The Government has recently made some changes to Adult Community Education meaning that future programmes need to focus on literacy, numeracy and the teaching of NZSL. The programmes are open to all Deaf people. Get in touch with your local Deaf Aotearoa office and tell us what Adult Community Education programme would be useful.

Over 55s

Our Service co-ordinators meet Deaf and hearing impaired Senior Citizens in most Deaf Aotearoa offices in New Zealand.  Different information is being provided to Senior Citizens for example:

What Deaf Aotearoa can assist our Deaf senior citizens with finding out what services are available to them, such as retirement plans, financial assistance and recreational outings and activities. There are also regular gatherings for Deaf Senior Citizens at the Auckland Deaf Society (in Balmoral) and Canterbury Deaf Society (in Christchurch). For the further details of gathering dates, times and physical address, contact the Deaf Societies or your local Community Relations Officer.
With fast development of technology, our Community Relations Officers will be happy to explain senior citizens in sign language how to:

  • use a mobile phone to send and receive text messages
  • understand captioning programme on television (using Teletext)
  • send and receive emails (including attaching a photo or file)
  • use the internet to find information online
  • use the Video Relay Service to make a video-phone call
New to New Zealand

Welcome to New Zealand!

Did you know that New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world that allows Deaf and hearing impaired refugees and immigrants to enter the country?

If you arrive as a refugee, you will live at Auckland’s Mangere Refugee Centre for a minimum of six weeks before settling in the wider community. Many refugees choose to settle in Auckland.

Wherever you choose to live, we’re here to help you. We have 12 offices throughout New Zealand. Our friendly skilled staff can provide advice and information and help you access the services you need to adjust to your new life New Zealand.

Visit the New Zealand Immigration website for more information on immigrating to New Zealand.

Developing Resources to ensure the participation of Deaf people in society

Deaf Aotearoa is working to develop resources that ensure the participation of Deaf people in the health sector (amongst other areas). In August 2009, Deaf Aotearoa released a DVD, Medical Professionals working with Deaf and Hearing Impaired Clients. This DVD aims to help health professionals when working with Deaf or hearing-impaired patients. Helpful tips and demonstrations included in the DVD show: 

  • how to ensure accurate two-way communication between health providers and Deaf or hearing impaired patients
  • positive interactions between health professionals and the Deaf patients
  • how to use visual aids to explain conditions or procedures
  • ways to communicate with Deaf or hearing-impaired patients – including speaking directly to the Deaf person and not using their family/friends as interpreters
  • the rights of the Deaf consumer within the Health and Disability Code.

The DVD was funded by Waitemata District Health Board and the Health and Disability Commission and is available to all health providers for free of charge. Email Deaf Aotearoa for a copy, or phone 09 828 3282.

Contact person: Kathryn Heard , Marketing and Communications Manager Email:

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