Civil Defence

Since 2016 Deaf Action has been advocating for NZSL Interpreters to be included in all State of Emergency media briefings.

To date, a small number of briefings have been inclusive. There needs to be a complete overhaul of Civil Defence inclusivity of access.

15th November 2016

An Open Letter to Civil Defence, TVNZ, Ministers Hon Nikki Kaye (Civil Defence) and Hon Nicky Wagner (Disability Issues),

It is disappointing to learn that TVNZ turned down a request to have a NZSL Interpreter during their Earthquake Bulletins. Having a NZSL Interpreter present is vital for Deaf people to have access important updates and be safe during natural disasters.

During the 2011 Canterbury Earthquake, having a NZSL Interpreter on TV was a huge help that kept the NZSL community informed. It only came about due to the calls from the community at the time and once directed by the Minister was appreciated by Deaf people in Christchurch and throughout New Zealand.

TV is a primary information medium when available during natural disasters to communicate visual information during that time. Deaf people do not hear the radio and many do not have internet access.

Do you consider it acceptable that TVNZ has refused to include NZSL interpreters this time?

Will you take urgent steps to ensure TVNZ include NZSL interpreters during emergency news updates?

This morning, we were pleased to see an attempt made at the Civil Defence briefing, however it was equally disappointing to note the media personal disrespected this by blocking a clear view of the NZSL Interpreter with their arms and microphones.

– Deaf Action requests that NZSL Interpreters be provided on live emergency media broadcasts to deliver up to date information to Deaf people in NZ every time there is a Civil Defence Emergency.

– Deaf Action requests the Ministers to update any pieces of legislation covering Civil Defence Emergency Management to ensure that NZSL Interpreters are provided automatically in future emergency media broadcasts.

– Deaf Action requests all media broadcasters develop plans of media accessibility that are rigorously monitored and maintained. High standards of media behaviour where NZSL Interpreters are present needs to be maintained. NZSL in media training should be undertaken by media organisations.

– Deaf Action requests that Civil Defence undertakes a review of it’s media processes to ensure information is clearly made accessible during Civil Defence Emergencies.

– Deaf Action requests that consultation of all matters affecting Deaf persons during emergencies to be inclusive of UNCRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) accessibility principles.

Kim Robinson


Deaf Action (New Zealand)