News & Updates

15th March 2017

DHBs lack consistency for safety of Deaf patients

Deaf Action urges DHBs to make a commitment to the safety of Deaf people across New Zealand by ensuring access to NZSL interpreters at all times.

After Whangerei resident Kim Robinson waited for 64 hours for an NZSL interpreter during a medical emergency, Deaf Action New Zealand led an investigation into the interpreter provisions at hospitals around the country.

A forum was held in May 2016 in response to cases of Deaf patients in various DHBs having issues getting a NZSL Interpreter during emergencies. Deaf community members shared their experiences with interpreter services in health settings. Many Deaf people recounted experiences of waiting several hours for an interpreter, resorting to using children or other untrained family members as facilitators, or relying on lipreading or written communication.

Deaf Action contacted every District Health Board in New Zealand to ask for assurance that each DHB could provide access to NZSL Interpreters at all times. Responses were received from 18/20 DHBs. Of those who replied, eight were able to provide assurance that they could provide interpreters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These DHBs include Waitemata, Counties Manukau, Waikato, Wairapapa, Hutt Valley, Capital Coast, Canterbury and West Coast.

Three DHBs asked for guidance or are open to a discussion on how to improve access and services to the Deaf. As result of Deaf Action’s letter, Auckland and Northland DHBs undertook an immediate review and implemented improvements. Lakes DHB also reviewed their policies and asked for advice to strengthen their ability to provide a safe 24 hours 7 days a week service. Not one DHB referred to the Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) service, which has been available since 2009. However, one DHB referred to the use of Skype as a useful tool at times when it is not possible to have an interpreter present on site.

Deaf Action recommends that all DHBs make a commitment towards providing effective, accessible services to the Deaf community at all times by reviewing their policies and procedures.

The organisation acknowledges that Northland DHB has taken positive steps to ensure Kim Robinson’s experience does not occur again.



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)

Media Release 3rd August 2015

Video Transcript
Deaf Action New Zealand

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa,

Deaf Action New Zealand is a new DPO – Disabled Persons Organisation.

What is a DPO?

It is an organisation that is governed by a majority of people with disabilities. It is not a Disability Service Provider.

Why Deaf Action New Zealand?

Deaf people need an organisation that will champion their issues to build a better New Zealand.

What is the purpose of Deaf Action New Zealand?

With the successes of the NZSL Act and UNCRPD, the New Zealand disability sector has potential to grow with new competitive contract services established to meet the rising demands of service delivery.

There is potential for NZ to establish new Deaf service agencies (including interpreter booking agencies for example) as providers that gives Deaf people a choice of services available

Deaf Action New Zealand will play an important role of monitoring access to disability service providers, public and private service delivery, telecommunications, captioning and advocating for resources without conflicts of interest.

Deaf Action New Zealand aims to ensure Deaf people receive the highest standards of service delivery and accessibility in NZ through monitoring and reporting mechanisms.

Deaf Action New Zealand will make sure Deaf people can explore their Human Rights, Employment Rights, Health Rights etc.

Every Deaf person including their family/whanau, friends and colleagues can walk together and talk together in partnership with Deaf Action New Zealand.

What’s happening?

A working party made up of volunteers have been discussing strategies. A steering committee will be set up to develop the objectives on the DPO which will be embedded into the constitution.This will be discussed and then voted on by members who have signed up.

All this is being done by volunteers who have donated their time towards making this happen.

We’ll keep you all updated as we go. Lets make our lives more inclusive together!

Join up as a member or a supporter today.

Media Release 28th July 2015

Deaf Action New Zealand is New Zealand’s newest DPO (Disabled Persons Organisation). The formation of this organisation will enable Deaf people as citizens and consumers to have an independent voice. The voice will be about opportunities and rights of Deaf people to live ordinary lives. For Deaf people to make choices similarly to and on an equal basis with the hearing community.

New Zealand is moving ahead into a new era with the successes of Treaty of Waitangi, UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, New Zealand Sign Language Act, Human Rights Act, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act and the various codes of conduct which they oversee.

Deaf Action NZ, together with Deaf New Zealanders will work collaboratively as partners to uphold their human and consumer rights to government, the public and private sectors, and goods and service providers, disability service providers locally, nationally and internationally through our members.

Deaf Action NZ operates a safe environment for all issues to be raised by Deaf people and be treated with dignity and respect. A Deaf working party with supporters are currently developing the strategic plan for Deaf Action New Zealand.

Working Party members:

Caleb Thorn
Monica Leach
Lynette Southey-Ray
James Pole
Kim Robinson
Patti Poa
Debra Bellon
Litsa Katsoulis
Bob Hillier (Strategy)