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New scholarships launched for sign language train

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister for Communications and Information Technology

9 March 2008 Media Statement

New scholarships launched for sign language training

Communications and Information Technology Minister David Cunliffe has announced the government will fund twenty scholarships for training in sign language.

“The government has set aside $100,000 in scholarships for the Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting through Auckland University of Technology,” said Mr Cunliffe.

“We currently have a shortage of qualified interpreters in New Zealand. The scholarships, which are available from this year, should encourage more people into training. This is important for the development of new services for the Deaf community.”

Later this year the government will consult on a video relay service to enable the Deaf to communicate via sign language interpreters. This would build on the telecommunications services already provided through the New Zealand Relay service.

“It is critical that we have enough qualified interpreters to make future resources for the Deaf viable.”

To assist raising awareness of this important occupation, the funding agreement requires Auckland University of Technology to actively promote the Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting course and the availability of the new scholarships.


The New Zealand Relay service is administered under the Telecommunications Service Obligations (TSO) framework by the Ministry of Economic Development. The service provides telecommunications for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired, deaf-blind or speech-impaired. The service involves a relay assistant who voices everything that is typed and types everything that is said.

The TSO framework ensures the availability of certain telecommunications services, such as New Zealand Relay and local telephone service for residential customers, which would otherwise not be made available commercially.

Further information about the New Zealand Relay Service is available at


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