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Deaf Aotearoa Supports the Use of Video Remote Interpreting

Deaf Aotearoa Supports the Use of Video Remote Interpreting In Frontline Government Services

Deaf Aotearoa believes increased access to frontline services via a new video remote interpreter service will greatly benefit the Deaf community.

Video remote interpreting will connect a New Zealand Sign Language interpreter with a face-to-face meeting between Deaf people and staff from a range of government agencies.

Deaf Aotearoa Chief Executive Lachlan Keating says the organisation was very pleased about the announcement from Disability Issues Minister Tariana Turia that the Video Remote Interpreting service will commence on 1 September 2013.

The Deaf Way report, launched in 2010 by Deaf Aotearoa, noted that the Deaf community eagerly awaited the launch of video remote interpreting as a tool for increasing access to NZ Sign Language (NZSL) interpreter services where demand cannot be met, particularly in remote rural areas where low numbers of Deaf people meant that demand was too low to sustain a locally based interpreter.

Mr Keating says that for too long too many Deaf people have missed out on critical information and been unable to participate effectively in meetings and appointments due to a lack of qualified interpreters. This problem also exists in metropolitan areas with many Deaf people unable to get the interpreter support they need to be successful in their employment or study.

“The launch of the VRI service within these government agencies will mean that Deaf people who are presently unable to access interpreters for essential meetings with their doctor, employer, teacher or case manager will now be able to have an interpreter present by way of the Video Remote Interpreting service” he says.

“Qualified sign language interpreters are in scarce supply in many regional areas, meaning Deaf people have been forced to use family members, friends or people with limited sign language skills and no formal qualification, instead of an interpreter.  This new initiative will go a long way towards bridging this gap and increasing Deaf people’s access to information they need to make informed decisions.”

Mr Keating says it is timely that the announcement was made during the Deaf Aotearoa-organised New Zealand Sign Language Week.

“NZSL Week is about raising awareness about the country’s Deaf community, and the importance of using NZSL when communicating with a Deaf person,” he says.

“While we use the week to celebrate achievements, it is also a time to recognise that work still needs to be done to ensure that Deaf people can realise their true potential in education, the workforce and society in general.”

Mr Keating says Deaf Aotearoa will continue to actively work with government services and other organisations to ensure that Deaf people gain access to the services they need, so they can be an active part of New Zealand society.

Deaf Aotearoa is the national service provider for Deaf people in New Zealand. It delivers a wide range of essential services and provides resources and information on a range of services. 

Deaf Aotearoa also works closely with government agencies, other not-for-profit organisations and the corporate sector to increase awareness of Deaf people’s lives, promote New Zealand Sign Language and reaffirm the rights of Deaf people.  Deaf Aotearoa is a Disabled Person’s Organisation and the New Zealand representative for the World Federation of the Deaf, the international body for Deaf people.


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