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Deaf community silent protest at key's office

Deaf community plans silent protest in New Zealand sign language at John key’s office

When? Saturday 5 December 10am – 12 noon
Where? John Key’s electorate Office365 Main Road, Kumeu
What? Silent protest with chanting in New Zealand Sign Language by members of the Deaf community and their supporters

John Key and his Ministers have turned a Deaf ear to the plight of students who use the services of the Advance Centre. The Advance Centre provides essential services to Deaf and hearing impaired tertiary students in the Auckland region, but found out from the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) that their funding will be removed at the end of 2009, which means the service will have to close.

Despite repeated requests to meet with the acting Minister for Disability Issues and the Minister for Tertiary Education, and attempts to correspond with the Office for Disability Issues and the Prime Minister, no justification for cutting the service has been given.

Deaf and hearing impaired students, their supporters, and people who work in tertiary education are concerned that the cuts will make it impossible for tertiary institutions to meet the needs of students.

The Advance Centre was established in 2004 with the aim of reducing the barriers for Deaf and hearing impaired students to make sure that they would have equal access to education. Funded through TEC, it provided free services to those students, and to the tertiary institutions they studied at, including staff training, advice, information and study support workshops, and helps institutions to find scarce sign language interpreters to interpret classes for Deaf students.

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New Zealand Sign Language is an official language of New Zealand, and it is expected that there will be an increase in complaints to the Human Rights Commission over access to education unless immediate action is taken to save the Advance centre. No plans have been put in place to provide these services within the separate institutions, which means that this vital service will be totally lost from the end of this year.

A video in NZSL explaining the details of the protest can be found on the Deaf Aotearoa website; http://www.deaf.org.nz/


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