Deaf New Zealanders are entitled to the same rights as any other New Zealander
When information is not provided in sign language, Deaf people are not able to participate equally in society. Confusion, misunderstanding and sometimes personal safety is threatened.
- Being treated in hospital but not fully understanding the medication and treatment you are receiving
- Being arrested without the right to explain your side of the story in your language
- Experiencing a Civil Defence emergency situation (such as an earthquake) and not being able to listen to the radio or understand fully what people are saying by their lip pattern
- Missing out on work information (eg Health and safety meetings)
The Deaf Community is keenly aware that we must preserve, promote and protect NZSL by developing a strategy that ensures full participation in political and public life on an equal basis with others.
This equal status of Deaf New Zealanders was cemented in 2006, with the implementation of the New Zealand Sign Language Act which is endorsed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The purpose of the NZSL Act is to promote and maintain the use of New Zealand Sign Language by:
- Declaring New Zealand Sign Language to be an official language of New Zealand
- Stating principles to guide government departments in the promotion and use of New Zealand Sign Language
- Providing NZSL in legal proceedings and making regulations for the interpretation in legal proceedings of NZSL
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states freedom of expression and opinion and access to information and for the use of sign languages, Braille or other communication tools as chosen by the person with the disability
More information on the NZSL Act can be found on the Office of Disability Issues website
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The World Federation of the Deaf have also produced some video clips about the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These video clips are provided in International Sign Language. Click here to visit the WFD Website.
More information on the Rights of a Deaf Person fact sheet
You can contact the Office for Disability Issues by:
Phone: (04) 916 3300
Fax: (04) 918 0075
Ministry of Social Development
Bowen State Building
Office for Disability Issues
PO Box 1556
New Zealand has signed an international law called, The United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Every four years New Zealand has to tell the United Nations if Disabled People in New Zealand get their Human Rights. To help do this the Ministry of Social Development gave money to the UN Convention Coalition to do a project to find out if Disabled people get their Human Rights in New Zealand.