Update from the Executive Board about COVID-19

Hi, I’m Craig Findsen, Executive Board member. How are you? Hope you are healthy, at home, working or doing DIY projects, or spending time with family.

The EB will be updating you regularly during the Covid-19 situation. The EB want to make sure you all know about the work that is happening in the background by our staff and the EB of Deaf Aotearoa.

The staff have been working for the past few weeks with the Ministry of Health (MOH) communications team and now other Government communications staff as well to make as much information as possible available in NZSL. You will have seen 1-2 new NZSL videos being released most days and this will continue for a while. If there is information you need that is not in NZSL, please let us know and we will pass this on to staff.

The information in NZSL can be found here:

We know that not everyone has access to the internet and we need to know who these people are – if you know someone who does not have the internet at home and they would like our support to access the internet please let us know.

It’s important to keep in mind that our staff are all working from home and that working from home isn’t as easy as working in their normal office. Staff are making videos from home, joining tele- and video-conferences from home, and doing their normal work on top of responding to the Covid situation.

Our facilitators are in regular contact with people who use our services and the wider Deaf community in their local areas. They will be making videos to update their local communities over the next few days and these will be included in the Community Weekly News that will come out next week. There won’t be a CWN today.

Here is a summary of the updates we can share at this point.

  1. Interpreters – Deaf Aotearoa, through iSign, are providing interpreters for all of the media briefings that you see on TV. This has always been the case with civil defense emergencies (earthquakes, fires, floods etc) in the past. We need to think about and be careful about the health and safety of interpreters – they have families as well and we are trying to share the workload by rotating across as many interpreters as possible.
  2. Video-interpreting – The VIS https://nzvis.co.nz/ is still operating and is very busy. They are looking for extra interpreters to work in the VIS and Deaf Aotearoa is supporting them with this. iSign, Connect and Wordsworth interpreting services are now offering video-interpreting to reduce Covid-19 exposure risk that comes with face-to-face interpreting. If you need an face-to-face interpreter, please continue to contact them as you usually would and they will do their best to provide you with an interpreter.
    If you want to book an interpreter you can email bookings@isign.co.nz or free text 3359 or call 0800 934 683.
  3. Employment – Our staff are in touch with Deaf people in work, and also the employers. The feedback has been positive – many employers want to keep their Deaf staff working now and after the Covid-19 situation is finished.
  4. Equipment – The Fire Service has told us they can’t do Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) assessments at present. If you have had an assessment from a facilitator and haven’t received your equipment yet, your facilitator will be in touch to update you as best they can.
  5. Internet Access – We know that some Deaf people don’t have access to the internet at home – they don’t have a phone with data or they don’t have a computer/laptop that is connected to the internet. We need to know who these people are – their name, their address, names of anyone living with them so we can look at solutions for them.
    If you know Deaf people who do not have any support, please let us know or ask them to contact Deaf Aotearoa or iSign: Contact staff on text, email or videocall if you have their contact information. You can also email duty@deaf.org.nz or text 021 276 5771
  6. Advocacy – Deaf Aotearoa staff with support of Executive Board continues to lobby the government to increased access to interpreters through the video interpreting service, and for better access to up to date information. We are looking at ways to ensure that Deaf community have equipment that is needed for access.
    Staff are working to reach out to Deaf people and organisations to work together to support the Deaf community to ensure we are supported and have access through this pandemic.
  7. Community networking – Talk to your local community about ideas on how you can stay connected and support each other. Deaf Aotearoa will try our best to facilitate opportunities for community to support each other. One example of community opportunity; a Facebook group has been set up by Lyneen Allen and Alexandra Carr “Deaf Oranga Aotearoa” to try reducing the feeling of isolation and mental health support. Deaf Aotearoa is in contact with Marion Blake from Platform Trust, to work with MOH to try to improve mental health services for Deaf people. There is a Facebook group Canterbury Senior Citizens – Covid-19 Updates for Deaf Seniors set up by our staff in Christchurch. Staff can set up this for other regions or New Zealand nationwide. Get into touch with your local office if you have their contact information using text email or videocall. Another idea; Wellington Deaf Society plan to have social events via Zoom video conference. It is great to see things like that and we would like to support that, encourage you, Deaf community to come up with things like that.

With community support, be kind, kia kaha, wash your hand and stay home as much as you can, we will get through this.

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