Westpac has become New Zealand’s first bank to offer free in-branch sign language interpreters for Deaf customers.

Approximately 4,500 Deaf Kiwis use New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) as their first or preferred form of communication and more than 20,000 people in total use NZSL – including parents and family members who use it with their deaf family member.

Because NZSL is a critical form of communication and is New Zealand’s third official language, Westpac NZ is now offering NZSL interpreters from iSign to Deaf customers at no extra cost to the customer, all that is needed is a booking.

Botany Downs Westpac Branch Manager Arpita Chanda says this will help both customers and branch staff, making banking services more accessible and efficient.

“When there’s a lag in communication between our Deaf customers and branch staff, I can see that it can be quite frustrating for our customers,” Chanda said.

“Interpreters are now readily available – they could be available for a same day appointment in some cases or within 5 to 10 working days depending on which region in New Zealand the customer lives in.

“Customers who would like to use this service should contact their local branch and ask for an appointment with the interpreter,” she said.

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