Statement on NZSL Interpreting Qualification changes proposed by the NZSL Board – 1st May 2023

Deaf Aotearoa statement on NZSL Interpreting Qualification changes proposed by the NZSL Board

Deaf Aotearoa is deeply concerned about the alternative interpreting qualification process proposed by the NZSL Board. This major policy change could potentially have a significant impact on the Deaf community and the interpreting workforce.

The lack of proper consultation with the Deaf community, Deaf Aotearoa, and other stakeholders, as well as the failure to implement valuable recommendations from SLIANZ and AUT, is extremely disappointing. The NZSL Board should have consulted widely on this decision, which appears to have been made without adequate, meaningful consultation.

Deaf Aotearoa became aware of the decision last week, which is extremely disappointing given we have now learned that the NZSL Board and the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) have been considering this decision for several months. This is despite Deaf Aotearoa being in regular contact with both ODI and the NZSL Board on a wide range of topics. The lack of consultation on this decision displays, at best, a lack of good faith, and at worst, is a breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is, without doubt, a failure to adhere to the long-held expectation of Nothing about us without us.

Serious questions need to be answered as to how the NZSL Board arrived at this decision without proper consultation or consideration, given the likely detrimental impacts the decision will have on the interpreting profession and the Deaf community.

Deaf Aotearoa acknowledges that there is a need for more NZSL interpreters, and for the quality of interpreting to be maintained. However, this should not be to the detriment of qualified and competent interpreters who have completed a diploma or degree. The focus should be on making interpreting training affordable, and investigating other avenues to attracting people to the interpreting profession and retaining qualified interpreters.

The WFD Statement on Sign Language Work makes clear the expectation that national associations of the Deaf community (i.e. Deaf Aotearoa) and the Deaf community should be closely involved in all aspects of interpreter training.

It is essential that the Deaf community and all stakeholders have the opportunity to understand the rationale for this change, provide feedback, and for the NZSL Board to be open to reviewing their decision. It is equally important that no situations arise in the future where Deaf people are surprised about government policy changes that affect their lives.

Deaf Aotearoa urges that the NZSL Board hold off on implementing this decision and go through a proper consultation process with the Deaf community, SLIANZ, AUT, interpreting service providers, Deaf Aotearoa and other stakeholders. Proper consultation should lead to a solution which benefits all parties.

2 thoughts on “Statement on NZSL Interpreting Qualification changes proposed by the NZSL Board – 1st May 2023”

  1. I relocated to Auckland to study at AUT to be a NZSL interpreter.

    Fortunately for me I had established strong networks in the deaf community, and continued to hone my skills.

    I worked diligently to create connections and networks within the deaf community, in Aotearoa and abroad. With the timing of my final exam I had gone through an unfortunate situation at work with forced my to quit. while all this was going on I still tried my best to sit all my exams and assessments. Never the less I passed all my papers and only failed one exam. The result of this was a catastrophe. I lost my scholarship, and became financially unable to continue this study. People come from all over Aotearoa to complete this study investing alot of time and effort. Auckland is not the easiest city to live in but this whole experience has had significant impacts on my mental well-being.
    For starters I am.quite proficient in NZSL, and although I am never made it to my final year of interpreting I am constantly expected to do roles that uses some form of interpreting.
    I am very transparent that I am not an interpreter because I’ve veen failed.

    For people like me who try to become an assets for the deaf community but just ends up being kicked out and shunted to one side is an injustice and I feel a disservice to the Deaf Community. My case is not as rare as I had imagined, making it to the end of my second year and having the boot is a weird way to treat people motivated to entering an industry that is in demand.

    When I shared my news with my deaf friends just said do it again, like I hadn’t suffered a big loss (financially, emotionally and intellectually) with very little to show for it.

    Perhaps this is an opportunity for skilled people who are proficient in NZSL to be acknowledged in another way.

    There are alot of issues with the Eng-NZSL prog. Firstly perhaps the first thing that could be addressed is that Aotearoa and its Deaf community is actually multicultural. Non Anglo-Saxon people struggle alot with this course for various cultural reasons especially having Eng as a first language doesn’t mean your native to English culture. There is a big difference and once again a really strange form of ignorance.

    Commiting to a three year intensive biased prog is not a commitment many can make. Especially when there is nothing that comes from it.


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