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.