Making your organisation more Deaf-friendly
This checklist will help you make your organisation more accessible for Deaf people in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
In your organisation, are corporate videos (e.g., training/recruiting and information videos) produced with captioning? Do they include NZSL translation?
All of your promotional materials i.e. posters, brochures, website, etc needs to give visual presentations wherever possible. E.g., PowerPoint presentations need to show some pictures/photos/graphics with simple words rather than too many complicated words.
Does your organisation still use the labels “Disabled”, “Invalid”, “Hearing Impaired”, “Deaf and mute” etc. (instead of the preferred “Deaf” or “Hard of hearing”) in brochures and other printed or online materials?
Identify if any of your staff are skilled or familiar with NZSL and utilise these skills when a Deaf person is accessing your service. This person should not replace the need to use a qualified interpreter. And encourage everyone else to learn NZSL!
Availability of Interpreters
Are you prepared to pay for interpreters for your meetings, presentations and other gatherings when Deaf people are present? In some regions, there are limited numbers of Interpreters. Therefore, it is necessary to book qualified interpreters in advance.
In your organisation, are there flashing lights (probe-light) to alert Deaf people about fire alarms? Do you have regular testing to check if flashing lights are working? Do your fire wardens know how to tell a Deaf person to evacuate the building when the fire-alarm sounds?
In your organisation, are there clear and visual messages i.e. symbols and arrows showing meeting room, community room, interview room and male/female toilets, etc?
At your organisation, are important messages and broadcast announcements sent via voice mail, or via email, or both? Remember to have visual captions for Deaf people.
We ask that lights are not dimmed through presentations or other events so Deaf people can see in order to communicate. Making the best use of natural and task lighting will aid communication. When communicating with a Deaf person do not stand or sit with your back to a window or light source. Vision impaired people will also appreciate this.
Does your receptionist sit behind a reflective screen, is the information displayed clear and in plain English, is there sufficient lighting and if you have an auditory announcement is there a visual one as well.
Does your receptionist know how to greet Deaf clients or visitors in basic New Zealand Sign Language i.e. ‘Hello’, ‘How are you?’ ‘What is your name?’ ‘Please wait’, ‘You are welcome’.
New Zealand Relay
NZ Relay has several communication methods, such as: Text Relay, TTY, Video Interpreting Service. Does your staff know how to respond when you receive a call from a Deaf person via the NZ Relay Service?
- Is your call answered by a receptionist who is aware how to use these services?
- Are you aware of the different communication methods?
Do you have a text number advertised in any of your promotional and information materials? If so, do you respond to texts as soon as possible as if it was a telephone call?
Many Deaf and Hard of Hearing people use smartphones to assist with communication. Do you know which apps to use to type out what you want to say? Are you aware of speech-to-text features? Do you have the NZSL Dictionary app downloaded on your smartphone?
Does your organisation have reliable and fast internet for Deaf people to be able to use VRS with smooth clarity?
Does your organisation have an understanding of the Disability Strategy Plan from the Office for Disability Issues? Are you aware of the Accessibility Charter? If yes;
- Does your staff know how to approach and treat Deaf people in an appropriate manner?
- Does your staff know how to use the NZ Relay Service?
- Does your staff know how to book or work with a NZSL interpreter?
- If your company/organisation offer Disability Training to management and employees, is Deaf Awareness ever included?
- The Disability Strategy includes information about Deaf needs
NZSL Week, Hearing Month and International Week of Deaf People
- Each May, Deaf Aotearoa organises NZSL Week – a celebration of one of the country’s official languages, New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). NZSL Week helps promote the language as well as raise awareness about New Zealand’s Deaf community and the issues/challenges its members face each day. It also provides an opportunity to advocate for Deaf rights, as defined by the UN’s Convention of Rights of People with Disabilities. NZSL Week is a chance for Deaf New Zealanders to ‘put their hands up’ and be ‘heard’
- Hearing Month is organised by the National Foundation for Deaf & Hard of Hearing and it is all about putting a spotlight on hearing health. It also raises awareness for the experiences of the 880,000+ New Zealanders who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Every year organisations around New Zealand come together in March to celebrate Hearing Awareness Month. It kicks off with World Hearing Day on the 3rd of March.
- Every September, the World Federation of the Deaf celebrates International Week of Deaf people. It is an initiative of the WFD and was first launched in 1958 in Rome, Italy. It is celebrated annually by the global Deaf Community on the last week of September each year, alongside International Day of Sign Languages on 23rd September. The activities call for participation and involvements of various stakeholders including families, peers, Governmental bodies, professional sign language interpreters and Organisations of persons with disabilities.
Do you ever recruit disabled or Deaf employees? If “YES,” do announcement/advertising mention that NZSL interpreters are available upon request?