Children & Youth

Children and Youth: It’s about connections

It’s about connections

School aged children

  • Our team is ready to share their experience and knowledge of being Deaf in Aotearoa NZ
  • Our resources are for young people and their family/whanau to support their development
  • Our team and our resources aim to bring young people and their whanau closer to the deaf community here in Aotearoa and worldwide.

It’s your future


  • Students in their final year of schooling can be supported to plan their transition out of school and into study or work.
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First Signs

What is First Signs?

A nationwide Deaf Aotearoa service for Deaf and hard-of-hearing children aged 0-5, supporting families and whānau with:

  • Learning New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL)
  • Language development
  • Learning about being Deaf/hard-of-hearing in Aotearoa
  • Connecting with other families and Deaf role models.

First Signs brings NZSL into the home and family/whānau environments, making learning NZSL fun.

First Signs Evaluation Report – September 2019

This evaluation identified the outcomes of Deaf Aotearoa’s First Signs service through document analysis, a literature review, and views of families who are currently or ever part of First Signs service, Advisors on Deaf Children (AODCs), two leaders of the First Signs service, and then interviews with a sample of families.

113 families participated in an online and paper-based survey that asked what they thought of the outcomes for their child (28% response rate).

33 AODCs participated in an online survey that asked for their opinion of the outcomes for the children on their caseload (83% response rate).

This evaluation concluded that First Signs provides a valuable service that has significant social impact on its service users, for both child and the family. Overall, feedback from the survey and interviews suggest that the First Signs service has had substantial impact on the well-being, identity, and communication skills of deaf children.

Download the full Evaluation Report here: DOWNLOAD

Evaluated by: Fitzgerald & Associates for the Ministry of Education

First Signs is all about ensuring families and whānau feel well supported, confident and equipped to support their deaf/hard-of hearing child in achieving their full potential.

How does it work?

First Signs is provided through a mix of home visits and web-based support from Deaf Aotearoa Facilitators.

Visits can be weekly, fortnightly or monthly depending on the family’s needs. Visits can be at home, or even at the park!

First Signs provides information and resources and always respects each family’s decisions.

First Signs:

  • Supports and monitors NZSL language development
  • Works with Advisors on Deaf Children (AODC) and other professionals involved with the family, e.g.: cochlear implant programme, audiologists, Deaf Education Centre staff
  • Supports transition to ECE and/or school.

Our sessions are individually tailored to meet our collective needs

“Watching our son’s language development is fantastic. First Signs gives us the skills to communicate as a family.”



Youth Services

Youth Services

Deaf Aotearoa’s Youth service develops the potential of Deaf and hard-of-hearing youth as individuals and as a group, by providing:

  • a transition programme to guide young people into work or study
  • a youth intern programme
  • activities to develop strong Deaf identities and leadership skills.

NZSL in schools – Youth Project

Zoe Ferguson and Cory Myatt were employed as NZSL interns at the Office for Disability Issues in 2020.   As part of the youth project, they were asked to share how the use of NZSL has shaped their identity and experiences at school.


Five Ways to Wellbeing Resources:

The Deaf Toolbox
Where to learn NZSL? 
There are lots of ways you can learn New Zealand Sign Language…

Check out:

Sign with your baby
This website is for parents, whānau, friends and teachers who want to start learning New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) to communicate with babies and toddlers. It shows the first signs and skills needed to communicate with children between 0 and 3 years old.
Learn NZSL is a free learning portal on New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). NZSL is the language of New Zealand’s Deaf community and an official language of New Zealand. Whether you’re studying NZSL, trying to connect with a Deaf friend, or just having fun with a new language, Learn NZSL has a lot to offer!

Get in touch with us

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