Consultation to help shape future sign language video interpreting and relay services

  • Hon Carmel Sepuloni
  • Hon Kris Faafoi
Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Disability Issues

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi and Disability Issues Minister Carmel Sepuloni have started a public consultation on proposals to modernise telecommunications services for people who are deaf, deafblind or have hearing or speech impairments.

The services include New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) video interpreting and relay services, which use a relay assistant or interpreter to help those who are deaf, deafblind or with hearing or speech impairments communicate with others by phone.

“These services are vital communications tools for users and their whānau,” Kris Faafoi says.

“While many services are working well, some have not kept pace with technological changes and are not always meeting people’s needs. This is an opportunity for user groups to share their insight and experience in order to help shape future relay services.”

Feedback is wanted on six proposed changes to existing services that aim to provide a more modern video interpreting and relay experience. These proposed changes include making the Video Interpreting Service available during weekends, moving text-based services to digital platforms, and transitioning away from legacy services such as teletypewriters.

Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni says improving these telecommunications services will help open up social, educational, cultural and employment opportunities for deaf, deafblind, hearing and speech impaired New Zealanders. 

“We want meaningful changes to services so they are easier to use, easier to access, and meet the needs of the people who use them. That’s why it’s important they get involved in this consultation and provide feedback,” Carmel Sepuloni says.

Improvements to the NZSL video interpreting and relay services are an important element in achieving the outcome areas identified in the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016–2026, particularly Outcomes 5 (Accessibility), 3 (Health and Wellbeing) and 7 (Choice and Control). They will contribute to the goal that in the future, information and communications will be easy for disabled people to access in formats and languages that are right for them. 

Further information on the proposals, consultation workshops, and making a submission are available in English and New Zealand Sign Language here. Consultation runs until 9am, Monday 15 April.

View the NZSL video of this statement here.

Notes to editors:

A full list of relay services currently offered in New Zealand is available online.