Deaf communities to get better emergency information
Deaf communities will have improved access to emergency information as the result of a new agreement signed today, says Civil Defence Minister Hon Kris Faafoi.
Mr Faafoi says the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management and Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand will provide a foundation for the two agencies to improve information before, during and after an emergency.
“This Government believes that emergency information should be accessible for everyone and this partnership will help us make that happen.
“Much of the information shared about emergencies is done so by voice – for example in media interviews on tv and at public meetings. We need to do better in ensuring these formats are made more accessible to deaf people.
“In the event of a damaging storm, floods, earthquakes or tsunami we need everyone to be ready and follow the advice. Civil Defence and Deaf Aotearoa will work together to get New Zealand Sign Language interpreting used in emergencies where practicable – and to jointly create emergency preparedness resources.
“We have also agreed to work closely and identify other areas for collaboration because we share a vision for a future where disabilities are never a barrier to being prepared for, or informed about, emergencies.”
Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni says the focus on accessibility for Deaf New Zealanders in emergency events provides an important platform to begin discussions about responding to the needs of disabled people.
"Local and national emergencies can have differing impacts on people with disabilities, and it is essential we provide support that is accessible and responsive to the range of needs in this community. Through this agreement Deaf New Zealanders will have assurances that we will work with them through Deaf Aotearoa to ensure our civil defence responses are appropriate and inclusive.”
Deaf Aotearoa president Oliver Ferguson has welcomed the MoU and progress being made. “Deaf Aotearoa represents the voice of thousands of Deaf New Zealanders and we are really pleased that the Ministry has worked with our chief executive Lachlan Keating and staff to ensure access to critical information in NZSL during times of local and national emergencies.
“During the Christchurch earthquakes, Edgecumbe floods and the Banks Peninsula bushfires it was important that deaf people could stay up to date with current information about services, housing and where to get food and water.”