About the NZSL Board

The purpose of the NZSL Board is to promote and maintain NZSL by ensuring the development, preservation and acquisition of the language, and to provide expert advice to government and the community on NZSL. The NZSL Board has up to 10 members in total, all of whom are NZSL users, and a majority of members are Deaf NZSL users.

NZSL Board role and responsibilities

The NZSL Board was established by Cabinet in May 2014 and the founding members were appointed in May 2015. This followed recommendations from an Experts Advisory Group convened by the Office for Disability Issues in response to a Human Rights Commission inquiry into NZSL from July 2012 to June 2013. The inquiry found that NZSL is crucial to the ability of Deaf people to learn, communicate and participate in society.

The work of the NZSL Board will also help the Government meet its commitments under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its obligations under the NZSL Act 2006.

The purpose of the NZSL Board is to:

  • promote and maintain the use of NZSL by ensuring the development and preservation and acquisition of the language
  • ensure the rights of Deaf people and NZSL users to use NZSL as outlined in the NZSL Act 2006 and United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other national and relevant international legislation
  • provide expert advice to government and the community on NZSL, including recommendations on allocation of the NZSL Fund.

The NZSL Board has responsibilities across leadership, advice, strategy and coordination and monitoring.

The NZSL Board has a vision where:

  • NZSL is a strong, vibrant language, recognised and embraced by New Zealand society
  • the right to use NZSL as a first and preferred language is acknowledged
  • there are sufficient opportunities and resources for Deaf people, their families/whanau, and other NZSL users to acquire and use NZSL
  • NZSL is accessible and available to all NZSL users.

For more information Board, please refer to the Cabinet paper and Terms of Reference.

The NZSL Fund

The New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Fund was established by the Government to support projects that promote and maintain NZSL. The NZSL Board is responsible for oversight of the Fund.

Every year the Minister for Disability Issues agrees policies and criteria for the NZSL Fund to ensure it is being used on things that are most important to the NZSL and Deaf community.

The NZSL Board oversees the fund, including:

Establishing the NZSL Board

In 2013, the NZSL Experts Advisory Group was convened by the Office for Disability Issues. It identified five initial priorities to guide the promotion and maintenance of NZSL:

  • include NZSL in education
  • promote NZSL in the home
  • provide access to information and services in NZSL
  • provide access for Deaf Māori
  • develop interpreter standards.

In 2014, the Minister for Disability Issues announced that the Government had agreed with these priorities.

Read more about the NZSL Board members.

Experts Advisory Group

The Ministry of Social Development set up an Experts Advisory Group to initiate action in the area of promotion and maintenance of New Zealand Sign Language. The Group met from September 2013 to March 2014 to identify a work programme and priorities for consideration by Ministers.

Read more about the Experts Advisory Group members. 

Download - Cabinet paper, Promotion and maintenance of NZSL, May 2014 [Word, 51.63KB] [DOCX, 51 KB]

Download - Cabinet paper, Promotion and maintenance of NZSL, May 2014 [PDF, 162.3KB] [PDF, 167 KB]

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