A guide to working with New Zealand Sign Language interpreters
In this guide, you will find advice on how to achieve effective communication with Deaf people, through your contact with service users, work colleagues, or generally as citizens. Working with sign language interpreters is usually critical to making effective communication happen. Written English is not an adequate or suitable equivalent for many Deaf people.
Key actions covered include what interpreters do and how to book one, what your responsibilities are when booking sign language interpreters, and common things that can affect communicating well with Deaf people. Government agencies need to ensure services and information provided to the public are accessible to Deaf people. This responsibility is stated in the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006, which has principles to guide government agencies in their interaction with deaf people (section 9). It is also stated in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (article 21).
Effective communication with Deaf people: a guide to working with New Zealand Sign Language interpreters
Guide - Word version [DOC, 373 KB]
Sample interpreter booking form - Word version [RTF, 60 KB]
Table of Contents
Part 1: Ensuring effective communication with Deaf people
When do I need to book a sign language interpreter?
When do I need to ensure access to services?
When do I need to ensure access to public events?
Some differences in Deaf people using interpreters
Māori Deaf people
Deaf users of foreign sign language
Deaf people who have minimal language competence
Part 2: The sign language interpreter
How do I know if a sign language interpreter is professionally competent?
Part 3: Booking and paying for interpreters
How do I book an interpreter?
Finding a sign language interpreter
When do I need to book more than one sign language interpreter?
What should I do if other agencies or professionals are involved in the booking?
What if no sign language interpreter is available?
Who pays for sign language interpreter services?
Part 4: Working effectively with sign language interpreters
One-to-one or small group meeting
Larger meetings with three or more people
Presentation, conference, or public event
Radio, television, or other recorded event
Working with deaf staff members
Part 5: Resources and further information
What is New Zealand Sign Language?
Sign Language Interpreters Association of New Zealand (SLIANZ)
Other communication professionals
Department policy on sign language interpreting
New Zealand Sign Language Act - Principles to guide government departments
SLIANZ Occupational Safety and Health Standard Practice paper
About this guide - acknowledgements