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NZ sign language & resources for the Deaf community

Common FAQs for the Deaf community & New Zealand Sign Language

Can I request an NZSL interpreter at my appointment?

Yes, you are entitled to a NZSL interpreter at any appointments you have.

It can be difficult to find interpreters, especially at short notice.

Video Relay interpreting (VRI) could be an option if you can’t find an NZSL interpreter. VRI is available 8am to 8pm.

You are also entitled to a NZSL interpreter if you are not the patient, but your partner, child or whānau is the patient and you need to know what’s going on.

Who is responsible for booking the interpreter?

Hospital staff are responsible for booking NZSL interpreters and should be booked by the department where the appointment is taking place, e.g, cardiology. The booking office does not usually book interpreters.

What if the hospital worker doesn’t know how to book a NZSL interpreter?

You can suggest they:

Can I get a NZSL interpreter after-hours in an emergency?

Yes, iSign is available to book interpreters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However NZSL interpreters are not always available.

Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) is available from 8am to 8pm. See: www.NZVIS.co.nz

Can I request a particular interpreter?

Yes, let the staff member making the booking know which interpreter you want. If the interpreter you want is not free, you need to decide to go ahead with the appointment or postpone to another time.

What should I do if no NZSL interpreters are available?

You need to decide whether to:

  • use VRI (if between 8am - 8pm)
  • postpone the appointment until you can get an interpreter
  • use note writing, online videos, gesture, lip reading, family/friend to interpret (there are risks with using these options)
  • contact the Patient Affairs Team: phone, email patientaffairs@southerndhb.govt.nz

Who can I contact if I feel the hospital worker doesn’t understand Deaf culture?