Te Whatu Ora Logo

0800 946 9800
(06) 946 9800

New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) and resources for the deaf community


Kia ora
Health NZ | Te Whatu Ora Capital and Coast, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa want to improve access for the deaf community to health services.This page has information that’s useful to know when going to hospital. If you want more information that’s not here, please let us know and we will add this information to this page.

Also, the hospital wants your feedback whether it's positive or negative. You can contact us by text or email, or we can arrange to meet face to face. Our contact details are at the bottom of this page.

Videos about coming to hospital for the deaf community and about communicating with deaf people for staff

Thanks to the NZSL Board we have made two videos for hospital staff and the deaf community.

For the deaf community: Coming to the hospital? Some useful information




Booking an NZSL interpreter

Can I request a 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. Remember: VRI is available 8am-8pm.

You are also entitled to a NZSL interpreter if you are not the patient, but your partner, child or whanau 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:

  • contact iSign: phone 0800 934 683 or email: bookings@isign.co.nz
  • look up the ‘Use of Interpreting Services’ policy
  • contact the disability team: phone 04 806-2434, email disability@ccdhb.org.nz, text only 0278392733
  • direct the staff member to this web page

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 disability team: phone 04 806-2434, email disability@ccdhb.org.nz, text only 0278392733

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


There is a small amount of health information available in NZSL. This includes:

Health resources on HealthEd website:

·Prostate Cancer: More information for men and their families and whānau

·Getting checked for prostate cancer: Quick guide for men and their families and whānau

·Ageing well: How to be the best you can be

·Immunise Your Child on Time – English version

·Time to Quit

·Body-piercing and Tattooing: Protecting Your Health

·BreastScreen Aotearoa – NZSL version

·Cervical Smear Tests: What Women Need to Know – English version

Depression.org.nz uses NZSL:


There is also health information available online in British Sign Language (BSL) that may be accessible to some people.

The Deaf Health Charity Signhealth:


Research about ‘Deaf communities access to health services' published in the NZ Medical Journal (NZSL translation)

NZSL is the only language of many deaf people and the first and preferred language of others. It is also the basis for deaf culture. The New Zealand Medical Journal recently published an article on the experiences of deaf people with our health services.

Read the article here. (If you don't have a subscription, click the 'Abstract' tab to read a free summary.

Following are a series of videos that translate the research in NZSL.

Where to learn NZSL

There is a list of NZSL classes available at http://teachsign.org.nz/students.

Alternatively, you can learn NZSL online at http://www.learnnzsl.nz/#/id/co-01.

Contact us

If you have any questions, you can call or text the disability team (during working hours):

·Phone: 04 806-2434

·Text: 027 839 2733

·Email: disability@ccdhb.org.nz