Progress In Implementing The NZ Disability Strategy 2005-2006
Reporting on progress 2005-2006
Department of Conservation has made New Zealand Sign Language classes available for staff.
Department of Corrections has participated in the New Zealand Sign Language interpreters working group, led by the Office for Disability Issues, to discuss the implementation of competency standards for NZSL Interpreters working in criminal justice settings.
Ministry of Culture and Heritage has developed a plan to remove barriers in public broadcasting for deaf people.
Ministry of Economic Development continues to monitor the performance of the Telecommunications Relay Service and obtained feedback through the relay advisory group.
Ministry of Education has developed a New Zealand Sign Language Act implementation plan. The Plan contains a number of Ministry-wide actions for progressively addressing communication access issues for deaf people in education.
Ministry of Fisheries has investigated providing communications and education material in accessible formats on request. All administration staff became familiar with the New Zealand Relay service.
Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner has:
- front-line staff receiving training in how to respond appropriately to telephone calls using the New Zealand Relay service
- completed scoping for a project on identifying an appropriate national approach for the provision of interpreting and translation services that will take an inclusive and equitable approach to address communication barriers.
Ministry of Health has:
- contracted the National Foundation for the Deaf to undertake a project to look at access to New Zealand Sign Language interpreters within Ministry-funded health and disability support services. This included gathering information on the experiences of district health boards, primary health organisations' and some disability support providers with accessing and providing interpreters for deaf people
- ensured that accessibility issues are considered by district health boards in their accountability documents, which outline the Ministry’s expectation that the boards have an accessibility plan that includes how they would prepare for the enactment of the NZSL Act.
Human Rights Commission has continued work with open captioned movies, which are now available for most new movie releases, although captioned prints are screened only at venues equipped with DTS technology. Most captioned screenings are within three weeks of initial release.
- commenced an examination of the implications for the introduction of the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006
- examined the use of the New Zealand Relay Service as another channel for deaf and hearing impaired customers to contact the department was investigated. Part of this work involved consultation with external parties (including the Deaf Association of New Zealand and the Ministry of Economic Development). The service was launched in July 2006 for inbound phone calls.
Department of Internal Affairs’ Office of Ethnic Affairs was involved in the ‘Interpreting and Translation’ project, jointly with the Office for Disability Issues and the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner. This project is assessing the state of the New Zealand interpreting and translation industry (including sign language, and other spoken languages). The desired outcome is a nationally consistent level of service in interpreting and translation for all people facing communication barriers, regardless of sector and location. This project was being scoped in this period.
Ministry of Justice:
- continued to be part of the ongoing interagency forums to address the broader cross-government issues. The Ministry supported the passage of the New Zealand Sign Language Bill, and planned for its implementation in the following ways:
- by providing advice to the Justice and Electoral Committee on operational issues and issues under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990
- by participating in the inter-agency working group co-ordinating development of standards for interpreters
- by planning for implementation, eg by developing information for court users who are deaf.
- Chief Electoral Office aimed to reduce barriers to voting experienced by disabled people in the general election 2005. It is the aim of the Chief Electoral Office that as many people as possible are able to access voting facilities and can vote independently and in secret.
- produced information about voting in a variety of formats including Braille, audio tape, and large print. Information about accessible polling places was distributed to disability groups throughout the country and articles were provided for newsletters and publications to reinforce the advance voting message
- produced a Sign Language DVD in collaboration with the Deaf Association that explained both the enrolment and voting processes in Sign Language, captions and sound. It was well received by the deaf community and was also used around the country by groups working with people with learning and intellectual disabilities.
Department of Labour:
- developed a Guide to Dealing with Hearing Impairment in the Workplace, including reference to use of Sign Language interpreters. An additional resource on supporting staff with hearing impairment was developed for managers. There was consultation with the Deaf Association, the Hearing Association and Life Unlimited Hearing Therapy Services
- prepared a resource for staff and their managers about the availability of New Zealand Sign Language interpreters.
National Library has financially supported several staff members to undertake New Zealand Sign Language courses. The service it can now provide to deaf clients visiting the Library has been greatly enhanced.
Ministry of Social Development’s Office for Disability Issues asked departments to specify in their implementation plans for the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2006/2007 what they were going to do to implement the NZSL Act 2006.
Other progress made:
- the New Zealand Sign Language Act proceeded through Parliament and was granted Royal Assent by the Governor-General, thereby becoming official legislation, on 10 April 2006
- inter-agency work on funding of interpreters: reviewing the government funding mechanisms for New Zealand Sign Language interpreters; and standards for interpreters: options for the implementation of competency standards for New Zealand Sign Language interpreters employed in criminal justice settings.