When do I need to book a NZSL interpreter?

This section advises when you need to book a NZSL interpreter. Agencies should also ensure events open to the public are accessible for Deaf people.

Assume NZSL interpreters will always be needed

Before a meeting and on request

During or after a face-to-face meeting

  • Assume that a NZSL interpreter will always be needed when meeting with a Deaf person. Written English is not a valid substitute for NZSL interpreters.

  • Always check with the Deaf person involved with the meeting/event before booking NZSL interpreters.

  • Public events should be accessible to Deaf people on an equal basis with others. NZSL interpreters will need to be present to make this happen, where practicable.

  • Publicise the availability of NZSL interpreters on publicity material (such as posters) and in communications (such as invites, websites, on social media and in emails). Provide a tick box on registration forms so people can request a NZSL interpreter.

  • Book NZSL interpreters well in advance. If no Deaf people have registered their interest, the interpreters can be cancelled. Note that cancellation charges may apply.

Assume NZSL interpreters will always be needed

NZSL interpreters should be booked for a meeting or event where Deaf people will be present. This will go a long way towards ensuring equitable access for Deaf people. Written English is not a valid substitute for NZSL interpreters.

Book a NZSL interpreter if there is a risk that a Deaf person may not fully understand information provided in English. In such cases, without NZSL interpreters present the Deaf person will have restricted access to a government service. Or, in a worst case, errors could be made in the Deaf person’s access to assistance or services.

It is especially important to provide a NZSL interpreter in situations such as where informed consent is being sought or an assessment of their personal health needs is being done.

Always check with the Deaf person if they have any particular requirements and preferences before you book a NZSL interpreter.

NZSL interpreters and booking agencies may request information about a Deaf person to judge the interpreter's competency to interpret for a particular client and in a particular situation.

Before a meeting and on request

Book a NZSL interpreter if the Deaf person, a family member or a Deaf representative (such as a support person or advocate) makes a request for one to be present.

During or after a face-to-face meeting                        

If you have concerns or difficulties in communicating with a Deaf person during a meeting, especially if it is the first time you have met them, ask the Deaf person if they would like a NZSL interpreter booked for any further meetings.

Next section: How do I book a NZSL interpreter?

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A guide to working with NZSL interpreters

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