Each country has its own unique Sign Language. In 2006, New Zealand Sign Language was recognised as the 2nd official language of Aotearoa alongside Te Reo Maori.

There are approximately 7,000-9,000 deaf people and 20,235 New Zealand Sign Language users in Aotearoa (Census 2013). Hundreds of qualified NZ Sign Language interpreters work with Deaf clients in Aotearoa to access the wider community every day.

Deaf people can request an interpreter in the following situations -

  • Medical appointments
  • Government agency appointments
  • Employment/education/training
  • Legal/court/police meetings
  • Public events/performances
  • Special events - weddings/funerals/celebrations

The following information is provided by SLIANZ as a position paper/standard practice paper/best practice paper.

As with all occupations in New Zealand, Sign Language Interpreting is covered by the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. One of the major health and safety concerns for Sign Language interpreters is Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS); this is also known by many other names such as Repetitive Strain Injury, Cumulative Trauma Disorder, Cumulative Motion Injury.

In 2005 SLIANZ undertook a major study of various aspects of interpreting, part of this study was to survey members regarding the occurrence of OOS. Results showed that 64% (23/36 respondents) of interpreters either have or have had a work related injury of some kind. This percentage can be compared to overseas figures Australia 32% (Madden: 1999) USA 82% (Scheuerle, Guilford and Habal: 2000) Areas affected by injury include lower back, upper back, neck, shoulder, upper arm, outside elbow, inside elbow, lower arm, wrist and fingers.

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