Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The New Zealand Sign Language Act & UNCRPD - Rachel Noble

In New Zealand (NZ) there are three official languages: English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). The law says that they are equal in status.


  • Maori Language Act: 1987
  • NZSL: 2006 recognised
  • UNCRPD signed by NZ in 2007 and ratified in 2008

The NZSL Act took about 20 years of lobbying and advocacy. There were Deaf consultations with the Deaf community. The Deaf community requested several aspected to be incorporated in the NZSL act, but unfortunately not all requests were honoured.

In the act it says that NZSL is an official language and the first and preferred language of the Deaf community. It also gives the right to an interpreter in legal settings and states that government services should be available for all deaf citizens. There were also limitations to the act such as limited funding.

The presenter then made a comparisson between the Maori Language Act and the NZSL act.

The new UNCRPD now brings new items such as accountability of the government. At this moment the NZ government is now in the process of writing up the UN report. The report presents the results of the implementation of the UNCRPD. The presenter gives an overview of the parties involved in NZ in the CRPD monitoring process.

The NZSL Act and the UNCRPD have complementary relationship. The NZSL Act acknowledges us and gives us as sense of pride and belonging. The UNCRPD provides a mechanism to enforce the realisation of our rights ( and aspiration). Both are valuable tools for the NZ Deaf community.

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