International research suggests the Deaf community has poorer health outcomes compared to the general population. We know effective communication in healthcare settings contributes to good patient outcomes and this requires recognition of linguistic and cultural differences.For the Deaf community this means adequate use of NZSL interpreters.

Can I have a NZSL interpreter?

Yes, qualified NZSL interpreters should be used in all ‘high consequence’ circumstances 24/7.E.g., health consultations, including assessment, treatment and discussions around medication.

  1. Ask the Deaf person if they want a NZSL interpreter?
  2. If yes, do they have a preferred interpreter?

Who pays?

For appointments with my independent midwife, GP, Plunket, ultrasound appointments, antenatal classes:

iSign pays for the interpreter, contact iSign at:

For appointments based at the hospital (delivery, woman’s health etc.)

  • The DHB pays.

Who’s responsible for booking the interpreter?

The organisation (not the Deaf person) is responsible for booking the interpreter.However, if there are any problems getting an interpreter the Deaf person can text iSign on 3359.

What should I do if no NZSL interpreters are available?

Discuss with the Deaf person the best way to communicate, some options include:

  • Using the Video Relay Interpreting service (available between 8am-8pm, Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm Saturday and 12pm-5pm Sunday). The service is also available during these hours on public holidays.
  • Postpone the appointment until you can get an interpreter
  • Use note writing, online videos, gesture, lip reading, family/friend to interpret (NB: these options are risky and should be considered as a last resort)
  • Check out these videos.

What is the Video Interpreting Service (VIS)?

  • VIS uses a qualified NZSL interpreter via skype through the screen names NZVIS01 - NZVIS07
  • A hearing person can also call a deaf person who uses skype via VIS by calling 0800 4877 877.
  • VIS should usually be a backup option
  • ED at Wellington Regional Hospital and Kenepuru Community Hospital have iPads set up ready to use VIS
  • For more information, check out

Contact us

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

Last updated 23 September 2021.