Here in New Zealand, sign language is spoken by about 24,000 people, including deaf, hearing impaired and hearing people, and Katy intends to become one of them. And yet a new report just released by the Human Rights Commission shows deaf people still face barriers in using New Zealand Sign Language, particularly when trying to access education and health care. The report, which follows a year-long inquiry, makes a number of recommendations including boosting sign language resourcing in schools and early childhood centres and training health care staff in disability awareness. Ultimately the Human Rights Commission wants to see the establishment of a Statutory Board which would champion the use of New Zealand Sign Language and help deaf people achieve parity with the hearing community.

Students at a New Zealand Sign Language class