Publication of health information videos in New Zealand Sign Language

A translation of this press release in New Zealand Sign Language is available. here.

GPs and other healthcare professionals now have a series of health information videos in New Zealand Sign Language to help them in their consultations with deaf and hard of hearing people.

The series launches today to provide the deaf and hard of hearing community with access to essential health information. The videos can be found, along with English transcripts, on the Health Navigator NZ website.

This is the first time that common health issues have been explained in detail in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), which is one of New Zealand’s three official languages ​​along with Te Reo Maori and English.

Released to coincide with New Zealand Sign Language Week, which runs from May 9-15, the series reflects this year’s theme of the week: NZSL is Essential.

The videos were made with funding from NZ Lotteries and led by Platform | Atamira Trust, in partnership with Health Navigator and Deafradio, who undertook the translation process and the development of the videos.

“Accessing this essential health information has been a long time, given that NZSL has been an official language since 2006.

There is still a lot of work to be done in this area to ensure equitable access to health information and services for deaf people,” says Ms. Witko.

There are 42 new videos covering seven essential health topics and each is a few minutes long:

  • chest pain
  • vaccines
  • heart disease
  • caress
  • Diabetes
  • asthma
  • osteoarthritis.

The health information in the videos has been translated from Health Navigator NZ.

Real need for health information in NZSL

Former University of Victoria lecturer and Deaf Studies researcher David McKee, who is deaf, was part of the project team that advised on this project.

He says there is a real and critical need to provide more health information in NZSL.

“For many Deaf people, English is their second language and there is a range of literacy and confidence in reading and writing. Their literacy level is not always at a level that allows them to access information in English, and many Deaf people struggle with medical jargon,” says Dr. McKee.

Deaf people also face many barriers when accessing health care.

“Many deaf people go to the doctor and have to write notes in English because they can’t always get an interpreter, which can lead to communication problems, loss of confidence and poorer health outcomes.”

Dr. McKee says he hopes the videos will give deaf people confidence and autonomy in managing their health, as well as easy access to important health information.

“It is also helpful for healthcare workers to have their Deaf patients watch the videos so they can access health information and have background information to ask further questions and make informed decisions about the management of their health.

To watch the videos, go to
Health Navigator New Zealand website.

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