A series of health information videos in New Zealand Sign Language has been released to enable the Deaf community to access important health information.
This is the first time common health conditions have been explained in detail in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).
The videos were made with funding from NZ Lotteries and spearheaded by Platform|Atamira Trust’s Deaf Mental Health and Addictions Programme Manager Jo Witko, in partnership with Health Navigator and Deaf Radio, who undertook the translation process and developed the videos.
“Access to this critical health information been a long time coming, considering NZSL has been an official language since 2006 and more work is needed to ensure equity of access to healthcare for Deaf people’ Ms Witko says.
The videos are being released to coincide with New Zealand Sign Language Week which runs from 9-15 May. The theme this year is NZSL is Essential, which strongly aligns with the need for more health information in NZSL.
There are 42 videos covering seven essential health topics and each video is a few minutes long:
The health information in the videos has been translated from the Health Navigator New Zealand website.
Real need for health information in NZSL
Former Victoria University lecturer and Deaf Studies researcher David McKee, who is Deaf, was part of the project team set up to develop the videos.
He says it’s great to have Deaf people signing the videos as it is more natural.
“Deaf people have presented the information into New Zealand Sign Language so it’s a really comfortable watch for Deaf people.”
He says there is a real need to provide health information in NZSL.
“For many Deaf people, English is their second language and there is a range of literacy and confidence when reading and writing,” Dr McKee says.
Deaf people face many obstacles when accessing healthcare.
“A lot of Deaf people go to the doctor, and they have to write notes in English because they can’t always get an interpreter, which can result in breakdowns in communication, a loss of confidence and poorer health outcomes.”
Dr McKee says he hopes the videos will give Deaf people confidence and autonomy around managing their health, as well as easy access to important health information.