Chen Palmer to help develop online guidance on New Zealand Sign Language Act

The online guidance is geared towards New Zealand’s government departments

Chen Palmer to help develop online guidance on New Zealand Sign Language Act

Chen Palmer has been contracted to help develop an online guidance on the New Zealand Sign Language Act (NZSL) 2006.

The firm will work together with the Superdiversity Institute of Law, Policy and Business on the project, which is geared towards improving the understanding of New Zealand’s government departments with regard to their obligations under the NZSL Act.

“NZSL is recognised as one of the three official languages of New Zealand under the act. However, only 0.5% (22,986 people) of the population use it, and therefore it is considered a threatened language,” said Chen Palmer managing partner Mai Chen, who also chairs the Superdiversity Institute. “The online publication will provide plain English, easy to understand and legally accurate guidance to government departments so that they meet their commitments under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and their obligations under the NZSL Act.”

The guidance, Chen said, will enable the government to better communicate with NZSL users and the Deaf community. It will delve into the NZSL Act’s purpose and principles, the associated obligations of government departments and the practical application of these. Moreover, the guidance will instruct departments on measuring their compliance with the NZSL Act.

In developing the guidance, Chen Palmer and the Superdiversity Institute will consult with various Deaf stakeholders.

“Chen Palmer has provided expert advice to disability organisations on the New Zealand government’s compliance with the UNCRPD, and we have also provided legislative analysis of the then-Sign Language Act 2006 to other organisations,” Chen said. “We look forward to working with the Office of Disability Issues and New Zealand Sign Language Board on these guidelines.”

The firm pointed out that among its areas of expertise is interpreting and advising government departments on their statutory obligations in relation to the needs of the country’s superdiverse population.

“It is so important that New Zealanders who need sign language to communicate can properly interface with government,” Chen said.

The guidance is expected to be presented to the Office of Disability Issues in June. Chen Palmer and the Superdiversity Institute will also generate an overview of the guidance in both English and NZSL.

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