Sign language for an emergency

Last Updated : 12 May 2022
Deaf Week AEM

This week is New Zealand Sign Language week and Auckland Emergency Management in partnership with Deaf Aotearoa and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is bringing a cool new resource to teach kiwis how to use different signs during an emergency.

I am Deaf. Let’s talk: 25 signs to learn for emergencies

This resource will have 25 different signs to learn for emergencies that cover a range of topics from different hazards such as ‘tsunami’ or ‘flooding’, to actions people might need to take like ‘go to high ground’.

“We want all our communities to be included when it comes to supporting one another during an emergency, and this resource helps people begin their journey with New Zealand Sign Language,” says Auckland Emergency Management General Manager Paul Amaral.

“The words are chosen carefully considering their frequency of use before, during and after an emergency event. Each of these words will also have a QR code associated with them which will allow people to scan and be transferred to a video of the sign being used in a sentence.

“We hope that Aucklanders will feel more confident and capable of communicating in various situations with all members of the community.”

Paul says now is a good opportunity for families and friends to have conversations about planning for emergencies, especially knowing how to communicate with all members of their neighbourhoods and communities during an emergency.

You can access the booklet resource, NZSL videos for the signs and further details on both NZSL Week and Auckland Emergency Management websites.

What is New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Week about?

NZSL became an official language of Aotearoa New Zealand in 2006 when the NZSL Act passed into law.

In 2007 we celebrated NZSL Week for the first time. The aim of NZSL Week is to raise awareness of NZSL and to encourage all New Zealanders to learn and use our language. The week is also an opportunity to learn about the New Zealand Deaf community and our Deaf culture.

NZSL Week adds to the rich and diverse identity of Aotearoa New Zealand.

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