TVNZ signs on with Deaf Aotearoa for Leaders Debate

Vote 17 Final Leaders Debate screens with live captions from 7pm, 20 September on TVNZ 1 and
NZSL interpreted Vote 17 Final Leaders Debate available OnDemand the morning of 22 September

New Zealand’s deaf community will have access to both a signed version and live captioning of the 1 NEWS debate between Bill English and Jacinda Ardern in the final week of the Election.

TVNZ in partnership with Deaf Aotearoa will produce a New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) interpreted version of Wednesday’s televised Vote 17 Final Leaders Debate, which will be made available on for viewers to stream OnDemand on Friday morning.

Hard-of-hearing and deaf viewers already have access to live captioning for all four of 1 NEWS’ Election debates.

“The final week before the election is marked around the world as International Week of the Deaf and we’re pleased to play an active role by offering more viewing options for Wednesday’s big debate to our deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers,” says TVNZ Chief Executive Kevin Kenrick.

“It will be the first time we’re presenting both captioning and sign language viewing options, and it would not have been possible without the valuable support from our accessibility partners ABLE and Deaf Aotearoa.”

Captions are produced by ABLE for broadcast on TVNZ channels, giving access to media for those who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, learning English, learning to read or having trouble hearing the television.

Deaf Aotearoa’s Chief Executive Lachlan Keating says his organisation is excited to be working with TVNZ to provide a NZSL interpreted version of the final leaders debate. “NZSL is an official language of New Zealand and this initiative will provide access to political debates in Deaf people’s first or preferred language.”

“The fast pace and quick fire nature of political debates presents a big challenge for live interpreting,” he says.  Three NZSL interpreters will interpret the debate – one each for Bill English, Jacinda Ardern and moderator Mike Hosking. This will be inserted as a ‘picture-in-picture’ on screen. “The day and half turn around will give us time to produce an accurate and high quality interpretation,” he says. 

17% of New Zealanders use captions on a regular basis, says ABLE’s Chief Executive Wendy Youens.  “Able works to make media accessible across New Zealand, so we’re excited to be partnering with TVNZ to provide captioning for their election coverage,” she says. Able is funded by NZ On Air to provide captioning for broadcast television.

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