Monday, 23 April 2012

All About Inclusion

Downtown Community Ministry (DCM) believes that everyone deserves to be understood. This week, we had the fantastic support of a sign language interpreter from iSign to help us.

A deaf homeless person came into DCM needing urgent assistance. Despite staff spending a long time with the person, we were unable to effectively communicate. This was a problem on our behalf due to the lack of signing skills we have as an organisation.
Stephanie McIntyre, director of DCM, says “We rang the Deaf association for their advice, and were directed towards iSign. Less than an hour after this call, an interpreter was onsite.”

iSign is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Deaf Aotearoa. Any profit iSign makes goes back into unfunded work for the Deaf community. The website behind iSign, which includes a system where the public can request interpreters has been online since September 2009.

There are approximately 80 interpreters registered with iSign, and a small team behind the scenes, as well as 3 booking administrators, who organise bookings for the whole country.

Shannon Knox, from iSign, says “One of our booking administrators is Deaf herself, and we are very proud of her for proving that it is possible for a Deaf person to do what is basically a “call centre” job using NZ Relay as well as email and text messaging – and excel 
at it!”

NZ Relay is a system where conversations over the phone are typed and relayed, making it possible for a Deaf person and a hearing person to converse over the phone. This is the system Stephanie encountered when initially contacting iSign to book an interpreter.

“The meeting we had with the person, the interpreter and our staff was fantastic. We were able to ask what we could do to help and provide more assistance for them. We were also able to arrange a follow up meeting to enable us to offer more proactive support. This would not have been possible without the quick and professional service from iSign”, says Stephanie.

You can find out more about iSign at: