New Zealand’s deaf community have every right to be outraged after TVNZ decline to use NZSL interpreters in future live debates.
The ironic aspect to all of this is that TVNZ CEO Ken Kenrick said that the broadcaster acknowledges and respects that sign language is recognised as the third official language of New Zealand. And yet, this is not enough to change his stance on the matter, nor is it enough for the broadcaster to find a way to incorporate an interpreter in future televised debates prior to the election.
Instead, TVNZ say that captioning is sufficient, and this will be the status quo on election night.
Broadcaster Refuse To Incorporate NZSL Interpreters Into Future Live Debates
It is just another example of New Zealand’s less fortunate having their basic human rights overlooked, regardless of how TVNZ want to frame their response. TVNZ should have thought of how they would accommodate an interpreter months in advanced, and consulted the deaf community on what the best course of action would be.
Prior to the debates, over 800 people signed a petition sent to TVNZ requesting that sign language be used in the televised debates. This came after TVNZ confirmed they wouldn’t consider having interpreters at the leaders debates.
Kenrick cited “logistical reasons” for not being able to accomodate an interpreter in TVNZ’s live news productions.
Live TV debates are highly dynamic. They are quick fire exchanges, split second shifts between close-ups and wide shots of the participants and people talk over one another. We are not set up to introduce sign language interpreters into an already complex broadcast environment.
It continues a sorry trend for disability issues during this election. At National’s campaign launch, Special Education was overlooked, and at Monday’s #MyVoiceMatters candidates debate, no party managed to convince on any of their policies.