Air New Zealand signs food and safety announcements in NZSL

A Deaf person travelling on an Air New Zealand flight where cabin crew used sign language says the experience made him “feel seen”.

In what was claimed as a world first, for New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Week cabin crew on the flight from Auckland to Wellington today signed in-flight passenger safety announcements, along with food and drink services.

People on NZ421 were encouraged to give NZSL a go, with illustrated cards for popular items like “water”, “cookie” and “lolly” placed on seats. The five crew operating the flight all had at least a basic knowledge of the language.

NZSL Week ambassador Jon Tai-Rakena was one of about 30 customers travelling to Wellington to attend the NZSL Awards hosted at Parliament.

The initiative was a great step towards better inclusion for the Deaf community, he said.

“I love to fly and go to new places, but travelling as a Deaf person can feel isolating at times. This flight demonstrates a level of inclusion that makes Deaf people feel seen and welcomed onboard.

“It was exciting to be part of it and I hope there will be more NZSL in the sky and on the ground as Kiwis start to adopt more of our beautiful language.”

A crew member signs

Deaf Aotearoa chief executive Lachlan Keating, who was also on the flight, said it was great to see so many Air New Zealand crew and customers using NZSL.

“This year’s theme for NZSL Week is ‘an Aotearoa where anyone can sign anywhere’, and there was no better example of this than on NZ421 today.

“The more Kiwis incorporate NZSL into their everyday lives, the more inclusive our society is for our Deaf community.”

The NZSL Supporter lapel pin indicates the crew member has started training in sign language.

Sign language is an official language of Aotearoa and airline spokesperson Ed Collett said it has been working hard with Deaf Aotearoa to help staff learn about 30 travel-related signs.

“It’s been hugely popular, with around 400 Air New Zealanders completing it. Customers can look out for crew wearing the special NZSL Supporter lapel pin, which indicates the wearer has started their NZSL journey.”

New Zealand Sign Language Week runs until 12 May.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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