ACCESSIBLE ARTS: This video, made by Deafradio’s Seeflow translation service for Arts Access Aotearoa, lets Deaf people know about some of the ways artists, performing arts companies, festivals, museums, galleries and venues can make the arts more accessible to Deaf people. Read more

NZSL interpreted performances

Sign interpretation of live performance (e.g. plays, musicals, operas, book readings, concerts)  require qualified Sign Language interpreters to interpret what is being said for Deaf people who use New Zealand Sign Language to communicate.

There are various approaches and styles, depending on the artform, the actual work and the venue. For theatre performance, consider whether it’s best to use the conventional approach with the interpreter at the side of the stage, or to integrate the interpreter into the action on the stage.

Some key things to consider

After you’ve engaged with the local Deaf community, here are some other key things to consider:

  • Download and read the Q & A insight about interpreting theatre.
  • Book your sign interpreter/s well in advance – at least one month ahead. Make sure they have access to the scripts and plenty of opportunity to watch final rehearsals and practise.
  • Just before the signed performance, some Deaf people may find it helpful to attend a short meeting in a separate room with the interpreters. This would provide an overview of the story and any tips to make the signed performance easier to follow.
  • Plan with your interpreters where they will stand and which seats to reserve so Deaf audience members can see them. Make sure there’s sufficient lighting on the interpreter at all times.
  • Some Deaf people may appreciate a copy of the script and a synopsis of the information in advance. This could be offered at the time of booking to ensure there is sufficient time to read it before the performance.
  • Make sure your staff are trained to communicate with Deaf people. It might be a good opportunity to offer your staff some training in New Zealand Sign Language so they can give a friendly greeting when your patrons arrive.

What are some key differences between sign interpreting a meeting and theatre? What are some of the challenges of interpreting theatre? And what should venues or companies consider before booking a sign interpreted performance? New Zealand Sign Language interpreter  and arts practitioner Saran Goldie-Anderson provides insights into the multiple skills required to sign interpret theatre.


PDF icon Q & A insight: Sign interpreting theatre

WORD iconQ & A insight: Sign interpreting theatre

Auckland Arts Access Advocates Lorraine McQuigg, Rachel Coppage and Debra Bathgate provide some useful tips to make your arts events accessible to Deaf and hearing impaired people.


PDF icon Making arts events accessible to Deaf and hearing impaired peopleand hearing impaired people

WORD icon Making arts events accessible to Deaf and hearing impaired peopleand hearing impaired people

Sign Language on RNZ's Upbeat programme

CONNECTING WITH THE DEAF COMMUNITY: Top marks to RNZ's Upbeat programme for this interview with Deaf filmmaker Jared Flitcroft, who talks to producer Zoe George about his short film Tama, using New Zealand Sign Language. Thanks to NZSL interpreter Angela Murray. Watch the interview and then read more about Tama.



Stace Robertson: Stace is Lead Accessibility Advisor, Arts Access Aotearoa (T: 04802 4349 E: Stace works Monday to Thursday.  More about Stace

Milly Hampton: Milly is Arts For All Activator, Arts Access Aotearoa (T: 04802 4349 E: Milly works Monday to Thursday.  More about Milly

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Connect through music: this video was made by Lala Rolls of Island Productions Aotearoa for Arts Access Aotearoa and Chamber Music New Zealand.

Access for all:
“The good thing about being focused on access and accessibility is that you create a better experience for everybody,” says Philip Patston in this video, made by Lala Rolls of Island Productions Aotearoa for Arts Access Aotearoa. 


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