Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean if a sign language interpreter is a member of SLIANZ?

Interpreters who are members of SLIANZ have chosen to join New Zealand’s only professional body for sign language interpreters. By joining SLIANZ, they have demonstrated a commitment to upholding the SLIANZ Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct that guide their work with Deaf and hearing consumers.

These Codes help to protect the rights of consumers of interpreting services.

What does a sign language interpreter do?

A sign language interpreter facilitates communication between Deaf and hearing people by interpreting between spoken language and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).

Some interpreters can also assist communication with Deaf people who do not sign, but require spoken messages to be relayed with clear lip-patterns. The interpreter’s role is to convey meaning between spoken and signed language, not to become involved in the interpreted event in a substantive way.

The interpreter will not offer advice or opinions on the situation, other than to assist participants to work effectively with the interpreter when necessary. The interpreter will keep the interpreted interaction confidential.

How do I work with an interpreter?

Speak directly to the person you need to talk to, not the interpreter. There is no need to say “tell him” or “ask her.”

Seating needs to be arranged so the Deaf person has a clear view of the interpreter and of the person or people speaking. Ideally the interpreter will be well lit and in front of a plain background. Avoid having the interpreter in front of a bright window or busy backdrop; these settings make it harder for the Deaf person to see the interpreted message clearly.

The interpreter is present only to facilitate communication between Deaf and hearing people. Please do not ask the interpreter to be involved in any way other than interpreting. Interpreting requires intense concentration and physical effort.

To maintain a high standard of accuracy, the interpreter may require short breaks during an assignment that lasts an hour or more, or two interpreters may be needed to work as a team.

For more detailed information, please refer to the Guide for Working with NZSL Interpreters maintained by the Office for Disability Issues.

How do I book a sign language interpreter?

If you wish to book an interpreter you can contact individual members using the information they have provided in the SLIANZ Directory.

You could also contact one of the following agencies, which are listed in no particular order.

iSign –

Connect Interpreting –

Wordsworth Interpreting –

Please note that these links are provided for the convenience of users. They do not imply any endorsement of any these organisations or their services.

Where can I learn New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL)?

See the information on Learning sign language

Where do I train to become an interpreter?

See the information on training to become an interpreter

How do I become a member of SLIANZ?

You can complete a membership form on this website.

Fill it out, provide the appropriate documentation and we’ll be in touch.

Do I have to be an interpreter to be a member of SLIANZ?

Anyone can become a member of SLIANZ. We have several membership categories:

Ordinary Interpreters are members who hold a recognised sign language interpreting qualification.

Associate Individuals are members can be anyone who is interested in belonging to SLIANZ, such as interpreting students, Deaf people, and others interested in the interpreting field.

Associate Corporate members are organisations that want to support the association, its members, and consumers of interpreting services.

I’m from another country and want to interpret in New Zealand. What do I need to do?

See the information for Overseas Interpreters