Struggling to Communicate - Ali's Story

I am a Somali refugee. I am deaf and use my native sign language as well as New Zealand sign language. I have huge difficulty communicating with staff in cafes, supermarkets, dairies, shopping malls and the settlement centre.

The staff do not understand sign language and do not seem prepared to write anything down on paper for me. This often causes me to give up trying to communicate with people, particularly as my English is still not very good.

I have a deaf support worker who visits me twice a week and speaks on my behalf with people and businesses. I want to become independent and contribute to my new country but am increasingly frustrated because people do not know any sign language.


An accessibility act should ensure that all public services including transport and education providers train people in NZSL which is an official language in this country.


This is my access story, it is one of many. I'm sharing it because I want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.

What's your story?

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