Communications support

Information to help organisations become more accessible and communicate effectively with disabled people.

Communication services

The ability to communicate is an essential part of most jobs. Some disabled people, eg people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or who have learning disabilities, may need help to communicate effectively with colleagues, customers and customer services staff.

Sign language interpreters

They can support deaf people’s communication at events, at meetings and during training. They can be booked through the Deaf Foundation. There is an hourly charge (which may be funded through Job Support Funds or other funding). Contact Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand by Phone: (09) 828 3282, Fax: (09) 828 3235, Email:

NZ Relay Service

This enables deaf, hearing impaired, speech impaired and deafblind users to use telephones. A call to NZ Relay is relayed via a Relay Assistant, who either types or speaks part of the conversation. NZ Relay also provides equipment to buy or rent, including textphones and visual or vibrating alerts for incoming phone calls. NZ Relay Email: Teletype: 0800 4 713 713 Phone: 0800 4 715 715

‘Accessibility’ is the ability for someone to use an organisation’s services and enter their premises, it’s all about removing barriers so that everyone has equal access. The design of a building, the lighting, signage or parking can be a barrier for a person with disability. Increasingly, accessibility is about electronic availability of an organisation to potential workers and customers with a disability. Creating accessible premises and ensuring accessible services makes good business sense. It means that your current and future staff can work in an environment free of barriers, and you meet the needs of your current and future customers.

Standards and Guidelines for Buildings’ Accessibility

There are standards for accessibility of workplaces and other buildings and guidance on how to ensure the physical environmental is barrier-free.

  • NZ Standard 4121 ‘Design for access and mobility: Buildings and associated facilities’

This Standard(external link) gives requirements for making buildings and facilities accessible to and useable by people with physical disabilities. It provides a means of compliance with the New Zealand Building Code and the Building Act 2004.

  • Barrier Free New Zealand Trust

The Trust(external link) provides a range of services to help ensure buildings and premises are accessible. Their approach promotes accessibility for disabled people and universal access for everyone.

When you schedule a meeting, considering accessibility will help people with disabilities overcome barriers they may experience in participating fully in your meeting. 

Accessible meetings and events(external link) on the Ministry of Social Development website has more information.

There are a wide range of organisations which provide equipment and assistive technology and administer funding for adaptive technology. In most cases they will work directly with the individual disabled person, but they can provide advice to employers.

  • Be.Lab(external link) (formerly known as Be. Accessible) focuses on all aspects of accessibility. Their philosophy is to address each of the physical, social and personal aspects of accessibility in orders to maximize the participation of all people – especially those with a disability – in society. Resources on the Be.Lab website can help you improve your organisation’s accessibility, and membership of their organisation can provide ongoing support to help maximise accessibility in your business.
  • Enable New Zealand(external link) is contracted by the Ministry of Health together with the New Zealand Federation of Disability Information Centres, to co-ordinate funding and provide equipment for disabled people who are eligible for Ministry of Health support.
  • New Zealand Federation of Disability Information Centres(external link)
  • Accessable is contracted by the Ministry of Health to co-ordinate equipment and modifications. Accessable(external link) can be contacted on:
    Phone: (09) 620 1700
    Freephone: 0508 001 002
  • Adaptive Technology Solutions(external link) provides flexible technology solutions for people with disabilities & impairments who may be struggling to use their computer or access print. Services include assessments, consultation, training, product sales, personal technology shopper service
    Phone: (04) 528 7600
  • Deaf-Quip has equipment and products for people with hearing impairments, including products designed for use in warehouses, offices and other work environments.
    Phone: (03) 389-0908
  • HumanWare makes accessibility and assistive technology products in four main areas:
    • Braille and Speech
    • Low Vision
    • Orientation
    • Digital Talking Book Players
    • HumanWare Phone: (03) 384 4555
      Fax: (03) 384 4933
  • Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind(external link) provides a range of assistive technology and adaptive equipment for people with visual impairments. They have an online shop which includes a list of suppliers of equipment.
    Phone: 0800 24 33 33


  • Talklink provides assessments for people who have difficulty communicating with speech or writing to determine which assistive technology options will work best for them. They also provide training in using the technology. It does not provide funding or loan equipment.
    Phone: 0800 TALKLINK (0800 825554)

Funding available for assistive equipment

  • The Ministry of Health provides funding for specialist equipment to enable independent living, through Enable and Accessable(external link).
  • ACC(external link) funds equipment to ACC claimants, based on individual rehabilitation funds.
  • Workbridge(external link) provides funding for adaptive equipment through Support Funds, which it administers for the Ministry of Social Development. Support for equipment is usually only available for people who are not supported by other agencies.
  • Mainstream provides funding for adaptive equipment for people placed on the Mainstream Supported Employment programme.

Accessible websites enable people with a range of impairments, including visual, dexterity and hearing impairments to access and use websites more easily. Employers who use intranets also need to consider accessibility. There is a range of information on designing professional, attractive and accessible websites. In most cases, a site which is more accessible for disabled people is easier and more user-friendly for people without a disability, too.

Improving the Accessibility of your website

Free automated web tools, eg Webaim, can review your website in seconds and advise ways in which you can improve its accessibility. Visit: link). For an example see: link)

International website content accessibility standards

This can be found at the W3C website(external link).

New Zealand Government Web Standards

The New Zealand Government Web Standards(external link) apply to any web site that is intended for the public and financed by the public through the crown or through public agencies. Crown Entity and State Owned Enterprises are not mandated to adhere to these standards, but are asked to support the spirit of the NZ Government Web Standards by seeking to comply with the requirements, to ensure as many New Zealanders as possible have access to information online.

Better Information for Everyone

This Human Rights Commissions report focuses on disabled people’s rights in the information age. It includes information about complaints received by the Commission, international and New Zealand legislation, and issues related to the provision of both public and private sector information. There is a section about the Internet and web accessibility standards, as well as NZ and international good practice.

Better information for everyone: Disabled people's rights in the information age [PDF, 1.4MB](external link)

Consultancy services

There are many consultancy services whose express purpose is to help you create a more accessible website. There are several reasons why your website needs to be accessible: Commercial (make more money!), legal (it could be illegal not to), and because “it's the right thing to do”. Examples include;

  • Accessibility NZ website(external link)
  • AccEase(external link) is a communications company which provides web accessibility services, information accessibility and related services to organisations wanting to communicate and work with disabled and older people. They can also assist with advice on customer service and disability competency for staff, and career mentoring for disabled staff.

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