Auckland Transport introduces sign language on public transport signage

Posted: 10 May 2024 | | No comments yet

Auckland Transport integrates New Zealand Sign Language into digital displays at Waitematā (Britomart) train station, advancing accessibility and safety for the deaf community.

Auckland Transport introduces sign language on public transport signage

Auckland Transport (AT) has announced that it has initiated a significant upgrade across its public transport network, becoming the first city in New Zealand to integrate sign language into its digital signage system.

The roll-out at the Waitematā (Britomart) train station will feature New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) on key digital displays. This initiative is part of Auckland Transport’s ongoing commitment to fostering an inclusive and safe transport environment.

Teresa Burnett, General Manager of Transport Safety at AT, highlighted the importance of this development, stating, “In consultation with PTAG [Public Transport Accessibility Group], we recognised the need for changes to our facility’s safety and directional messaging to include the deaf community, particularly in the event of a serious network disruption such as the need to evacuate a major station like Waitematā.”

PTAG, a regional advisory body representing diverse community sectors including the deaf, blind, youth, seniors, physically disabled and neurodiverse populations, has played a pivotal role in shaping this initiative.

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Over the past six months, Auckland Transport has been working closely with PTAG to create a suite of NZSL videos addressing safety protocols and station information for various scenarios, ensuring accessibility during both routine operations and emergencies.

Plans to roll-out the video in sign language across the ferry network are also well underway, and if received positively by the deaf and hearing-impaired community, will be extended across the remaining AT train and bus fleet.

“We are also working on te reo Māori translation of the video messaging, so it will be great to eventually have both of our official languages represented, along with English in the months ahead,” said Burnett.

The move is particularly significant given the challenges faced by a significant portion of the deaf community in reading English text efficiently. This pilot programme aims to start addressing this gap for the community and AT is committed to keep improving accessibility on public transport for all.