One staff member who can sign

Post by Anne Wyrill

Kia ora!

My name is Anne, this is my sign name.

I have a story from lockdown, alert level 4.

I had to go and get 3 nasal Covid tests done over the various lockdowns that we have had.

The third time I went, I decided to use the Relay Service to call ahead and let them know I was Deaf.

Before I left home, I made sure I was well prepared - I wrote down all my personal information onto a piece of paper, made sure I had my ID with me as well as my doctor's information. I also took a drink and my mask.

I drove to the testing place and got quite a shock to find that there were eleven cars ahead of me all lined up. I went to the end of the queue and expected to be waiting for hours before it was my turn. However, I was surprised to find the the staff, wearing full PPE, moved along the line very quickly. Suddenly it was my turn!

I wound down my window and the nurse started talking to me behind her mask. I used hand signals to ask her to stop and tell her I was Deaf. I asked that she please write notes to communicate with me or use a phone to type messages to me. The nurse understood and started typing into her phone then showed me what she had written. It said, "Excuse me, I have one staff member who can sign. Please wait here while I go and get them". So I nodded and indicated that was fine, and she went to get them.

She came back and signed, "Hello, I can sign", then she started typing a message to me on her phone. The message said, "Sorry, I don't know New Zealand Sign Language, BUT I can use American Sign Language. I have forgotten some, but I can sign the alphabet. Is that ok with you?". I nodded and signed, "yes, fine".

Of course! Did you know that the Deaf Community are very good at finding other Deaf people from all around the world who use all kinds of different Sign Languages? We can find ways to communicate with each other just the same as when hearing people meet others who have different accents.

She started signing to me using the American alphabet, then checked I understood by signing "O-K?" I nodded and showed her all my information which I had prepared earlier and my ID. Then she typed another message into her phone and showed me, it said that I could drive my car to the front of the line. I drove straight to the front of the line, the nurse swabbed up my nose then I drove home.

It was all finished in 10 minutes! That was much shorter than I expected!

Thank you.

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