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Learning NZSL to better support victims

Ever since Jacqui learnt the New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) alphabet when she was a child, she’s had an interest in fully learning the language. She is currently completing Level 6 and 7 of a 9-level course on NZSL, and is loving the opportunity to learn one of New Zealand’s official languages.

Photo of Jacqui smiling

Jacqui is currently Victim Support’s Acting Area Manager for the Southern region. In her role with Victim Support, Jacqui works closely with victims of crime and trauma as they navigate some of the toughest times of their lives. During these times, clear and empathetic communication is absolutely vital.

It was this need for excellent communication that motivated Jacqui to enrol in a NZSL course. She saw it as a great opportunity to be able to provide more personalised support to victims who may be deaf or hard-of-hearing.

To be able to speak with a victim using the language they feel most comfortable speaking is a great way to begin building a supportive and trusting relationship, Jacqui says.

“You’re able to provide people with the best support possible by allowing them the opportunity to speak in their own language. That helps to build a relationship, and 95% of what we do is relationship building with the victims we support.”

“Of course, it would be possible to communicate with victims via text and email, but to me there’s something that feels more personal about actually signing,” she says. “Even just knowing the basics of NZSL, things like what’s your name or how many children do you have, can help somebody feel at ease.”