Bachelor of Arts - New Zealand Sign Language - English Interpreting

Watch: Deaf health stories

The "Deaf health stories" project (2017) explores the experiences of Deaf New Zealanders in accessing healthcare and health information. 40 Deaf people from around New Zealand shared their stories about barriers in this setting as well as strategies they have used in advocating for their right to access information, communication, and make informed decisions. This video shows some of the main themes found across the stories, as told by participants themselves. The project was funded by the New Zealand Sign Language Fund.

Researchers: George Major, Lynette Pivac & Susie Ovens

New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is recognised as an official, native language of New Zealand. NZSL – English interpreting is a growing profession in New Zealand.

The status of NZSL as an official native language of New Zealand is held in high regard overseas and more research is needed in the areas of NZSL and interpreting to raise awareness of the issues and develop solutions.

  • AUT is the only place in New Zealand where you can train to become a qualified NZSL-English Interpreter
  • Our team of lecturers includes some of the most highly regarded people in their field
  • AUT's close relationship with industry practitioners and the Deaf community offers students the opportunity to work alongside and learn from experienced future colleagues and clients
  • The BA Major in NZSL English Interpreting (AK3006) is a comprehensive course designed to prepare professional interpreters to work between Deaf and hearing consumers
  • This programme was developed with input from Deaf Aotearoa, Sign Language Interpreters Association of New Zealand (SLIANZ) and other industry organisations.

Career opportunities

Opportunities exist in various interpreting settings in the Deaf community, including:

  • Counselling
  • Education
  • Events
  • Legal profession
  • Medical centres and district health boards
  • Mental health
Discover the exciting careers available to you: A Future in Sign Language and Interpreting pdf icon

Structure and content

Our dynamic classroom environment encourages student participation at each stage of the learning journey. Relationships with the Deaf community, interpreting fraternity and local booking agencies mean students have access to up to date information delivered in a variety of modes.

These include guest speakers, work experience, use of online learning packages and technology that allows staff to interact with students directly to provide valuable feedback.

You will learn:

  • Advanced NZSL skills that provide communication access to the Deaf community
  • A range of interpreting skills and knowledge that will allow new graduates to enter the workforce and undertake assignments as a professional interpreter
  • Ethical decision making skills to aid future professionals in all aspects of interpreting practice.
  • Linguistic knowledge of your working languages which allows interpreters to better understand the translation and interpreting processes.
  • Business-related skills like invoicing, taxation obligations and professional conduct


All papers are taught in NZSL and/or English.

Core papers
COMM570 Academic Communication
COMM610 iReflect
COMM600 iCommunicate
COMM700 iResearch
SOSC581 Research and Analysis
TIKA503 Ki te Whaiao: Maori Culture and Society
CLSY602 Aotearoa New Zealand Culture and Society

For a complete list of the core papers see Bachelor of Arts overview page.

Year 1 (compulsory) papers
NZSL501 New Zealand Sign Language I
NZSL601 New Zealand Sign Language II
NZSL502 Deaf community and culture I
NZSL602 Deaf community and culture II

The first year focuses on the development of receptive and expressive fluency in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), and the study of the Deaf community and culture.

You need to successfully complete Year 1 papers with at least a B grade average in the language papers to progress to Year 2. If you don't achieve at least a B grade average in the Year 1 language papers, you need to continue with an alternative major.

Year 2 papers
NZSL603 New Zealand Sign Language 3
TRIN603 Theory and Practice of Interpreting
TRIN604 Societal Contexts for Interpreting
NZSL701 New Zealand Sign Language 4
NZSL702 Current Issues in the Deaf World
NZSL703 Comparative Analysis of English and NZSL
NZSL704 NZSL Interpreting 1 — Dialogic Interactions

In the second and third years, you are introduced to the interpreting profession, including the history of interpreting internationally and in New Zealand. Specific interpreting skills are taught sequentially. You also learn comparative linguistics of your two working languages, and how to make ethical decisions.

Year 3 papers
NZSL705 NZSL Interpreting 2 — Monologic Interactions
NZSL706 NZSL Interpreting 3 — Advanced Interpreting Techniques
TRIN708 Advanced Legal Interpreting and/or TRIN705 Advanced Health Interpreting
TRIN702 Advanced Interpretation Legal Studies and/or TRIN704 Advanced Interpretation Health Studies
NZSL707 NZSL Interpreting Practicum Experience I — Observations
NZSL708 NZSL Interpreting Practicum Experience II — Professional Practice

Minors and electives

For a complete list of the potential electives, see Minors in the Bachelor of Arts


The Ministry of Education provides scholarships for NZSL Interpreting students who aspire to work as qualified NZSL interpreters in educational settings. Any student accepted into the BA NZSL-English interpreting can apply for this scholarship.

Find out more information at the Ministry of Education site

The Ministry of Economic Development funds scholarships to support students to contribute to building a qualified national NZSL interpreter workforce by becoming qualified NZSL interpreters. These scholarships fund second and third year students who wish to complete the BA in New Zealand Sign Language at AUT.

See this AUT Scholarships page for more information

Last updated: 11-May-2017 12.16pm

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.