Confirmed victory
Petitioning New Zealand Government and 2 others

Pay for live closed captioning of Question Time debates in the Parliament.

Mojo Mathers, New Zealand's first Deaf MP, is being forced to use her own personnel allowance to pay for the live closed captioning of Question Time debates [1].

Not only is this a prerequisite for her participation in the debate - an essential part of her job - but live closed captioning of Question Time debates in Parliament would also benefit thousands of hearing impaired New Zealanders who are kept from participating in democracy in this important way.

The New Zealand Parliament has an obligation to make debates accessible to the people it represents and the representatives who serve them. This is one of the oldest traditions of the Westminster system. It is ridiculous that Question Time is only available live to people who can comprehend spoken English, one of New Zealand's three official languages.

There are 9,000 people in New Zealand who are culturally Deaf and use New Zealand Sign Language as a primary language [2]. New Zealand Sign Language is New Zealand's third official language, Maori being second. There are thousands more people who have hearing impairments that prohibit them from understanding Question Time as it happens. The costs of a live captioner should therefore be borne by Parliamentary Services in the interests of public accessibility. 

Lockwood Smith, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, says he's unable to authorise staffing hours for the captioning service, although the technology has been provided [3]. Parliamentary Services should consider the fact that closed captioning service for Question Time would benefit thousands of New Zealanders. This is a simple issue of access and rights. 

Please help ensure that our democracy is accessible for ALL -- sign the petition now. 

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[1] http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/6414948/Deaf-MP-made-to-pay 

[2] http://www.deaf.co.nz/nz-sign-language/about-sign-language/interesting-facts

[3] http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/speaker-defends-deaf-mp-funding-decision-4721631

Letter to
New Zealand Government
Speaker of the House of Representatives Lockwood Smith
Minister for Disability Services Tariana Turia
Mojo Mathers, New Zealand's first Deaf MP, is being forced to use her personnel allowance to pay for the live closed captioning of Question Time debates ( http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/6414948/Deaf-MP-made-to-pay ). Not only is this a prerequisite for her participation in the debate - an important part of her job - but live closed captioning of Question Time debates in Parliament would also benefit thousands of hearing impaired New Zealanders who are kept from participating in democracy in this important way.

There are 9,000 people in New Zealand who are culturally Deaf and use New Zealand Sign Language as a primary language ( http://www.deaf.co.nz/nz-sign-language/about-sign-language/interesting-facts ). New Zealand Sign Language is New Zealand's third official language, Maori being second. There are thousands more people who have hearing impairments that prohibit them from understanding Question Time as it happens.

The New Zealand Parliament has an obligation to the people it represents and the representatives who serve them to make debates accessible. This is one of the oldest traditions of the Westminster system. It is ridiculous that Question Time is only available live to people who can comprehend spoken English, one of New Zealand's three official languages.

Lockwood Smith, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, says that the Speaker's office can not authorise the introduction of a live captioner ( http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/6414948/Speaker-hits-back-in-technology-row ), although Parliamentary Services has already paid for and installed the necessary technology. Smith says he will take the issue to the Parliamentary Services Commission on March 7. When the issue faces the commission, it should be mentioned that closed captioning would not only allow Mojo Mathers to perform her elected duties, but would also allow thousands of disenfranchised hearing-impaired people to become involved in our Parliament by following Question Time. This is necessary for thousands of Deaf and hearing-impaired New Zealanders, not only those who voted for Mojo Mathers or the Green Party - and as such, the costs should be borne by Parliamentary Services rather than any party.

Live closed captioning of Question Time debates in Parliament should not be the responsibility of Mojo Mathers' staff, because it would also benefit the thousands of New Zealanders who are precluded from full democratic participation by hearing disabilities.

Sincerely,