Supporting children who are Deaf and hard of hearing

Learn about the resources and supports available for children who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Parents, caregivers and whānau
  • Educators, teachers and kaiako
  • All Early Learning Services
  • Boards
  • Principals and tumuaki

Definition of Deaf and hard of hearing

'Deaf' and 'hard of hearing' refer to children and young people from birth to 18 years of age (21 if still at school) who are identified with a bilateral or unilateral permanent hearing loss and/or auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder.

Parents and teachers may notice that a child or young person is having difficulty listening at home or in the classroom. The family can seek a hearing assessment through their doctor and loca district health board audiological services.

Support takes an individual approach

Ko te ahurei o te whānau ārahia o tatou mahi.
Let the uniqueness of the family guide our work.

Every child’s needs and circumstances are unique. The supports provided may differ for each child and young person depending on their needs, age and circumstances.

Support focuses on building the confidence and capability of family and whānau and teachers to support the child. Support is based around a single plan for each child or young person to achieve their learning goals and includes flexibility to respond to individual needs.

About advisers on deaf children

Advisers on deaf children work:

  • alongside children identified as Deaf and hard of hearing and their families and whānau from birth to Year 3 at school
  • together with others as a team. The team includes parents, whānau, educators and any other specialists and agencies. Teams work collaboratively to develop a plan, provide information and a range of appropriate supports as required.

One person from the team is the family/whānau link and other professionals may become involved to help as specific goals or needs for support are identified for the child and family through a collaborative process.

Advice and guidance on communication and language development is provided along with resources and programmes required to meet the developmental and educational needs of the child and their family and whānau through early childhood and into school.

Support for family and whānau

Advisers on deaf children provide support for support family and whānau to achieve desired outcomes for their tamariki. The support they provide:

  • is family and whānau-centred
  • respects informed choice
  • is in the child's natural settings – homes, early childhood centres and schools
  • uses an adult coaching approach for family, whānau and teachers
  • uses a routine and strengths-based approach with family and whānau when identifying goals for their children
  • works in a culturally responsive way
  • works collaboratively with speech language therapists, early intervention teachers, kaitakawaenga, first sign facilitators, resource teachers of the deaf and cochlear implant habilitationists.

Collaboration with other agencies

Advisers on deaf children work collaboratively with other agencies listed below and also district health board (DHB) audiologists.

To discuss or request support phone or email your regional Ministry office.

Regional Ministry offices

How to access support services

There are a range of services available depending on the identified needs and the goals set.

Support services may be provided by the school, resource teachers of the deaf, advisers on deaf children and early intervention teams and/or by other providers.

Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education New Zealand

Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education provides a national network of services for students who are Deaf and hard of hearing.

They provide support for these students in their local schools through their resource teachers of the deaf service.

Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education New Zealand(external link)

Freephone (NZ only): 0800 332 369



Postal address:

Private Bag 93008
New Lynn
Waitakere 0640

Physical address:

3 Archibald Road
Waitakere 0602


Postal address:

PO Box 17715
Christchurch 8840

Physical address:

38 Truro Street
Christchurch 8081

First signs

First Signs provides support for families and whānau of Deaf or hard of hearing children from birth to 5 years.

They provide families and whānau with opportunities to learn New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), introduce them to Deaf culture and Deaf community and support their child’s development.

Phone: 0800 333 2322


Cochlear implant programmes

Northern Cochlear Implant Programme

The Hearing House is based in Auckland and provides programme services north of Taupō.

Hearing House(external link)

Northern Cochlear Implant Programme(external link)

Freephone (NZ only): 0800 254 783


Southern Cochlear Implant Programme

Southern Cochlear Implant Programme is based in Christchurch and provides services south of Taupō.

Southern Cochlear Implant Programme(external link)

Freephone (NZ only): 0800 500 405


Deaf Children New Zealand Tamariki Turi O Aotearoa

Deaf Children New Zealand Tamariki Turi O Aotearoa is a parent-led volunteer organisation that supports parents and families of Deaf and hard of hearing children.

Deaf Children New Zealand Tamariki Turi O Aotearoa(external link)

Freephone (NZ only): 0800 332 324

Text: 027 214 6901


Deaf Aotearoa

Deaf Aotearoa is the national organisation representing the voice of Deaf people and the national service provider for Deaf people in New Zealand.

Deaf Aotearoa(external link)

Freephone (NZ only): 0800 332 332




Communication support for preschool children who are Deaf or hard of hearing – Parents & whānau website(external link)

Early intervention information for parents – Parents & whānau website(external link)

The Incredible Years for parents – Te Kete Ipurangi(external link)

It Takes Two to Talk – The Hanen Centre(external link)

New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) support – First Signs(external link)

The Family Book | He pukapuka āwhina mā ngā whānau – Deaf Children NZ(external link)


Learning language and loving it – The Hanen Centre(external link)

The Incredible Years for teachers – Te Kete Ipurangi(external link)

Much More Than Words – SE Online(external link)

NZSL Week videos 

There are 3 weeks of instructional videos on the Deaf Aotearoa website.

The videos cover basic NZSL and Deaf culture.

Week 1 – NZSL Week(external link)

Week 2 – NZSL Week(external link)

Week 3 – NZSL Week(external link)

Programme evaluations

NZSL@School Service

Evaluation of the NZSL@School Service 2021

First Signs evaluation 2019

Summary of the 2019 First Signs evaluation (English) [PDF, 570 KB]

First Signs evaluation summary (NZSL) – Vimeo(external link)

First Signs evaluation outcomes (NZSL) – Vimeo(external link)

First Signs evaluation areas for improvement (NZSL version) – Vimeo(external link)

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback