Supporting children who are deaf and hard of hearing

Learn about the supports available for children identified as deaf and hard of hearing and their families, whānau, early childhood teachers and teachers from birth to when they finish school.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau
  • Educators, Teachers and Kaiako
  • All Early Learning Services
  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki

Resources including the Advisors on Deaf Children and other providers can support in the education and wellbeing of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

An individual approach

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

The support focuses on building the confidence and capability of family and whānau and teachers to support the child. The 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.

Defining ‘deaf and hard of hearing’

Deaf and Hard of Hearing refers to children and young people birth to 18 years of age (21 if still at school) 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 may have difficulty listening in the home or in a classroom, the family can seek a hearing assessment through their doctor and local District Health Board audiological services.

Advisers on Deaf Children (AoDC)

Ko te ahurei o te whānau ārahia o tatou mahi.

Let the uniqueness of the family guide our work.

Advisers on Deaf Children (AoDC) 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.

AoDC support for family and whānau

To support family and whānau to achieve desired outcomes for their tamariki we provide support:

  • in a family and whānau centred way
  • respecting informed choice
  • in natural settings – homes, early childhood centres and schools
  • using an adult coaching approach for family, whānau and teachers
  • using a routine and strength based approach with family and whānau when identifying goals for their children
  • working in a culturally responsive way
  • working collaboratively with Speech Language Therapists, Early Intervention Teachers, Kaitakawaenga, First Sign Facilitators, Resource Teachers of the Deaf and Cochlear implant Habilitationists.

AoDC collaboration with other agencies

We 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.

Services and supports available

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 such as:

Services Contact Details 

Ko Taku Reo Deaf Education New Zealand(external link)

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 Deaf service

Phone: 0800 332 369



Postal Address:
Private Bag 93008
New Lynn
Waitakere 0640


Postal Address:
P O Box 17715
Christchurch 8840

Physical Address:
3 Archibald Road
Waitakere 0602

Physical Address:
38 Truro Street
Christchurch 8081

First Signs(external link) provides support for families and whānau of Deaf or Hard of Hearing children aged 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


The Cochlear Implant Programmes may provide support services for children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing identified with severe to profound hearing loss

Northern Cochlear Implant Programme(external link)

The Hearing House(external link) is based in Auckland and provides services north of Taupo.

Phone: +64 9 579 2333 or 0800 254 783

Email: reception@heariing

Southern Cochlear Implant Programme(external link) (SCIP) is based in Christchurch and provides services south of Taupo.

Phone: +64 3 355 3041 or 0800 500 405


Deaf Children New Zealand Tamariki Turi O Aotearoa(external link) is a parent-led, volunteer organisation that supports parents and families of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

Phone: 0800 DEAFCHILD or 0800 332 324

Text: 027 214 6901


Deaf Aotearoa(external link) is the national organisation representing the voice of Deaf people, and the national service provider for Deaf people in New Zealand

Phone: 0800 332 332


Learn more

Communication support for pre-school children who are deaf or hard of hearing

Communication support for pre-school children who are deaf or hard of hearing - information sheet(external link)

The Family Book, An introduction for families and whānau of children identified as Deaf and Hard of Hearing(external link) 

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

Early intervention information for parents — Parents website(external link)

The Incredible Years Parent information — Te Kete Ipurangi website(external link)

The Incredible Years Teacher programme — Te Kete Ipurangi website(external link)

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

Learning Language and Loving it — The Hanen Centre website(external link)

Much More Than Words — communication development resource, SE Online website(external link)

Summary of First Signs Evaluation 2019

Summary of First Signs Evaluation 2019 (English version) [PDF, 570 KB]

Summary of First Signs Evaluation 2019 (NZSL version)(external link)

Summary of First Signs Evaluation 2019 (NZSL version) - Outcomes(external link)

Summary of First Signs Evaluation 2019 (NZSL version) - Areas for Improvement(external link)

NZSL videos for young school aged students

There are 3 weeks of instructional videos (14 lessons) covering basic NZSL and Deaf culture available on the Deaf Aotearoa website. These were developed in 2020 as part of NZSL week and include young people who are NZSL users. These videos were designed for young school aged children aged 5-8 years and their teachers so NZSL instructional material is available in NZSL week and any week of the year.

Week 1 - NZSL Week website(external link)

Week 2 - NZSL Week website(external link)

Week 3 - NZSL Week website(external link)

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