A family with a deaf toddler in West Auckland had their lives changed by a sign language programme that’s now set to extend its reach to more whānau.
Deaf Aotearoa’s First Signs service, which supports families of deaf children under five, has received a funding boost of $2.8million for the next four years.
The money, from this year’s budget, will see the programme reach 280 families per year by 2026, up from around 190 families right now.
Deaf Aotearoa says this is less than 20 per cent of the deaf children in New Zealand who could benefit from the service, lagging behind the first-world international standard of reaching 50 per cent of deaf children under the age of five through similar programmes.
The organisation says there’s a backlog of families in need, as 200 new deaf babies are born each year.