A New World supermarket in Nelson will launch a trial sign language checkout aisle next week.
The initiative was suggested by Hearing Nelson president Connie Charlton in response to difficulties experienced by deaf and hearing impaired customers – many of whom rely on lip reading in supermarket transactions – in communicating across barriers and through face masks during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Being hard-of-hearing myself, I read lips quite a lot, so I got to thinking about how we could help the hard-of-hearing – which is what Hearing Nelson is all about – how can we help those people to communicate,” said Charlton in a Radio New Zealand report.
She added that the trial may help such people feel appreciated, valued and welcomed by society at a difficult time, and would be a “good way to mark Sign Language Week later this month”.
Customers who choose to use that aisle can talk if they wish but also use sign language to communicate.
“It will be just basic things like ‘hello’, and ‘have you got your clubcard’, ‘have you got a shopping bag’ – just little things like that, that make it easy to go through the checkout.”
Signing was recognised as an official New Zealand language in 2006.