Hearing and vision services
There are a range of hearing and vision services to support your everyday life, maintain your independence and connect with the wider community. These include services for Deaf people and Deafblind people and people with hearing and vision loss.
On this page
Deaf or difficulty hearing
If you're Deaf or experiencing hearing loss, the following services are available:
Ministry-funded services and information
- Deaf or hearing loss equipment: Equipment like hearing aids can help people who are hard of hearing to live well and communicate with others. If you have hearing loss you may be able to get funding towards your hearing aids. For school-aged children the Ministry of Education may be able to fund a remote microphone (RM) hearing system. Find out more about:
- Cochlear implants: A cochlear implant provides a sense of sound for people who are severely hard of hearing or profoundly deaf. Around 166 cochlear implants are provided each year through the Ministry's cochlear implant programme.
- Education for children who are Deaf or have hearing loss: If your child is Deaf or has hearing loss, their local school can provide education and support services. An Advisor on Deaf Children will discuss what support you and your child might need. This is a free service.
- Support with hearing loss equipment costs: If you aren't eligible for funding for hearing aids or equipment the NZ Audiological Society (NZAS) or Work and Income may be able to assist you with costs.
Other services and information
- Hearing therapy at Your Way | Kia Roha external URL : A service funded by Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People through Your Way | Kia Roha and provided free of charge to people aged 16 years and over. Hearing therapy assists people and their families/whānau manage the impact of hearing loss. No referral is needed and hearing therapists are available in most main centres in New Zealand.
- New Zealand Relay Service external URL : A free, government-funded service that enables people with hearing and speech impairments and Deaf people to use the phone. They offer a variety of services, including text relay (text your message and receive a typed response), caption relay (speak your message and receive a typed response) and a video interpreting service.
- Book an NZSL interpreter at iSign external URL : New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is one of New Zealand’s three official languages. It's a combination of hand shapes, facial expressions and body movements. NZSL contains ideas, sayings and words that aren’t found in other sign languages, including signs for te reo Māori words and ideas. NZSL interpreters ensure Deaf people can access information and support.
- Closed captions for TV programmes: Captions (subtitles for Deaf and hearing-impaired people) are available on many programmes on TV ONE, TV2, TV3, as well as some other channels and streaming services. For TVNZ programmes, the ear logo at the beginning indicates that the programme has captions. Browse TVNZ programmes with closed captions external URL that you can stream online.
- ACC - What they cover external URL : You may be able to get financial support from ACC if you or your child have hearing loss as a result of an accident-related injury. For example, a head, brain or ear injury or being exposed to a noisy workplace over a long period of time.
- Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand external URL : An organisation providing assistance for veterans of the New Zealand Armed Forces who have suffered an injury or disablement as a result of their service. If a veteran has an accepted war pension claim for hearing loss, Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand can provide funding for a number of services.
Blind or low vision
If you're Blind or have low vision, the following services are available:
Ministry services and information
- Blind or reduced vision equipment: If you need equipment to support you to live safely and communicate with others, Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People may be able to assist. Equipment available may include items like mobility canes, screen-reading software or magnifiers.
- Low vision information and resources at the Ministry of Health external URL : Many people at some time in their life will experience a problem with their eyesight. If you start to notice your vision changing, it's important to get an assessment and to be aware of what support is available to you.
- Children’s Spectacle Subsidy (Glasses for children): If your child is 15 years old or under and has vision problems, you may be able to get the children's spectacle subsidy. There are clinical guidelines your child will need to meet to be eligible for funding.
Other services and information
- Blind Low Vision NZ external URL : An organisation offering a wide range of services to people with severe vision loss, including counselling, orientation and mobility services, Telefriend (a peer support service), adaptive daily living services technology, and employment support. Eligibility criteria apply.
- Kāpō Māori Aotearoa (Ngāti Kāpō) external URL : A member-based group supporting kāpō Māori and their whānau to overcome any barriers to accessing Blind Foundation services. They provide support led by Te Ao Māori principles and practices.
- Parents of Vision Impaired NZ (PVI) external URL : A non-profit organisation made up of parents committed to providing support to other parents of children who are blind or vision impaired.
- Blind Citizens NZ external URL : An advocacy organisation supporting blind, low vision and vision impaired people living in New Zealand. They often work with the Government, providers of blind and low-vision specific services, and services in general where blind people have particular requirements that should be considered.
- Albinism NZ external URL : A voluntary non-profile organisation that works closely with ‘Blind Low Vision NZ’, Albinism NZ supports people with Albinism to realise their full potential at all ages and stages of life.
- Retina NZ external URL : A volunteer-led organisation of and for people with retinal conditions. They focus on peer to peer support and advice for people who have a visual impairment and their families.