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Meet The Kiwi-Indian Making A Mark In NZ Deaf Community

Rekha Rosario | Photo: Supplied

A Kiwi-Indian woman is transforming the landscape of communications with the Deaf community in New Zealand, using her expertise in sign language to connect with individuals who have unique communication needs.

Rekha Rosario, the only qualified New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) interpreter from India and member of the Sign Language Interpreters Association of New Zealand (SLIANZ), has been recognised as the NZSL Interpreter of the Year 2024. This prestigious award acknowledges her unwavering commitment and strong connections within the local Deaf community.

"I feel humbled and grateful to the Deaf community I have served for the past 18 years and continue to serve," Rekha told The Indian Weekender. 

"I accept this award as recognition of what the profession can do to enhance the accessibility needs of the Deaf community."

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Rekha Rosario has been recognised as the NZSL Interpreter of the Year 2024

Originally from Kerala, Rekha graduated from Mumbai University with a Bachelor of Commerce before relocating to Auckland with her husband and young daughter in 2002.

Driven by a desire to provide education, employment, and healthcare access to the Deaf community, the mother of two has dedicated herself to bridging communication gaps through sign language. 

"Back in India, I had a deaf family member who struggled to access education, services, employment, and healthcare due to his unique communication needs," she shared.

Rekha's role as a NZSL interpreter involves facilitating communication between NZSL and English. She operates her business, Rekha NZSL Interpreting Services, and collaborates with various agencies to meet the communication needs of the Deaf community.

In 2003, Rekha began her studies at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in New Zealand Sign Language before graduating from the interpreting course in 2006. AUT is the sole institution in New Zealand offering a NZSL degree programme.

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The NZSL interpreting profession has evolved significantly, gaining official status in 2006 under the New Zealand Sign Language Act. Rekha believes that effective communication is key.

"In this profession, I have found my vocation, my calling. I strongly believe in the statement that there is 'no communication without comprehension.'"

Rekha hopes that her recognition will raise awareness within the Indian community about the profession of NZSL interpreters, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps.

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