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NZSL for Water Safety

New Zealand Sign Language is one of three official language and is gaining popularity in community. It's vital for leaders of water safety to have a basic knowledge of NZSL and understanding of Deaf culture. 

We are pleased to announce the development of a new NZSL for Water Safety in Aotearoa.  Through a partnership between Global Swim and Merge NZ, this workshop is currently being launched as a pilot program in the Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty area. 

Accessibility for the Deaf Community:

We recognise the importance of accessibility for all individuals, including those who are Deaf or hard of hearing. That's why we've developed beginner-friendly water safety vocabulary and phrases specifically designed to assist aquatic rescue team members and leaders of water-related activities in communicating effectively with the Deaf community.

Beginner-Friendly Water Safety Vocabulary:

  • Water Safety Basics: Communicate essential knowledge to prevent accidents and promote safe behavior in and around water.

  • Emergency Signs: Signs and signals to communicate and understand common water-related emergencies, such as "Help!" or "Danger!"

  • Rescue Techniques: Simple instructions and signs for basic rescue techniques, ensuring swift and effective response in emergencies.

  • Safety Equipment: Vocabulary related to essential safety equipment, such as life jackets, rescue buoys, and first aid kits.

Why Accessibility Matters:

Accessible communication is crucial in water safety to ensure that vital information reaches everyone, regardless of their hearing ability. By incorporating beginner-friendly vocabulary and phrases, aquatic rescue teams and activity leaders can bridge communication gaps, increase understanding of Deaf culture, and empower members of the Deaf community to participate fully in water-related activities while feeling safe and confident.

This unique approach not only fosters inclusivity but also accelerates your learning of NZSL. By immersing yourself in a visual language environment, you'll naturally adapt to the nuances and intricacies of NZSL more quickly. 

About the Pilot course:

The NZSL for Water Safety online course will run for 3 weeks during the evening classes of approximately 1 hour each. This pilot course will be delivered to participants from Tauranga, Bay of Plenty in May/June.  Courses will be conducted without voice, as the NZSL teacher is Deaf.

As from 1st August, Merge NZ will open this course to the public to register. Thank you for your understanding and co-operation.

As for now, you can put down your name to register, and you will be contacted later in July to register our NZSL for Water Safety course.

Forms, documents and downloads:

NZSL for Water Safety course

Course outline covering water-related safety topics, which you will be learning about.

Cancellation Policy

Check out our NZSL crash online course

cancelation policy here.

NZSL for Water Safety poster

Coming soon


The partnership between Global Swim and Merge NZ marks an exciting collaboration aimed at fostering inclusivity within water-related activities.


Global Swim's support of Merge NZ has enabled the development of a specialised three-week NZSL crash course tailored for water-related activity leaders. This initiative not only demonstrates a commitment to accessibility but also empowers leaders to communicate effectively with individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing.


By equipping activity leaders with essential NZSL skills, the program facilitates seamless interaction and enhances safety during aquatic experiences. Together, Global Swim and Merge NZ are breaking barriers and creating more inclusive environments where everyone can participate and thrive.

Global Swim's support and funding for the Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty Pilot has been made possible through funding from TECT and Tauranga City Council.  

Additionally, a special thanks to Janine Campbell for creating resources and Greg Lessing, Deaflympics champion for participation in the video.

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