What do we do? » Awards and Grants » Communication Access Award


We aspire to a society in Aotearoa New Zealand, where everyone understands what communication accessibility is.  Talking about it, celebrating it, and letting people know when they are getting it right will bring our vision to life!

Communication is the most fundamental of human capacities and a basic human right.  People need to be able to communicate to fulfil their social, educational, emotional, and vocational potential.  

Communication access is about creating communication ramps to ensure people can participate fully in their whānau, communities, workplaces, and schools and be fully involved in decisions affecting all aspects of their lives.

Congratulations to the 2022 award recipients:

Judge John Walker - for: 

  • Advocating strongly for all to be able to participate effectively in justice processes. 
  • Raising awareness of neurodisability and neurodiversity in his role as Principal Youth Court Judge and has introduced innovations such as the Young Adult List Court which is bringing about much-needed changes that will impact the lives of many.

Kristina Pinto - for: 

  • Working to ensure all tamariki in the Tairāwhiti region have access to communication in a range of settings.
  • Surveying whānau with children with disabilities and communication needs across the whole rohe to enquire about usefulness of core boards in the community.
  • Spending hours making the core board, getting it translated into te reo that's appropriate for the Tairāwhiti dialect and installing a QR code so that the online core board can be portable and accessible for whānau. 
  • Working tirelessly through a 2 year process due to your dedication to equitable communication. Currently there are three parks where these bilingual core boards are installed with approval and funding for 14 more across the rohe.

Papanui Primary School - for: 

  • Demonstrating an exemplary attitude towards inclusion of children with additional complex communication needs through a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach.
  • Participating in school-wide training on AAC and use this widely in their school - utilising wearable core boards, having core boards available in every area of the school (including the reception and outdoor areas), continuing to seek further professional development in this area, and providing support for other schools by welcoming visitors to their space.

Saoirse O'Connor - for: 

  • Establishing what form of communication each client could use and have enabled many of these clients to access augmentative communication technology, eye gaze technology etc. 
  • Implementing use of yes/no lanyards across the service. This work has enabled some of our residential clients to have a voice for the first time. An example of this was; one of our profoundly disabled clients (LV) was able to communicate with our facility reverend using eye gaze to communicate.
  • Giving all of our clients a voice, through all levels of communication technology and meaningful activities which are enabling our clients to engage in social interactions, social enrichment and social communication with others. 

Sarah Dann-Hoare - Project Employ/Flourish Cafe - for: 

  • Working with people with disabilities to support them to find employment. Supporting students with opportunities to use high tech augmentative and alternative communication systems to order food from their cafe: Flourish Cafe.
  • Using patient and responsive communication partner style when supporting individuals with disabilities to build their cafe skills. 
  • Advocating for people with disabilities and are patient and willing to embrace and encourage AAC in the community.

Here is how to enter

Review the criteria that nominations that the judges will use to assess.  Who do you know - business, organisation or individual who demonstrates these well?

Attitudeacknowledge competence and all aspects of communication and be willing to help and give time.

Awareness and knowledge - recognition of and knowledge about communication and communication disability.

Competency in using accessible strategies such as:

  • use active listening skills, give time to respond, and use communication tools.
  • use the best approaches to communication with all individuals.
  • support individuals to be involved in decisions.
  • support individuals to communicate successfully.

Information - people receive information in a way they can access and understand, e.g., easy-read formatting, large print, audio, use of images etc.

Environment factors -

  • organisations provide clear signage
  • opportunities are provided for face-to-face communication.
  • communication tools are available or utilised.
  • noise levels and lighting are considered.

In collaboration with the Minister of Disability Issues, NZSTA recognises individuals, businesses and organisations who have demonstrated the principles of communication accessibility.

Nominations for the annual Communication Access Awards will be sought during our annual awareness week (usually in September) and close on 31 October. 

Submit nomination

Award Recipient of Previous Years

Kitty Zeng
Liz Ballantine, Clinics Receptionist, University of Auckland 
Papanui Primary School – Lisa Thompson (SENCO)
Sarah Goodfellow
Ruth Blair 
Sarah Price, occupational therapist at CCS Disability Action, Canterbury
Seiola Tapa 
Robyn Thomas & Heather Orman, St Andrew’s College, Christchurch
Wellington Airport

Jennie McCormick
Northland Indian Association (Ralph Correa, Board Chair) 
Whakatohea Iwi Trust Board 
Dementia Canterbury, Manager Darral Campbell 
Paula Tesoriero, Disabilty Rights Commissioner 

Aimee Taylor 
Andrew Stubbs, Vanessa Hendry, Ness Ahkiong, Steve Nippert, & Wendy Wimsett
Coffee Culture in Lincoln
Dr Ciandra Keenan
Dr Meera Raithatha 
Hannah Barnes
HOYTS Cinemas
Hutt Hospital Café
Jocelyn Faalavelave
Mike Dyer
NZ Police
Pataka Art & Museum
Pukeahu National War Memorial Park (Dr. Emma Kelly, Paul Riley, Tim Hurd) 
Sian Van Dyk 
Station One Cafe
Teacher Aides at Dargaville Primary School
Youth Horizons Trust
Zampelles Cafe – Queensgate Mall