What do we do? » Awards and Grants » Community-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.

This award is presented by the NZSTA and the Minister of Disability Issues to individuals and organisations.

Selection criteria

The nominee is an individual or a group/organisation demonstrating communication access principles.

  • Awareness: Recognition and knowledge about communication and communication disability.
  • Attitude: Acknowledging competence and all aspects of communication. A willingness to help and give time.
  • Competency: Uses active listening skills, gives time to respond, and uses communication tools. Uses the best approaches to communication with all individuals. Supports individuals to be involved in decisions. Supports individuals to communicate successfully.
  • Information: People receive information in a way they can access and understand, e.g. easy-read formatting.
  • Environment: Organisations provide clear signage.  Opportunities are provided for face-to-face communication. Communication tools are available or utilised. Noise levels and lighting are considered.

Nominations for the Communication Accessibility Award will be called for annually in September and close on 31 October.


Congratulations to the 2023 award recipients:

Judge Hana Ellis - for: 

  • Being a communication leader in the courtroom, actively observing interactions and behaviours to spot any communication issues. Asking simple questions to understand where people might struggle, ensuring everyone comprehends the process and content by using plain language. Having a talent for making complex information accessible shine in your spoken words and written communications, like memoranda and judges' decisions.
  • Embracing feedback on your great communication skills and generously shared your approach with fellow judges and court associates.

Emporio Coffee - for: 

  • Being consistently friendly and supportive of the use of AAC and other alternative forms of communication. 
  • You don’t rush people and let them communicate in a way that worked for them without judgement.

Dani Tyler - for: 

  • As an Autistic individual with experience as a teacher aide and support worker, your dedication lies in ensuring students access AAC and advocating for AAC implementation in schools. With extensive knowledge of speech apps, engaging in online discussions to assist parents of non-speaking Autistic individuals.
  • Recently experiencing catatonia in the context of Autism, you've started using AAC yourself. When invited to speak on AAC and mental health at a dual disability mental health event, delivering your first speech through a video. Your advocacy revolves around championing AAC users' literacy rights and proper AAC instruction in schools. 

Julie Wylie and Ngaio Marsh Rest Home - for: 

  • Running a music group every Friday at Ngaio Marsh Rest home where children between ages 1-3 participate in a music group with the residents. It is such a wonderful opportunity to encourage connection between tamariki and kaumatua that otherwise wouldn't be available. Both groups have limited language but are able to connect through music, body language, facial expression, gesture, and vocalizations. 
  • Recognising that communication and connection are not solely achieved through spoken words.


Award Recipient of Previous Years

Judge John Walker 
Kristina Pinto 
Papanui Primary School 
Saoirse O'Connor 
Sarah Dann-Hoare - Project Employ/Flourish Cafe 

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