Jo Smith was a liaison between the TVNZ producers and the NZAD Council (Now the Deaf Aotearoa Board). Several people wanted a Total Communication interpreter to be used alongside the newsreader because many Deaf people could not understand the captions on the programme, but this did not happen.
The News Review crew made a pilot programme using two Deaf presenters alongside the hearing presenters in 1982 with Ava Agnew and Paul Buzzard. Kay Drew, a teacher of the deaf, interpreted, and taught the cricketer Sir Richard Hadlee how to sign his name! Peter Downie and Royce Flynn were interviewed on how they became basketball referees. But TVNZ bosses did not like it and the pilot did not screen. (SignDNA is investigating in case a copy still exists).
Initially there was little interest in News Review, not only because it aired news that was several days old, but also Deaf viewers felt that the captions were too hard to follow. At first, the programme was fully captioned verbatim (every spoken word was captioned), however later captioning was changed to used more plain English words to make it easier for Deaf people with low English literacy skills to read. With the communication modes of the Deaf community so varied, it seemed difficult to please everyone, however adding signing to the screen in addition to captions became a viable solution. The NZAD asked for two people on screen, one speaking English and one signing, and this request was finally granted in 1987, and two Deaf presenters joined the programme.