The programme Certificate in Deaf Studies: Teaching NZSL (CDS) was established by David McKee and Rachel McKee in 1997 to enable Deaf people to study their own language and learn how to teach it. NZSL teacher training has made NZSL tuition more available and consistent in the community, and contributed to Deaf community capacity for advocacy and leadership.
The CDS programme is one of the only university level qualifications for deaf people to teach New Zealand Sign Language. The CDS programme is delivered in intensive modules to enable participants from around NZ to attend part-time. Teaching is designed for Deaf learners, drawing on their life experience and teaching and assessment is conducted in NZSL. This lowers the barriers that have excluded many Deaf people from university study.
Between 1997 and 2014, 12 groups have gone through the CDS programme. A total of 143 individuals have enrolled in the courses, and 78 have completed the qualification. Graduates have gone into the adult education sector, professional and paraprofessional roles in deaf education, Deaf community development, and some have continued to further tertiary study.