#27 Be. Deaf-friendly with NZSL

The Be. team at the NZSL taster class during NZSL Week 2012This week is New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Week and yesterday we did a taster NZSL class with the wonderful James, from Deaf Aotearoa.

It was surprisingly easy to pick up lots of new words – we can now all say “Hello, how are you? What’s your name? Nice to meet you. Would you like a coffee? Your sign language interpreter will be here soon.” So handy! We have been practising around the office all day!

There is so much to learn about NZSL, our third official language of New Zealand. Here are a few quick facts to get you started (thanks to Deaf Aotearoa):

  1. More than 24,000 New Zealanders use NZSL daily.
  2. Sign language is a combination of hand shapes, facial expressions and body movements.
  3. New Zealand Sign Language is unique to New Zealand and became one of our official languages in 2006.
  4. Approximately only 40% of Deaf people can read handwritten notes.
  5. Only 30% of speech sounds can be identified by lip reading.

For more interesting facts about NZSL, head over to Deaf Aotearoa’s website here!

There are so many great resources available for people to learn NZSL easily. Here are a few options, but you could also check out your local community centres for evening or weekend courses as well.

  1. Victoria University of Wellington have developed this online dictionary for NZSL - where you can search words and find the NZSL translation.
  2. Te Kete Ipurangi and the Ministry of Education have some great learning tools here that you can work through at home, work or in the classroom to learn NZSL.
  3. Deaf Aotearoa offers the Think.Deaf.Discover and Think.Sign.Connect which provide training to businesses and organisations about Deaf culture, the Deaf community, and an insight into New Zealand Sign Language. Click here to find out more.

So go on! Be. the Change and learn some NZSL - you never know when it might come in handy!