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NZ Sign Language Week 2014: Celebrate – Communicate -Connect

Hon Tariana Turia
Minister for Disability Issues

12 May 2014

New Zealand Sign Language Week 2014: Celebrate – Communicate -Connect

“Celebrate – Communicate - Connect is the theme of this year’s New Zealand Sign Language week and I encourage all of us to celebrate this unique way of communicating and connecting with the Deaf community,” says Minister for Disability Issues, Tariana Turia.

“Sign language is a vital means of communication and is a core part of Deaf people’s identity and culture. But a vibrant, living language is dependent upon a community using the language in everyday life and situations. Therefore I encourage every New Zealander to learn and use New Zealand Sign Language. It is part of what makes New Zealand a unique, diverse, great place to live.”

“New Zealand Sign Language along with te reo Maori and English is one of New Zealand’s official languages. I congratulate the leadership shown in the community to actively connect and engage with people of all walks of life to learn and use New Zealand Sign language. This year there is a new initiative called Signathon, an exciting and interactive activity where children are sponsored to learn New Zealand Sign Language fingerspelling and signs.”

“Learning any language can be challenging, but it should also be fun, particularly if you learn with others as a group and make it a team occasion. The Government has also been taking action to promote New Zealand in partnership with the Deaf community. Officials in the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social Development and Office for Disability Issues are supporting staff to learn New Zealand Sign Language. Not only will this be valuable for them, but it will also help create a friendlier work environment for Deaf staff and create a better insight into the value of New Zealand Sign Language.”

“I congratulate the Speaker, Rt Hon David Carter, for ensuring that Parliament is actively participating with New Zealand Sign Language week. On Tuesday 13 May and Wednesday 14 May, an interpretation of Question Time will be provided in New Zealand Sign Language. Viewers of Parliament TV will be able to see the interpretation as an inset in the corner of the screen and anyone visiting the Debating Chamber will be able to view the New Zealand Sign Language interpreters on screens in the Chamber. Tours of Parliament with a New Zealand Sign Language interpreter will also be available throughout May giving users of New Zealand Sign Language the opportunity to discover our buildings, see what happens when the House sits and learn about New Zealand’s democratic processes.”

“The Ministry of Social Development’s Think Differently campaign, which supports national and community projects to promote positive attitudes and behaviours towards disabled people, has provided funding for New Zealand Sign Language for the last three years. I am pleased that Think Differently has again contributed funding for 2014.”

“Over the last year, the Ministry of Education has been working with the Deaf community on how to improve New Zealand Sign Language in education. As well, the Ministry of Social Development has been working with an Experts Advisory Group to develop options for the promotion and maintenance of New Zealand Sign Language in the longer term.”

“Congratulations to Deaf Aotearoa and all those involved with New Zealand Sign Language week,” says Mrs Turia.

Find out what is happening during New Zealand Sign Language week:
• On 16 May, Minister Turia launches in Christchurch a children’s ebook,Hairy Maclary, in New Zealand Sign Language.
• Free 45 minute New Zealand Sign Language Taster Classes during May
• “Learn 7 Signs in 7 Days”
• Signathon
• New Zealand Sign Language In Action Awards
• Resources with promotional messages and information about New Zealand Sign Language

More information available online at: http://www.deaf.org.nz/nzslw

ENDS

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