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A voice for the deaf community

Media Release
For Immediate Release

07 April 2006

A voice for the deaf community

Community and voluntary sector groups have congratulated the deaf community on yesterday’s recognition of sign language as an official New Zealand language.

With the passing of legislation today, New Zealand Sign Language has been recognised as the nation’s third official language, alongside English and Maori.

“This is a major achievement for the deaf community, as they have been striving to have sign language officially recognised for 20 years. The legislation is a long overdue acknowledgement of the importance of this language within our community”, says Andrea Goble, General Manager of the Funding Information Service, who is herself hearing impaired.

There are approximately 28,000 people who use sign language as their primary means of communication. The implementation of the New Zealand Sign Language Bill will allow sign language to be used in legal proceedings.

“This is a real step forward for New Zealand. It’s great to see community and voluntary sector needs being recognised and implemented in the legislative regime,” says Joce Swagerman, National Fundraiser of the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand.

Representatives from the Funding Information Service, the New Zealand Federation of Voluntary Welfare Organisations, Prison Fellowship New Zealand, the Stroke Foundation and Volunteering New Zealand all lend their support to the new legislation.

ENDS

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