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Inclusion of Sign Language in Curriculum Welcomed

Human Rights Commission
Media Release
15 March 2007

Commission Welcomes Inclusion of Sign Language in Curriculum

The Human Rights Commission today congratulated the government on the introduction of sign language into the school curriculum, making New Zealand one of the first countries to do so.

This follows from it being made an official language under the New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Act 2006 and means sign language will now be offered as a choice for all students – Deaf and hearing.

The Commission identified support for the use of NZSL and the employment of teachers to teach NZSL as a priority in the New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights. This recognised the fact that the ability to communicate is essential to ensuring equal participation for Deaf people in all areas of life.

Chief Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan said today that inclusion in the curriculum will increase access to sign language which is a positive step in the process of making it mainstream.

“The Commission looks forward to the day when a Deaf child can go into a dairy and purchase an ice cream in sign language and have conversations with their Deaf and hearing friends in sign at school. That’s the kind of inclusive society we’d like to see.”

“New Zealand Sign Language in the New Zealand Curriculum” was launched today by Hon Steve Maharey.

The curriculum guidelines were developed through extensive consultation and collaboration with the Deaf community, parents, and NZSL users, as well as with leading national and international educators and teachers in the field. Over a four-year period, the draft guidelines were prepared, trialled in schools, circulated to other interested groups for comment, and refined into the final document.

The NZSL curriculum provides the basis for NZSL programmes in early childhood settings and in primary and secondary schools, and it gives students the opportunity to learn NZSL from the earliest practicable age.

ENDS

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