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DVD in Sign Language to Help Deaf Cope With Grief

DVD in Sign Language to Help Deaf Cope With Grief

A new DVD in New Zealand Sign Language will help Deaf people in New Zealand learn ways to cope with grief and loss in their natural language.

The resource, “Change, Loss and Grief” was launched today (Wednesday, 12 October) as part of Mental Health Awareness Week (10 - 16 October) celebrations.

The resource is the result of work supported by Deaf Aotearoa and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. This is the first time the two organisations have worked together to produce a DVD in sign language and Deaf Aotearoa hopes to develop similar resources in the future.

“We are extremely pleased to have been able to assist Deaf Aotearoa with the promotion and distribution of this much needed resource” says Judi Clements, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation.

Deaf Aotearoa Chief Executive Rachel Noble says the need for the DVD was driven by individuals close to the Deaf community members in Christchurch.

“This project has been a voluntary one, which has had the support and buy-in from a number of different organisations and individuals. There was a great need for a resource of this kind after a series of tragic events and it is even more pertinent now following the devastating effects of February’s earthquake in Christchurch and the resulting loss of life,” says Ms Noble.

“The DVD is designed to help the Deaf community understand in their natural language the processes of grief and how if can affect people.”

“Change, Loss and Grief” is filmed in NZSL with English subtitles. It features members of the Deaf community sharing their experiences of loss and change. Expert advice is provided by retired Deaf Counsellor Richard Townshend and Mental Health Educator Ainslee Coates.

The DVD was created by Creative Arts Director Jill Penn and film-makers Meshell Edgecombe and Sue Penman. To find out how to get a copy of the DVD please visit

Deaf Aotearoa is the national association of the Deaf in New Zealand. The organisation promotes the awareness of, access to and advancement of NZSL – to help strengthen the rights of Deaf people and their confidence and ensure they are an active part of society.

Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand

Deaf Aotearoa New Zealand (formerly Deaf Association of NZ Inc.), works with government and other organisations to provide information and resources on life for Deaf New Zealanders, Deaf culture and New Zealand Sign Language. Deaf Aotearoa also represents New Zealand Deaf internationally through the World Federation of the Deaf.

New Zealand Sign Language is a unique and valid means of expression and communication; more than 24,000 New Zealanders use NZSL either fully or partially in their day-to-day lives. The 2006 Census showed that New Zealand Sign Language is the 12th most frequently used language out of approximately 190 languages currently used in New Zealand (Census 2006). NZSL is the natural language of New Zealand’s Deaf community, as it reflects the culture of the country and includes signs for Maori terminology and concepts, which are not found anywhere else in the world.

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand

The Mental Health Foundation was established in 1977 from the proceeds of the first telethon. The Foundation is a charitable trust, with a governing board of experts who collectively guide our direction.

The Foundation’s mission is to make mental health everybody’s business; its vision is to create a society where all people flourish. Why flourishing? Because flourishing is about focusing on the good things in life, it’s about the things we aspire to, both as individuals and as members of a wider community.


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