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Learn to sing our anthem in sign language

Apr 21st, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

A DVD teaching the national anthem in sign language will be launched during New Zealand Sign Language Week, running from May 2-8.

It is intended as a teaching tool so schools can request a free copy, or it can be purchased from Deaf Aotearoa for $15.

The awareness week is in its fifth year since NZSL became an official language in 2006 and aims to promote deaf culture, says the Wellington organiser, Shannon Morris (right), through an interpreter.

“It’s like Te Reo Maori Language Week,” she says.

She hopes the week will not only help people who are deaf, but also those who can hear, by giving them a new way to communicate.

Visitors to events will be encouraged to learn a few basic signs, what behaviour is appropriate when dealing with a deaf person, and how to help them.

Awareness of the language has risen since the Christchurch earthquake, with footage of mayor Bob Parker speaking to the media with a signing interpreter, and Ms Morris would like to see that happen more often.

“When emergencies happen, I would really like to see full-time interpreting through that and without interruptions where the TV screen pans away from the interpreter,” she says.

She would also like to see fire safety advertisements translated into sign language.

More than 24,000 kiwis know sign language, according to the 2006 census, and Ms Morris believes this number will rise.

SIGN UP: Victoria University's Mark Berry will teach sign language taster classes in Wellington. IMAGE: Gareth Wallace

Locally, events will include taster classes in sign language, the Markexpo at Pataka Museum in Porirua from 4pm on May 4 – a market and expo show providing services for and items made by the deaf community – and a floortalk with an interpreter present at the Brian Brake photography exhibition at Te Papa, on May 5.

Other events around the country include an art auction at Auckland’s Kelston Deaf Education Centre, and a sign language hip-hop concert by visiting international artist and deaf rapper Signmark in Christchurch.

The fifth Deaf Short Film Festival, which runs every two years in Christchurch, gives deaf filmmakers of any level a chance to make a short film.

Winners will be chosen by an audience and a judging panel.

“It may generate a new and exciting hobby for some people in the deaf community,” says Ms Morris.

“It may also help them to develop new skills for use in the future, so it’s something we can really encourage the community to get involved with.”

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