May 09, 2016
Deaf culture sign of the times
It’s sign language week, and that means a chance for people to get a taste of what’s New Zealand’s third official language.
Deaf Aotearoa chief executive Lachlan Keating says Maori make up a disproportionate number of people without hearing, and New Zealand Sign is incorporating an increasing number of common Maori words.
He says the deaf are fighting the stigma of disability, even though they don’t see themselves as being disabled.
"They have a language, they have a culture in and of itself. Gradually through initiatives like Sign Language Week we are seeing society change its view of everybody and really embracing of all cultures and all languages and society is gradually becoming stronger for that." Mr Keating says.
There will be 800 45-minute taster classes at schools and other venues around the country this week, compared with just 40 when sign language week started a decade ago.
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