Together we can make New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) thrive
There is no need to wait until you need to use New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) to learn it. Make it normal, make it part of your daily language use, and make it fun to learn.
That’s the message NZTC lecturer Shu-Yen Law hopes to share with the college’s staff, students and communities in support of NZSL week and this year’s theme, together we can make NZSL thrive.
In the early childhood setting, Law says building awareness of and incorporating NZSL nurtures inclusiveness amongst tamariki and the wider community, helps to remove barriers and provides another beneficial tool for communication.
“For tamariki, kaiako, or whānau who are deaf or have hearing impairments, it is crucial for their sense of belonging to know that their language is promoted and used for communication that supports their needs.
“Sign language also acts as an effective communication tool for those who are yet to develop verbal language skills, such as infants. Not to mention that by signing, tamariki get to refine their dexterity and fine motor skills.”
Signing commonly used words in the ECE setting, integrating sign language into songs and incorporating visual cues around the centre, are all simple ways for kaiako to get on board with NZSL, shares Law.
“For instance, kaiako can sign words like sleep, food, milk, and toilet as they communicate with children during caregiving routines. With music, the ‘Old McDonald’ or the ‘Mā is White’ song introduces tamariki to a range of signs for animals and colours.”
For those in the healthcare sector, Maxine Farquhar (Health and Wellbeing Program Lead), says engaging with NZSL supports collaborative and inclusive healthcare.
“For effective, safe and appropriate care to be provided, an individual must have the capacity to clearly communicate their health concerns, needs and requirements to healthcare professionals, and NZSL enables this to be achieved.
“Incorporating NZSL into the health and wellbeing setting enables information to be shared effectively, and this in turn promotes the development of collaborative and inclusive healthcare. Including this communicative approach can potentially reduce health inequalities as perceived barriers to communication can be minimised.”
Links and online tools to support a NZSL learning journey include: