NZ Sign Language goes digital
NZ´s third official language has become more accessible with the launch of an online multimedia dictionary of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).
Victoria University’s deaf studies research unit, which produced the first dictionary of NZSL in 1997, has created an online dictionary with about 4000 NZSL signs, accompanied by line drawings and video clips to show how to produce each sign and how the signs are used in context.
The dictionary was launched at Victoria University and is a resource for deaf people, their families, professionals, learners and teachers of NZSL. It will be available as a reference tool to a wide range of people in NZ and overseas.
Dr David McKee, director of the deaf studies research unit at Victoria, says it is a unique national resource, which enables public access to NZ´s third official language.
“The development of an online, bilingual dictionary raises the public profile and accessibility of NZSL for all New Zealanders,” he says.
The website was launched by the Governor General, Sir Anand Satyanand.
Deputy vice-chancellor Professor Penny Boumelha says the online dictionary continues a tradition of Victoria leading the way in championing NZSL.
“Since the mid 1980s, Victoria University has led research and documentation of NZSL.
This work has made a significant contribution to achieving recognition of NZSL as an official language in 2006, and to improving societal understanding of the NZSL community.
“As we have seen in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes, sign language has provided crucial assistance to New Zealand’s deaf community during press conferences.
Access to information becomes a precious commodity in times of civil emergency, making this new website an invaluable resource.”
The dictionary can be accessed via http//nzsl.vuw.ac.nz.
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