New Zealand Sign Language celebrates 10th anniversaryDisability Issues
Disability Issues Minister Nicky Wagner says New Zealand can be proud of its achievements in supporting the Deaf community as it prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the adoption of New Zealand Sign Language as an official language.
New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) has been an officially recognised language of New Zealand since the passing of the NZSL Act on 6 April 2006.
“NZSL is central to Deaf culture and identity, and is crucial to Deaf people’s ability to communicate and fully participate in society,” Ms Wagner says.
“Giving NZSL official language status sent an important message that we as a country are committed to promoting the full involvement of Deaf people in national life. However, official language status was just the start.
“The Government is investing $1.25 million per year in the New Zealand Sign Language Fund which supports community-led initiatives that creates a stronger NZSL community in New Zealand.
“The first round of NZSL Fund grants provided support to 14 projects including increasing NZSL documentation, enabling more children and families to learn NZSL in the home and increasing access to arts and culture. The second round of NZSL Fund recipients will be announced in the next month.
“This support is in addition to the establishment of the NZSL Board following the work of an Experts Advisory Group, supported by the Office for Disability Issues.
“The anniversary also comes at an opportune time as the Government has recently released a major initiative in further promoting NZSL – the NZSL Board Action Plan.
“The three year action plan outlines the NZSL Board’s priorities for the promotion and maintenance of NZSL and provides tools to enhance the vitality of the language.
“Achieving official language status in 2006 was a watershed moment for the Deaf community. We are continuing to build on that achievement,” Ms Wagner says.
Approximately 11,000 people use NZSL as their primary form of communication, with 20,000 people in total using NZSL.