Celebrate. Communicate. Connect is the theme for New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Week 2015. It is a celebration of one of NZ’s official languages which is used daily by more than 20,000 New Zealanders.
NZSL Week raises awareness about NZ’s Deaf community, and the contribution and colour NZSL brings. It is an opportunity to celebrate the beauty of NZSL and to promote the culture and language of our Deaf community
During 2009 I had the opportunity to learn NZSL in full emersion classes. I underestimated my own abilities, as I believed it would be impossible to learn and accurately communicate with the use of one hand.
To my own delight I passed the full year of classes and assessments with a merit. And better yet, I can communicate accurately using New Zealand Sign Language.
In 2013 I had the fantastic opportunity to travel overseas and I predominantly travelled around Italy. At some point in this brilliant trip I met two Deaf men from Italy. They were on holiday and a little lost. I was so surprised and excited to be able to communicate with them enough to assist them and find directions to where they wanted to go.
The added difficulty was they were likely signing in Italian Sign Language. I think of it just like there are many different accents, dialects and turns of phrase in spoken language, there are also many different sign languages all around the world.
I encourage you to give it a go. It’s fun.