Commission announces formal public inquiry into New Zealand Sign Language

The Human Rights Commission has chosen New Zealand Sign Language Week, 30 April-6 May 2012, as the occasion to announce that it will begin a formal public inquiry into the use of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) and how it can be strengthened.

“New Zealand Sign Language Week is a call to action for New Zealanders to get involved, learn basic NZSL and come to understand the importance of NZSL to the Deaf community,” says Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson. “There can be no better time to announce an important new project by the Human Rights Commission. From July, a Commission team will begin work on an official public inquiry into the use of NZSL and how our third official language can be strengthened.”

He said Deaf New Zealanders faced barriers to full participation in society every day. Increased use and better acceptance of NZSL as an official language would help to reduce the many issues of discrimination that came to the Commission’s notice each year.

New Zealand’s third official language – New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) – is celebrated throughout the country this week.

Manahau, the Commission’s disability rights e-newsletter, has been translated into NZSL this month and is available online. The Commission is currently working on ways that complaints of unlawful discrimination can be received in NZSL using Seeflow, a NZSL translation service.

NZSL is not only an intrinsic part of the Deaf community, it can also give a voice to people with speech impairments. It is also becoming more visible in the media, with particular prominence during coverage of the Canterbury earthquakes.

NZSL Week is a time to connect, celebrate and learn. Find out more about how you can join in the events around the country.


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