How many people use NZSL in New Zealand?
24,000 New Zealanders use New Zealand Sign Language (Census 2006)
How many Deaf people are there in New Zealand?
There are about 9,000 culturally Deaf people in New Zealand.
How can I learn NZSL?
There are numerous options available from attending community classes, online resources, books, DVDs and visiting Deaf clubs where you can mix with Deaf people.
What is Sign Language?
Sign language – or NZSL if you like – is the language of the Deaf community. It is a visual language with a grammatical structure different to English. It does include Te Reo Maori concepts too.
What are interpreters?
Interpreters work with both Deaf and hearing people, translating from one language to another. For example they will watch the Deaf person signing, and voice that into spoken English simultaneously. Likewise, the interpreter will listen to someone speaking English, and translate into NZ Sign Language simultaneously. This bridges the communication gap between the two parties.
Deaf, deaf or hearing impaired – whats the difference?
There are two approaches to defining deafness. One based on a cultural/linguistic view and one based on a medical view.
The word Deaf spelt with a capital D is a noun that denotes a culture and a community. The use of sign language as one’s first language is the main characteristic of people who identify with this culture and community.
With a small d, deaf, is an adjective which refers simply to hearing loss - e.g. deaf children means children with impaired hearing who may not yet have had contact with the Deaf community.
The medical view is based on a condition of a lack of hearing in the range of sound common to most people. Words such as profound, severe, moderate hearing loss are used to show how much a person’s hearing differs from the general range.
Terms such as hearing impaired can be used to describe people who have hearing loss but who do not choose to be part of the Deaf community.
Why don't Deaf people just lip read?
Just try to "see", to lip read, the difference between the M, P and B (for example, man, ban, and pan) or F and V (fan / van) and you'll see why 70% of lip reading is guess-work. Many Deaf people have never heard the language they are trying to "read". Think about that. Could you do it?
Some deaf and hearing impaired people are skilled lip readers but this depends on their understanding of the spoken language and their interpretation of body language and the subject being discussed.
If a Deaf person is proficient in sign language, they can understand 100% of the information being transmitted.
What are Deaf and Dumb?
This is an old medical term, which referred to the person’s supposed inability to talk and thus unable to learn. Nowadays this is a extremely offensive term.
Is Sign Language an Alphabet?
Sign language is not an alphabet where you sign each letter of the word you want to communicate. Nor is it mime or gesture as played by professional artists. It has its own structure, grammar and vocabulary just like any other language.
Is there one sign language for all countries?
No. Just like there are hundreds of spoken languages, there are hundreds of sign languages throughout the world. French, German, American, British . . . and New Zealand. There is an international version of sign language with a mixture of signs from mostly American and European sources. This allows a deaf French person to talk to, say, a deaf German.
Does using sign language prevent Deaf people from learning written English?
Quite the reverse. Research shows that Deaf children who learn sign as their primary language early on find it easier to learn written English. They also make greater advances in all forms of education.
How do Deaf people learn NZSL?
For the ten percent of Deaf children who are born to Deaf parents, NZSL is their first language. These children learn to sign from their parents; just as hearing, children learn spoken language from their hearing parents.
However, the majority of Deaf people (90 percent) are born to hearing parents and therefore do not acquire NZSL as their first language. While some hearing parents do teach their Deaf children NZSL, for the majority NZSL is learnt at a Deaf school and by interacting with other Deaf children and adults at Deaf education centres, clubs and other social or sports activities.
Why does the word Deaf have a capital letter?
Deaf culture is quite unique. Deaf people see themselves as a separate cultural group within the overall national culture - just as Maori do, or Indians, or Chinese. So Deaf, when used as a noun, has a capital letter just as English has, or German, or French.
How does Deaf culture develop?