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Local advocate calls for greater engagement with language

Local advocate calls for greater engagement with language
SPEAK WITHOUT WORDS: New Zealand Sign Language is an official language of the country, alongside English and Maori. However, in these Covid-19 times and with regulations around mask-wearing, the country’s deaf and hard of hearing community, and those associated closely with them, are experiencing even more issues than the normal challenges. Gisborne Care and Craft Centre is calling on more people to learn NZSL and become more sensitive to and considerate and accepting of those who have to deal with something most take for granted. Showing a hand heart are (from left) Craft Centre supervisor Dot McCulloch, and Penny McNamara and Betty Fox, both of who communicate through NZSL, lip and facial reading. Picture by Liam Clayton

Not enough people in Tairāwhiti understand or are familiar with New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), a community support worker says.

NZSL is one of the official languages of this country.

It is used by deaf people and those linked with them, such as people who have deaf relatives or interpreters who work with deaf people.

“We need more people learning it and becoming aware of our community here in Gisborne so they can help our deaf and hard-of-hearing whānau, because more and more people are getting hearing problems,” Gisborne Care and Craft Centre supervisor Dot McCulloch said.

“I myself will be needing hearing aids.”

Ms McCulloch has been working for the Gisborne Care and Craft Centre for 33 years.

The centre provides a range of interests and companionship for adults with disabilities, or lonely house-bound people. It runs on volunteers and the support of local communities.

Some people who take part in centre activities are deaf and hard of hearing, and many rely completely on NZSL.

“Some of the girls have been here for a significant time so we have developed a trusting relationship to understand one another and make communication happen with the little sign language I know,” Ms McCulloch said. […]

Click here to read more at the original web page at www.gisborneherald.co.nz

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