Mon. Sep 26th, 2022


Sejin Bae signs “Auckland”.

Sejin Bae is a barista and communicates in New Zealand Sign Language.

OPINION: More than 24,000 New Zealanders use New Zealand Sign Language every day. Here’s why you should learn it too.

New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is the language of the New Zealand Deaf community.

Since 2006, NZSL has been one of New Zealand’s official languages.

* New Ministry for Disabled People first ministry to have a name in three languages
* Overcoming barriers: Mum of three deaf kids embarks on new role as a teacher of deaf students
* Learning sign language encouraged Taranaki woman to learn her mother tongue

Signs are formed by a combination of hands, facial expressions, lip patterns and body language.

For example, the sign for “Auckland” looks like Sky Tower, with one arm standing up with the hand in the shape of a number one.

My favourite signs are: “Thank you”, “Fantastic” and “How are you?”.

There are many benefits to using NZSL, even if you are not Deaf or hard-of-hearing.

You can “talk” conveniently in sign language with your mouth full or “talk” through windows of a building from a distance.

You can also “talk” in loud nightclubs or “whisper” in a church or a library.

You can have a conversation in NZSL if you are scuba diving underwater.

You can also have a private talk in public – as long as no other signers are watching!

For me personally as a barista, it’s really beneficial when others know the basics of NZSL because they can introduce themselves and order a coffee.

Learning NZSL causes you to literally open your eyes and rely on different senses to communicate. It exercises your peripheral vision and trains you to become more aware of your environment.

Deaf people are notoriously sharp-eyed, and by learning NZSL, you can be too!

Deaf Aotearoa

Learning NZSL causes you to literally open your eyes and rely on different senses …….


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