Victoria launches innovative New Zealand Sign Language resource

Victoria University of Wellington continues its leading role in the documentation, research and resource development of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) with the launch of an innovative learning resource by its Deaf Studies Research Unit (DSRU).

Called Learn NZSL, the free online resource will be available from 6 April 2017—the eleventh anniversary of NZSL becoming an official language of New Zealand.

Learn NZSL project manager and School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies lecturer Sara Pivac Alexander says the e-learning resource is the first of its kind to provide a large-scale, free, interactive and sequential learning experience for NZSL.

“It’s a new way for New Zealanders to learn how to better communicate with members of the Deaf community,” Ms Alexander says.

“Since NZSL became an official language in 2006, demand for sign language learning has increased. However, there is a small pool of NZSL teachers nationwide and the number of classes are limited, which means NZSL learning opportunities have not been easily accessible. Learn NZSL aims to change that, allowing New Zealanders to learn from anywhere 24/7.

“Approximately 95 percent of Deaf children are born to hearing parents. It can be difficult for hearing parents to access local NZSL classes, so this resource will help them increase their understanding and ability to communicate with their child and the Deaf community.”

The course will cover everyday vocabulary, phrases and conversations and is split into nine topics, supported by interactive tasks and 660 videos. Award-winning local eLearning company, Kineo Asia Pacific, has worked in partnership with the DSRU to develop the learning resources.

Other leading NZSL resources from Victoria include a state-of-the-art online NZSL dictionarythat was published in 2011.

Learn NZSL has been funded by the NZSL Board, a Ministry of Social Development advisory group, which granted the project $230,000, and a donation from the TAB Book Project Committee.

The site will be launched 6pm Thursday 6 April.