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Call to showcase sign language at RWC

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Minister for Disability Issues Tariana Turia says New Zealand is leading the way in promoting sign language and commended the fact that sign singers performed the national anthem at the opening of the Rugby World Cup opening.

"Sunday marks the beginning of Deaf Awareness week and it was a major milestone to have New Zealand's three official languages performed for the first time at the opening ceremony," said Mrs Turia.

"I was disappointed that the media coverage didn't focus on the sign interpreters. Around 24,000 New Zealanders are able to use New Zealand Sign Language and around 4,000 are Deaf people who rely on New Zealand Sign Language to communicate. I'd like to think with Deaf Awareness week, we might see a change.

"In 2006 New Zealand Sign Language became one of New Zealand's official languages.

"It's estimated that there are more than 450,000 people in New Zealand with hearing impairment. Of these, 35,000 have severe or profound hearing loss and 7,000 of these have been deaf from birth.

"It's important we continue to promote and support New Zealand Sign Language. We want to see people signing in a whole lot of different spaces in an attempt to engage those who rely on sign to converse with more people in the community," said Mrs Turia.

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