Children relish chance for a group 'sign-a-long'

Last updated 12:58 15/05/2014
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ

HERE'S HOW: Hampden Street School pupils show the sign language word for New Zealand while they were at the Church Steps performing the national anthem in sign language as part of sign language week.

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Nelson schoolchildren used their hands, instead of voices, to recite the national anthem to celebrate New Zealand Sign Language Week.

Two classes from Hampden Street School gathered at the Church Steps yesterday to sign instead of sing.

Tutor Cathy Gutschlag visited the school three times a week to take sign language lessons, using visual aids and games.

Gutschlag said sign language was a great way for children to "communicate with and support the deaf community and be more inclusive".

Sign language was recognised as an official language in New Zealand in 2006, along with English and Maori.

Deaf Association social enterprises manager Becky Hadfield was also at the event and signed, along with other advocates and hearing impaired adults. Apart from the national anthem, Abba and Westlife songs also featured in the sign-a-long.

Hadfield said it was great children were learning the language, as they could continue to use it when they were older.

New Zealand Sign Language week was also promoting people to learn their favourite word in sign language and post video of them performing it on its website.

Events for New Zealand Sign Language Week are being held through Deaf Aotearoa.

As an official New Zealand language, sign language is used daily by more than 24,000 New Zealanders.

It involves a combination of hand shapes, facial expressions and body movements, and is not simply signed representations of spoken words. New Zealand Sign Language has its own structure and grammar that is different from English.

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- The Nelson Mail

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