NZSL Week 2015
With a theme of Celebrate, Communicate, Connect, 2015's NZSL Week got New Zealanders involved in learning and promoting NZSL.
Held from 4 – 10 May 2015, the NZSL Week was hosted by Deaf Aotearoa with the help of a generous grant from the NZSL Fund. It was massive fun for everyone involved, with regional events, social media campaigns, online games, NZSL taster classes and the NZSL In Action Awards.
Sixty events were organised nationwide – including several tours, Circus Quirkus Nelson, Sign Song Workshop with the Kapiti Gospel Choir and Comedy Festivals from Ben Target and Wilson Dixon. Many were interpreted mainstream events and activities that the Deaf community rarely get to fully enjoy. One tour attendee commented "how wonderful it was to have access (interpreters) and how access should be something enjoyed every day."
Throughout the week over 14,500 people got a wee taster of NZSL in free classes provided by Deaf Aotearoa. These proved popular, with students at Stanmore Bay School wishing they could have classes every week and the Amputee Society of Taranaki saying that time “went way too fast!!”
The NZSL Week also involved a strong media campaign to raise awareness and understanding. An online Learn 7 Signs in 7 Days competition received over 200 entries, and as part of My Favourite Sign people shared videos of them doing their favourite sign across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The television commercial "New Boy" played over 120 times across various channels – if you haven’t seen it already, check it out the video. Be warned though, it may leave you a little emotional!
Dylan Louie, "a big family man who loves his family, his work and his friends, and is passionate about sport," was introduced as the face of NZSL Week 2015. He starred in an online campaign to show "A Day in the Life" of a Deaf person in New Zealand. Feedback for the campaign has been awesome so far, with comments like "Fantastic video! This made me sooo proud of our Deaf culture, our community, and our language" typical.
Without a doubt though the highlight of NZSL Week was the NZSL In Action Awards. The Awards provided a chance to celebrate the people and organisations who have worked hard to promote NZSL and the advancement of Deaf people in New Zealand. 170 people, including the Minister for Disability Issues Nicky Wagner, attended the event at Te Papa on 9 May.
The winners were:
- NZSL Accessible Service Award – Auckland City Council
- NZSL Employer Award – Co-Ed Educators & Coffee Shop – Claire Matheson
- NZSL in Health Award – Health Promotion Agency (HPA) & Cognition Health Education
- Interpreter of the Year Award – Lynx – Auckland
- NZSL in the Media Award – Pickled Possum Productions – Mary Phillips
- NZSL in Schools Award – Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Ruanui
- NZSL in Early Childhood Education Award – Hillpark Kindergarten
- NZSL in Teaching Award – Karla Smith – Auckland
- Highly Commended Award – Hannah Newell – Karori West Normal School
- Magnet Youth Award – Eric Matthews
- Māori Champion Award – Patrick Thompson QSM (awarded posthumously)
- NZSL Champion Award – TeachSign Project Team
NZSL Week may be over for this year, but if you are interested in learning more about NZSL and Deaf culture you can play Sign Ninja at http://www.nzslsignninja.co.nz/game/?guest=true . While the game is technically designed for children ages 7 – 12, many adults have enjoyed it as well since its launch in 2014.
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