First-year sign language student takes out top NZ award


By Melanie Cooper

A documentary exploring why New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) isn’t a language option in secondary schools, despite being one of New Zealand’s official languages, has seen AUT University first-year student Lisa Thompson win the “NZSL in the Media” Award.

The annual NZSL Awards were held in Wellington last weekend – during NZSL Week – and Thompson won the award category for an individual or media organisation that demonstrates a commitment to promoting NZSL and Deaf awareness.

Her short six-minute documentary The Future is in Your Hands was also entered in last year’s Outlook for Someday film challenge and was one of the 20 winning films selected out of 156 entries that came from all over New Zealand and involved 550 young people.

Languages lecturer Lynette Pivac says the message of the video is so important.

“I absolutely support this goal: from when a child starts school until they finish – sign language should be an option. It would make school life so easy for any Deaf child who came to the school if other students could sign, or likewise for a hearing child with Deaf parents or grandparents who might come to the school,” she says.

“They would feel more like part of the community. Sign language wouldn’t be a strange thing but just a normal part of everyday life in the community.”

“We’re so proud of Lisa winning the award, it’s fantastic. It’s amazing that she is taking the initiative to advocate like this and she is only a young person herself.”

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