North Shore Times : January 16th 2014
14 NORTH SHORE TIMES, JANUARY 16, 2014 Education&training James Whale can speak as well as any 5-year-old but sometimes he lets his hands do the talking. James and his family are among the dwindling number of Kiwis who can use New Zealand Sign Language. James become profoundly deaf after getting meningococcal meningitis as a newborn. But, despite James being able to hear with the help of bilateral cochlear implants, his mother, Katy Lyde, says it was important to teach her son to sign. "He is still deaf and to isolate him from an entire community that can understand him better than we can would be cruel." However, figures suggest many Kiwi parents are not bothering to teach their deaf children sign language at all. Census 2013 figures show the sign language in a precarious position, shedding more than quarter of its users in the past 12 years. The decline is particularly sharp among teenagers. Why is unclear, but Rachel McKee, at Victoria University’s Deaf Studies, cites the rise in cochlear implants among children, the decline in deaf schools, and fewer adult education options, all as possible causes. The decline is happening despite unprecedented public interest in sign language and a strong demand to learn, particularly since it was named a national language in 2006. However, this doesn’t always translate to more people learning to sign, McKee says. Sign language won’t disappear as long as there are deaf people who want to communicate, but the size and strength of the community is worrying, she says. Of the 20,235 Kiwis who can sign, most are not deaf but have learned to communicate with a deaf friend or family member. But as fewer people learn sign language, there will be fewer to teach deaf children. "With minority languages, the Wanna big OE? Go as a Nanny! Study for FREE @ NZCC OUR NANNIES ARE IN DEMAND IN NEWZEALAND & WORLDWIDE Qualify to work with families in New Zealand or overseas ENROL NOW *Conditions apply 0800 88 6922 www.nzcc.ac.nz www.nzcc.ac.nz most difficult thing is transmitting from one generation to the next. With sign language that is particularly hard." Lyde says learning to sign has been slow and hard, particularly with three young children. She and her husband, John Whale, attended night classes for three years and then tried to pass what they learned on to Sign time: 5 year old James Whale sign’s withmumKaty Whale. their children. "It is hard because there are not really any places where families can go together to learn." These days, the whole family can sign passably, with James’s sister Milly particularly enthusiastic. While James prefers to speak with his implant in, signing is useful in bed or loud places where his implants struggle to differentiate noise. www.northshoretimes.co.nz Advertising Feature View our latest edition online at www.northshoretimes.co.nz Fewer Kiwis using sign language Vocational Courses - Professional Careers Auckland City Campus email@example.com 12 MONTH COMMUNITY MEMBERSHIP NEW YEAR SPECIAL Offer Expires 01/02/2014 | *Conditions apply. Call 09 414 0844 or check out albanyrecreation.ac.nz $705* Enrol now We make the people who make it unitec.ac.nz With 9 courses available, find your success in COMPUTINGand IT at Unitec.
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