User:Egberts/Deaf history of New Zealand

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

This page describes the history of relations or impacts to New Zealand people recognized as having different hearing capabilities.

The Beginning[edit]

In 1878, William Rolleston, one of the South Island MPs, introduced a bill to fund an institution for the Deaf. The Government, however, decided on oral education only. There was no acceptance, at that stage, of sign language, but a few years later Gerrit van Asch, an expert on oral education, came to New Zealand to open a school for the Deaf in Sumner. What was concerning was that only 14 students enrolled at Sumner, as no signing students were accepted at the time

In 1904, an Act of Parliament forced parents to enrol their deaf children at the college[1] (then known as the Sumner Institute).

Oralist era[edit]

Up until the late 1970s, the philosophy of the school was to prevent the students from using sign language (now New Zealand's third official language). Children were taught exclusively via oral methods, forcing them to learn to lipread and speak, with punishments being given for use of sign language.[2]

Unsurprisingly, the children used sign language secretly and after leaving school, developing NZSL out of British Sign Language largely without adult intervention for over 100 years. The main haven for NZSL was the Deaf Clubs in the main centres. In 1979, "Total Communication" (a "use anything that works" philosophy) was adopted at the Sumner School, but the signing it used was "Auslan" an artificial signed form of English. As a result, younger signers use a number of Auslan signs in their NZSL, to such an extent that some call traditional NZSL "Old Sign". NZSL was adopted for teaching in 1994.

Bilingual teaching[edit]

In the late 1970s, the school switched to bilingual teaching and currently, in addition to presenting the curriculum in NZSL, Sign Supported English and oral (aural) modes, the College now offers the facility for deaf and hearing-impaired students being educated in mainstream settings to learn about NZSL as part of a Deaf Studies curriculum.

June 2004, New Zealand parlaiment made New Zealand sign language official.[3]


  1. ^ New Zealand Sign Language Bill: Second Reading: 23 Feb 2006: NZ Parliament |
  2. ^ :: New Zealand Sign Language Week :: History Page
  3. ^ Dyson, Ruth (2004-6-22). "Hansard Daily Debate". New Zealand Parliament. 618: 13757. Retrieved 2011-03-21. provides official recognition of New Zealand Sign Language, the unique language of Deaf New Zealanders  Check date values in: |date= (help)

[ [Category:Deaf]] [ [Category:Deaf history]] [ [Category:History of New Zealand | Deaf history]]