1 Jul 2013

Vanuatu sign dictionary step towards national sign language

3:21 pm on 1 July 2013

It is hoped that a dictionary of Vanuatu's local sign language will add momentum to moves to introduce a national language for deaf people and their communities.

A New Zealand Volunteer Service Abroad sign language trainer compiled the dictionary of local, or 'home' sign, as it is known - the basic signs developed by deaf people and their families in the absence of a sign language.

Jacqui Iseli says the main purpose of the publication, which translates the signs into English and Vanuatu pidgin or Bislama, is to teach young children the signs and get some continuity of language throughout the country.

She says at the moment every deaf person who is not in contact with others has their own sign language.

"It's different between islands and areas and villages, it's different between, so I suppose we're hoping to develop something a bit like a Bislama sign language that unites the deaf everywhere."

Jacqui Iseli says she understands the government has been considering introducing Melanesian sign language, which is actually signed Australian English.