1 Jul 2013

Emotion among Vanuatu deaf people at access to sign dictionary

7:10 pm on 1 July 2013

A sign language trainer working in Vanuatu with New Zealand's Volunteer Service Abroad says deaf people there have had a very emotional response to the publication of a sign language dictionary.

Jacqui Iseli 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.

A grant from the Norman Kirk Memorial Trust has made it possible to print 500 copies, which are intended for distribution across the country through preschool co-ordinators.

Ms Iseli says for older, deaf ni-Vanuatu the dictionary acknowledges that their language is valid.

"Just to see such emotions on the face, of actually being regarded and validated that their language was valuable enough to be put into a dictionary. It just does so much for a person, doesn't it, if you've not had that recogniition."

Jacqui Iseli says the dictionary translates the home sign into English and Bislama and she understands the Ministry of Education wants to republish it to include French.