Media Release – 26 July 2012
Diversityworks Trust in partnership with Deafradio is pleased to announce the launch of a nationally significant archiving project that focuses on preserving the history of New Zealand Sign Language and the Deaf Community.
The project, called SignDNA (Sign Language Deaf National Archive), aims to locate Deaf-related footage filmed prior to the early 1990’s, with the intention to digitise and host the footage on SignDNA’s website, which will be freely accessible to all.
SignDNA is run under the umbrella of Diversityworks Trust, which facilitates projects and partnerships that promote diversity, creativity and social change.
“We’re very excited to support Deafradio to preserve evidence of the origins and early development of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) and NZ Deaf culture,” said Executive Director Philip Patston.
“We see this as an important part of our country’s diversity that needs to be recognised and valued.”
Diversityworks Trust and Deafradio lead this project with the guidance and advice from a Deaf Community Advisory Group. This group includes people from all over New Zealand who have a passion for Deaf history, who have experience with video footage and private collections, and a knowledge and understanding of older styles of sign language to help with the translating and categorising of the footage.
“The SignDNA team would love to hear from anyone who may have footage, or know where such footage exists,” said Raymond Jenkin from the advisory group. “It’s vital this footage, particularly the older films, are digitally converted for preservation before it’s too late.”
Deafradio Creative Director Sonia Pivac adds, “NZSL history is literally dissolving before our eyes. So there is great urgency in locating and preserving this heritage”.
The SignDNA website www.signDNA.org.nz launched today, now contains a public call for NZSL footage and other assistance, presented in NZSL and English. It is hoped the full site containing the online archive will be formally re-launched with archival footage by the end of the year.
Philip Patston, Diversityworks Trust 021 764 837
Daniel Hanks, Deafradio, 0225 DEAFRADIO (332 372)