A chance to learn sign language

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Roger Strong and Philippa Strong, from the Southland Deaf Community Inc, who are hosting sign language lessons.

SIGN language is a dramatic language to use, and the opportunity to learn the language is now available.

An introduction to learning sign language is being held on Thursdays, from 6pm to 8pm, at the Southland Deaf Community (SDC) Inc clubrooms, the former Lewis Hairdressing, 66 Glengarry Cres.

Sign language is New Zealand’s third official language, with the first week in May the official week to promote the language.

Organiser Roger Strong signed he had attended the van Asch School for the Deaf (now renamed van Asch Deaf Education Centre) in Sumner, Christchurch, from when he was 5, for 13 years.

Before learning signing, communicating had been frustrating and limited, having to point to things to try to get his parents to understand him, he signed.

“There was a lot of frustration and sadness.”

SDC treasurer Philippa Strong said Mr Strong had always wanted a clubroom for people who were deaf.

“We used to be at the Invercargill Workingmen’s Club, but it was hard for those people who could hear with the background music… As [the former] secretary, I found it difficult to pick up what people were saying, especially when trying to take notes.

“When the building [in Glengarry] became available, Roger thought it would be ideal.”

The clubrooms have been operating since the middle of last year with a social day on Wednesdays, 10am-1pm, each week.

Mr Strong, a painter and paperhanger by trade, signed there were about 80 people in Invercargill who were deaf, and about 12 came along to the clubrooms regularly.

Signing lessons began last week, and were for anyone who was interested in learning how to sign, Mrs Strong said.

Signing was a diverse language, with different signs for Australian, American and Maori words.

Mrs Strong, who is hearing impaired, said she had also been learning how to sign for the past four years, and had found the basic signing “easy” and was “progressing along” learning.

For more information about learning sign language, phone 27 216 0111, or email roger.strong@xtra.co.nz

For more information about the Southland Deaf Community Inc, text Roger Strong on 021 545 191 or Rebecca Petre on 021 554 905.

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