The Impact of Incorrect Problem Identification on New Zealand Sign Language Reform
71 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2018 Last revised: 13 Jul 2018
Date Written: April 4, 2018
New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is the first language of the New Zealand Deaf community. The first attempts to protect the language were through the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006 which officialised the language. The secondary purposes to promote and maintain the language have not been realised. The fundamental barrier to achieving effective reform around NZSL, is incorrect problem identification. The misunderstood identification issue stems from a perception of Deaf as disabled limiting the potential effectiveness of reform towards NZSL. This approach neglects to view the debate around New Zealand Sign Language as a prominent and fundamental issue linguistically and culturally. In doing so, language mechanisms are not utilised in situations where they otherwise might. This paper seeks to uncover the impact that the incorrect problem identification has had on New Zealand Sign Language both on the Deaf Community itself, as well as in relation to stages of the law reform process aimed at quality decision making. Reform through legislation or policy needs to be implemented to ensure the languages survival. This will not occur unless the issue is placed within a cultural linguistic framework recognising Deaf as a Culture and not as disabled. It is submitted that a national languages policy should be developed to guide and legitimise the sign language issue.
Keywords: law reform; New Zealand Sign Language; problem identification
JEL Classification: K00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation