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Are you struggling to find something specific on the archive? Or are you simply looking for some tips to make you a super-searcher? This section contains information and tips to help you navigate the SignDNA archive and find what you’re looking for!

You can do a simple search for collection items by entering your search terms and keywords into the search bar, then click the search icon. This will produce a broad result, which can then be narrowed down by additional filter options. For example, by media type: Biography, Videos, Images, Publications, Collections, NZSL Stories. If you know the reference number or title of the item you’re interested in, enter these into the search bar – for example, TW04-03-SPO85 for ‘And the gold goes to John Ooteman!’

What are keywords?

Keywords are words assigned to an archival item which helps with your search. Be aware that the system requires an exact match so if your keyword does not return any matches the first time perhaps try a different version of the word. For instance, we use ‘interpreting’ instead of ‘interpreters’. We also use ‘captioning’ instead of ‘captions’ or ‘subtitles’. So if you think your search is for a common word but you do not find any matches it is worth trying other spellings to find the match.

We also try to use the full name of an organisation, if feasible, e.g. Manawatu Deaf Society instead of abbreviations like MDS. Sometimes an organisation has changed names so many times over the years that we use a generalised keyword, e.g. Deaf sports instead of ‘NZ Deaf Sports’, ‘NZDS’, ‘DSNZ’, etc. When you’re searching for people, places, or events, it’s a good idea to try different variations. For example:

  • Anthony Walton or Tony Walton
  • Deaf Association or Deaf Aotearoa
  • Sports Convention or Deaf sports
  • World Deaf Games or Deaflympics

Finding your item through matching keywords

If you are unsure what the keyword is of an item you are looking for, we suggest that you go into an archival item that is close to what you are seeking, and you will see the list of tags used for that item. In clicking one of those keywords, you will be shown other items matching that term. We know a NZSL archive that requires English keywords for searching is not ideal, and we are limited in the number of keywords we can use, however it is important to us that the Deaf community is able to use the archive comfortably and easily, so your suggestions to help us improve our keywords, or to add more keywords are welcome of course! Please get in touch with us.

Are you searching for people, places or events and nothing shows up?

There are reasons why something might not be showing up in your search. You might have spelled someone’s name incorrectly. For instance, you searched for ‘Pat Bryan’. Nothing shows up. ‘Patreena Bryan’ is the correct keyword to use. It’s good to try different variations of that person’s name. We also have shortcuts you can try! Visit the ‘Tagged Individuals’ page where you will see a database of names on the archive. There, you can search for the person you are looking for. Names are sorted in alphabetical order, based on a person’s first name.

Our team needs you to let us know if we’re missing a keyword, i.e. a name or a place! Sometimes our team watches a video from a long time ago and we’re not sure of the name of the person or place. There is not enough information to add this to the archive which then makes your search difficult! We encourage you to help us improve the archive by telling us ideas of keywords to add to make the archive easier to use and navigate! Just because an item is on the archive doesn’t mean that it has been fully tagged with all possible names, background content and context and keywords. Your help is needed to further enrich the archive with more detail.

How does SignDNA organise names?

SignDNA uses an individual’s current name. This means that if a person has married since their name became known it is possible that the archive does not have links using their name before they were married. Our tagging is based on archival items submitted, and the name of a person in an item may not align with the person’s name today or their preferred name. People change names and we want to be respectful of their current name. If we have made an error please let us know your current name and we will correct this as soon as possible.

Not sure of a name or its spelling?

If you are looking for someone specific but cannot remember their name or how to spell it, it might be useful to have a look at the ‘Individual Tagging’ page, which is a database of people who have already been tagged in archival items. Names are organised in alphabetical order, using the first name of a person. Many of the names there also have photos which may help you to identify the person you are looking for.

Search help and support

If you’re struggling to use the search function or you can’t find what you need. Send us a message either in NZSL or written English, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. This may be a few days, but let us know if your enquiry is more urgent!