Television New Zealand Archive

‘Deaf Book’: First NZSL dictionary makes it to print

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Reporter Tsehai Tiffin touches upon Dan Levitt’s work on the first NZSL dictionary produced in 1985. This dictionary popularised the name, ‘New Zealand Sign Language’.

Dan describes the difference between the English Signing System and NZSL. The segment goes on to briefly feature Deaf children in the classroom at Van Asch School communicating in Total English.

Dan led the first training of sign language interpreters. During the course, Deaf people were video-recorded and their signs were described and compiled in a dictionary of 1200 entries. Levitt’s photographic dictionary features many older signers, making it a valuable record of early signs that have since become rare.

This one and half minute news segment was shown on Television New Zealand on 9 June 1987, with the 6:30pm slot labelled ‘Deaf Book’.

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Original format Videotape Beta Digitalcam