Starting in the New Year, Merge NZ is bringing New Zealand Sign Language to the Bay.
Merge NZ is a deaf lead social enterprise that was established in 2017, with a proportion of their profits being given back to the deaf community.
Although they are Auckland based, they have classes in the Waikato, and as of 2019, they will be running classes in the Bay of Plenty.
Merge NZ offers deaf culture workshops, NZSL learning for infants to adults, professional development for staff and visit schools.
Director of Merge NZ and NZSL specialist Jaime Brown says their vision is to normalise NZSL in New Zealand.
'Deaf people are humans, they have babies, have jobs, go to the bank, need to see doctors, go shopping, or go to a parent teacher interview at their child's school,”
'All these everyday things are made easier if people have a basic understanding of deaf culture and NZSL.
'Just as most Kiwis can say ‘Kai Ora', or ‘Aroha', it would be great if people could greet a deaf person in NZSL and have a basic understanding of what deaf culture means.
'We live in a hearing world, everything is designed for people that can hear, it would be great to make this world a little more accessible.
'We also want deaf children to have schoolmates that can sign, that have teachers that can sign and have families that can sign.
'There are plenty of deaf and hard of hearing people in the Bay of Plenty, including children, so let's make the Bay a NZSL friendly place to live,” says Jaime.
Merge NZ will be holding a 15 week beginner course at the Historic Village starting in February 2019.
For more information head to Merge NZ's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MergeNZLtd/