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October 24, 2003

Third official language to be introduced

From: Newstalk ZB, New Zealand - Oct 24, 2003

New Zealand sign language is set to become our third official language.

Cabinet has agreed to introduce a bill to Parliament by the end of this year.

Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson says the purpose of official recognition is to acknowledge deaf people's language as a unique New Zealand language.

She says the bill will give deaf language equal status to that of spoken languages.

Ms Dyson says the Deaf Association has been seeking official recognition of their language for 20 years.

She says the immediate effect of the bill will be to give people the right to use sign language in any legal proceedings, including in court.

Copyright The Radio Network 2003