Deaf New Zealanders will have better access to the country's third official language with the launch of a multimedia sign language dictionary.
The online database contains about 4000 New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) signs, accompanied by line drawings and video clips to show how to produce each sign and how the signs are used in context.
"This is a unique national resource that enables public access to New Zealand's third official language," David McKee, director of the Deaf Studies Research Unit at Wellington's Victoria University, said.
"The development of an online, bilingual dictionary raises the public profile and accessibility of NZSL for all New Zealanders."
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Penny Boumelha said the online dictionary continued a tradition of Victoria leading the way in championing NZSL.
"Since the mid-1980s, Victoria University has led research and documentation of NZSL. This work has made a significant contribution to achieving recognition of NZSL as an official language in 2006, and to improving societal understanding of the NZSL community.
"As we have seen in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes, sign language has provided crucial assistance to New Zealand's deaf community during press conferences.
"Access to information becomes a precious commodity in times of civil emergency, making this new website an invaluable resource," she said.
The new online dictionary builds on the work of Professor Graeme Kennedy who edited the first dictionary of NZSL in 1997 and also founded the Deaf Studies Research Unit.