Topics: Business, Technology, Te Reo Māori

First digital interactive sign language game

By Mānia Clarke
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It's New Zealand sign language week and Māori entrepreneur Adele Hauwai is on track to creating the world's first digital interactive sign language game.

The founder of SeeCom says the groundbreaking tool will be translated into several sign languages, including Māori.

Hauwai says Sign Me a Genie is a new world-breaking digital sign language game.

“We tautoko the deaf community, helping to improve employment and education for them...boost te Reo Māori, boost English skills,” says Hauwai.

Targeted toward 2 to 18-year-olds and their families, the game's aim is to increase literacy through hands-on learning, including for those with disabilities.

“There are other people who have different skills.  For example, children with autism who can't speak, or even people who are learning te Reo Māori, to support language, so you can learn the hands-on way, the spoken language”.

The ground-breaking technology has the ability to translate hand signs.

“You sit in front of a computer, open it up and basically you can just sign in front of the screen and the characters will copy what you're signing.  So you sign jump, the character will jump. You sign hīkoi or oma, it will copy what you're signing”.

With over 200 sign languages around the world, the game will be translated into Chinese, Japanese, American, German, British and Māori.

Hauwai says merging both official languages of Te Reo Māori and sign language will allow access for people to learn about their Māori culture.

“Especially due to limited interpreters, limited resources, they haven't been able to learn te Reo Māori or their tikanga properly”.

In a first Māori sign language words such as Aotearoa, marae, run, mountain and Matariki will be taught through the digital game.