Meet the Māori innovator behind the world’s first digital interactive sign language game

As Hauwai explains: “Sign language is one of the easiest languages to learn and it can be fun for children, parents and whānau. There are so many benefits to learning sign language. It’s not just for deaf people. We educate parents how to communicate with all children using Te Reo Rotarota (sign language), even parents of children with autism or with slow speech development or learning challenges.”

SeeCom was established in November 2016 by Hauwai, and has grown to 12 employees. Initially set up to teach basic sign language to parents and caregivers of babies, the company has become much more than that. For instance, in the past year, SeeCom has been recognised with multiple awards for its products and services, which also includes sign language posters and flash cards in Te Reo Māori.

Hauwai says one of the challenges of her business is the misconception that sign language is only for deaf people. Sign language “is for everyone,” she says, and can be used as a “support language” for everyone from babies, toddlers and children to those with communication barriers. “Sign language is empowering,” she explains. “I struggled with learning, and sign language helped me. I’ve been communicating in sign language for more than 25 years. For a toddler or child who struggles to communicate, it reduces frustration and tantrums, helps with bonding and relationships and boosts confidence.”

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Published by Idealog on 13 March 2018.



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