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About TeachSign

The TeachSign website is designed as a one-stop hub for NZSL teachers to access information and resources about teaching NZSL, particularly in the area of community education.

This website has been instigated and sponsored by the TAB Book Project Committee, namely Lynette Pivac, Shona McGhie, Dulcie McKie and Mary Johnson.  This group was called the TAB sub-committee and initiated the publication, distribution and sale of The NZSL Basic Handbook and A Dictionary of Signed Synonyms, in order to meet the demands of NZSL students requiring NZSL handbooks, and to sponsor local workshops and NZSLTA national conferences over the years for the benefit of NZSL teachers, as well as a computer and laptop for the NZSLTA.

See below for a historical overview of the TAB Book Project Committee, and thereafter TeachSign from 2014.


After the incorporation of the NZSLTA on 25 June, a group of Auckland NZSL tutors decided to set up a new local body called Tutors Auckland Branch (TAB) in October.


A sub-committee was set up to create an NZSL handbook for NZSL students.  The project committee were Lynette Pivac, Penny Went, Dulcie McKie, Ngaire Doherty and Mary Speirs. Some volunteers were recruited to work on this project every Saturday.


After one and a half years’ hard work, the Basic NZSL Handbook containing 480 signs illustrated by Stuart Howard was launched (see photo). Thereafter Lynette Pivac set up a mail-order business for the TAB with the assistance of Carol Brady to distribute and sell the handbooks for the next six years.

From left: Penny Went, Mary Speirs, Dulcie McKie, Lynette Pivac, and Ngaire Doherty.

From left: Penny Went, Mary Speirs, Dulcie McKie, Lynette Pivac, and Ngaire Doherty.


The proceeds of handbook sales helped to start another handbook project, with the aim of more more sign drawings.


The TAB subcommittee changed its name to TABPC, to focus on NZSL resource development.
TABPC agreed to Lynette Pivac making a new NZSL Tutors Handbook (guidelines) to give guidance to NZSL tutors teaching in New Zealand.


The handbook called A Dictionary of Signed Synonyms, consisting of 580 signs, was published and launched on 26 January at the 6th NZSLTA National Conference.

TABPC decided to set up a new separate charitable body called Auckland Sign Language and Resources Charitable Trust. This trust was incorporated in November for the purpose of caretaking monies for NZSL resource development.


These two handbooks for NZSL students are now distributed and sold through Deaf Aotearoa’s local offices for a commission fee.


TABPC agreed to cease the publication of handbooks due to the creation of the accessible NZSL Online Dictionary, launched in 2011.


TABPC appointed Sara Pivac Alexander to investigate the NZSL Level One teaching and resourcing needs of NZSL teachers. A report is published in March.


TABPC sponsored a number of NZSL resource development projects based on the survey report. Sara Pivac Alexander and Victoria Lessing worked on new materials.


Kirsten Morgan is contracted to develop a new website to host NZSL teaching resources. The TeachSign website and NZSL Level One curriculum are launched at 13th NZSLTA National Conference in July. The curriculum is fully completed in 2015.


TeachSign Units 1 and 2 are updated. Approximately 230 English phrases related to classroom materials are translated and filmed for the benefit of NZSL tutors.


Auckland Deaf Society and Merge NZ created the NZSL for Families curriculum, which is an adaptation of TeachSign Level One materials.

The Office for Disability Issues commissioned Sara Pivac Alexander, Lynette Pivac and Susie Ovens to oversee NZSL Level Two Learning Outcomes Framework Project. Learning outcomes were developed and a NZSL Tutors Survey Report was conducted to review TeachSign Level One curriculum and website. Approximately 2,400 drawings illustrated by Shaun Fahey were uploaded to the TeachSign website. A Maori NZSL advisory group met to discuss possible adaptation of TeachSign Units 1-3 for Māori/Te Reo settings.

CreateNZSL is awarded a two-year contract by the NZSL Board to work on TeachSign Level Two curriculum project.


TeachSign website is relaunched. Some new features include a centralised database of NZSL teaching, online membership system, detailed account of NZSLTA history, and a learners' section. Within this section, there are new class listings, level one homework site, NZSL Tutors Directory, and links to learning resources.

TeachSign Units 1-3 is adapted by Rachel Turner and Rachel Walker for teaching in Māori/Te Reo settings.

Merge NZ is awarded a contract by the NZSL Board to redevelop TeachSign Level One materials, which included new grammar / dialogue videos and teaching posters.


Merge NZ created new TeachSign Level One materials such as Deaf culture, narrative and teaching sample videos, assessment materials, Deaf Deaf World kits and game kits for each local tutor branch.

TeachSign Level Two curriculum is launched on 14th August at the 16th NZSLTA National Conference which was held at Otago University in Dunedin. Thirty-five people were involved in this large scale project, led by Sara Pivac Alexander (CreateNZSL) and her core team - Lynette Pivac, Victoria Lessing, Susie Ovens, Josje Lelijveld and Becky West.

TeachSign worked with NZSLTA to obtain a large grant to deliver NZSL Level Two Curriculum Training for tutors during 2021.


NZSLTA organised 9 tutor training weekends to train NZSL tutors to use TeachSign Level Two materials. An additional 15 x 1-hour online sessions were delivered, focusing on grammar.


Last updated: 29/7/2022