The long running Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme has historically been the starting point for a number of innovative new business ideas.
One of this year’s entries, from a group of Pakuranga College students, is certainly no exception.
Their business SLICNZ’s aim is to educate young people about the importance of New Zealand Sign Language.
As the group’s CEO, Ned Verrall, points out, “New Zealand has three national languages – Te Reo Māori, English and New Zealand Sign Language.
“Out of the 880,000 people who are deaf or hard of hearing within New Zealand, roughly 20,000 know how to use NZSL. This is around just 2 per cent of the deaf or hard of hearing population. We recognise that this is a problem, so we decided to try and come up with something that would help.”
The result is a pack of 52 standard playing cards, but with a twist. There are 13 designs included in the pack, with each design showing a character doing an NZSL sign, and the relevant translation in English below.
The colourful cards have been illustrated by local artist and former Pakuranga College student Shervonne Grierson and can be used to play a variety of games. Aimed at young people, Verrall says, “We are really hoping that they will generate some excitement around learning New Zealand Sign Language.”
As part of their determination to make their idea a success, the group even tested the cards on their target market, holding a focus group at Sunnyhills Primary School. Kara Levick, who takes care of the group’s marketing, along with fellow student Harry Glover, were happy with the outcome.
“We found out how much the kids loved our product. They gave us helpful feedback, both positive and negative, and we took this into account and used it to alter our initial product to better suit our target market.”
SLICNZ is currently selling directly to schools, early learning centres and members of the public, and the cards are proving to be a real success. They attribute part of this to a resurgence of popularity in card games brought about by lockdown.
“People were forced to find different ways to entertain themselves, which likely caused an increase in playing cards being used. It’s awesome how such a simple tool can bring people together.”
- You can help SLICNZ in their mission to raise awareness of New Zealand Sign Language by going to slicnz.com or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org