Māori woman develops game to teach sign language

By Jessica Tyson

A Māori innovator has developed a digital game to revolutionise sign language education.

Adele Hauwai created the social enterprise SeeCom, also known as Reo-ā-Karu, a social enterprise to provide sign language classes and products to help people communicate.

“Sign language is one of the easiest languages to learn and it can be fun for children, parents and whānau,” says Hauwai, of Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Kahungunu and Tūhoe descent.

The game is in the final stages of development and targets children and adults who struggle with communication due to having autism or being language delayed.

SeeCom is also focused on training people who are fluent in te reo Māori to be sign language tutors and the enterprise has been swamped with interest from Māori organisations, kura kaupapa and kōhanga reo.

“We've had strong interest from parents of children with disabilities, health workers, social workers, kaiako teaching te reo Māori and school teachers,” says Hauwai. 

“It's a win-win for all communities – even opening up employment and education opportunities for people with health limitations but have the competency and passion to teach reo rotarota.”

SeeCom has also developed other sign language games and products in te reo including posters and flash cards that have been successful with early childhood education centres and won multiple innovation awards.

Hauwai been assisted in her business growth by advisors at Waikato Innovation Park in Hamilton.