New Fiji Sign Language Self-Learning Video Dictionary Hand Over Ceremony

20 Dec, 2019

Permanent Secretaries

Dean for Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment, Dr. Anjeela Jokhan

President of Fiji Association of the Deaf, Ms Melita Lynn Delaibau

Members of Fiji Association of the Deaf

Distinguished Guests

Members of the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

  1. It gives me great pleasure to officiate at this historical and special handing over ceremony and I thank USP for inviting me.
  2. Today marks a significant milestone, not just for The University of the South Pacific or the Fiji Association of the Deaf, but for Specially-Abled people with hearing impairment nationwide.
  3. Let me first congratulate the project’s Principal Investigator, Dr Utkal Mehta, the project’s innovator Vineet Prasad and the team at the Fiji Association of the Deaf, for developing the new Fiji Sign Language (FJSL) Self-Learning Uniform Video Dictionary tool.
  4. This new tool is the first of its kind to support our fellow Fijians living with hearing impairment.

We have heard from the innovators, that the tool is fully adaptable, where new signs can be incorporated and more versions can be created in future. Indeed, it is an excellent innovation and I thank the innovators for this.

  1. Ladies and Gentlemen, according to the Fiji Association of the Deaf, there are not many sign language interpreters available in Fiji, thus, the difficulty in teaching parents and teachers in special schools.
  2. With the new tool, a lot more people can be trained as sign interpreters. This reduces ambiguity and encourages uniformity.
  3. Also anyone can learn independently from home or school using their computers or even televisions.
  4. Congratulations to both teams, you have taken the art of learning sign language to a whole new level.
  5. Ladies and Gentlemen, in ensuring that all Fijians are treated fairly, the Fijian Government enacted the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act last year and endorsed its implementation plan.
  6. The Fijian Government also endorsed the National Inclusive Employment Policy, where 300% rebate is awarded to employers who employed people with disabilities.
  7. I can assure you that your Government does recognise the needs of persons with disabilities (or special abilities) and will provide the support and guidance needed.
  8. Ladies and Gentlemen, today’s event demonstrates enthusiasm, passion, determination and innovative spirit of our youth.
  9. A 23-year-old Vineet Prasad’s invention, is what you see today. This graduate engineer’s capacity to develop innovative solutions for the greater good of our society is remarkable.

A round of applause please for Vineet Prasad.

  1. Ladies and Gentlemen, to be innovative is to be willing to devote yourself fully to make your idea a reality. Innovative people accept risk and are lifelong learners. They seek solutions for problems, thereby improving the competitiveness of the nation.
  2. More than ever, our country needs its young citizens to stand up and showcase their inherent creativity.
  3. With the belief we have in our youth and their abilities, the Fijian Government has put in place initiatives to encourage young Fijians into business. One such initiative is the Young Entrepreneurship Scheme or YES.
  4. Just last week, I launched the Prime Minister’s National Youth Awards – an Award that will recognise our young achievers in a number of fields, which includes digital innovation, someone who can harness technology to create something that will be beneficial to the Fijian people.

And Vineet’s invention is a very good example of a device that will make a significant impact in the lives of many Fijians.

  1. The Prime Minister’s National Youth Awards, provide the avenue through which young Fijians between the ages of 18 and 35 years will be rewarded. These are youths who have excelled in their respective fields of work and social service.
  2. Ladies and Gentlemen, the vision of the Fijian Government is to establish and develop a talented and competitive workforce. To equip young people with the know-how to succeed in this modern world, with the confidence that they can achieve greatness.
  3. I encourage our young people to think outside the box, be leaders in business, civil society and government, put your ideas at the forefront of Fiji’s development, with your innovative spirit taking our nation into the future.
  4. Dream big, turn those innovative and unique ideas into reality. Develop them into a sustainable venture and contribute to achieving the vision of transitioning Fiji towards a knowledge based and modern society.
  5. Ladies and Gentlemen, on today’s event, I once again congratulate USP’s Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment led by its Dean, Associate Professor Dr. Anjeela Jokhan and the President Fiji Association of the Deaf, for this milestone achievement.
  6. It is my hope that the new tool will be easily understood and used, at the same time benefit not only those with hearing impairment but to the nation as a whole.
  7. Ladies and Gentlemen, I now have great pleasure in presenting the new Fiji Sign Language Self-learning video dictionary tool to the Fiji Association of the Deaf.  I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Thank You. Vinaka Vakalevu. Dhanyavaad.