Rockhampton Eisteddfod signing choir adjudicator Peter Bonser said he learnt to sign and speak at the same time.
Rockhampton Eisteddfod signing choir adjudicator Peter Bonser said he learnt to sign and speak at the same time. Allan Reinikka

Useful adjudicator role

PETER Bonser says his first language was sign language and his second was English.

Despite being able to hear, Mr Bonser's parents were both profoundly deaf.

During his childhood, the first-born son said he learnt to sign and speak at the same time.

Mr Bonser turned his ability to communicate with the hearing impaired into a job in the 1980s and during the Queensland 2010 and 2011 floods he assisted former Premier Anna Bligh to deliver updates on television.

He said many hearing impaired people were unable to read the live captions and lobbied the State Government for an interpreter.

"They said 'we don't know whether to evacuate, where to go, who to call'," Mr Bonser said.

"It was great that we were able to do that."

But Mr Bonser's most recent role was as the adjudicator of the school signing choir section of the Rockhampton Eisteddfod yesterday.

For the past three years Mr Bonser has been coming to Rockhampton to judge the section.

Organiser Dr Les Killion said as far as he was aware the local eisteddfod was the only one which included the signing-choir section, which has been a part of the popular event for up to 12 years.

"It is a really important part of the eisteddfod," Dr Killion said.

Both men agree AUSLAN, the official sign language of people hearing impaired, was an important asset for people of all ages, not only students.

"There's nothing too hard about it, it's just like a second language," Mr Bonser said.



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