Accessibility Tools

boy making a "W" symbol with his hands

Auslan is the main form of communication for deaf people residing in Australia. With upwards of 20,000 people using Auslan as their primary form of communication every day, it is important that we understand the history and significance of the language and its community.

Auslan is short for Australian Sign Language

It uses a visual form of communication that involves a mix of hand, arm, and body movements to convey meaning. Without the presence of Auslan, the community has no defining language. Being at the centre of deaf culture and community plays a part in unifying the deaf community, there is a distinct subculture recognised by shared history, social life and a sense of identity that is united by Auslan. So how can one learn the ins and outs of such an important language? What does it involve, and are there any benefits? Below is all the information needed to get your Auslan journey started.

So, what are the benefits of learning Auslan?

Like any language, the process of learning Auslan can provide us with a wide range of benefits ranging from an increased sense of inclusivity to improved cognitive development. Learning Auslan increases memory retention and motion processing while stimulating brain development and mental flexibility. There are multiple function related positives associated with the Auslan journey; however, the most beneficial may be that of increased enjoyment. Taking the time to learn Auslan as a second language not only gives you a lifelong skill but increases your ability to communicate with members of the Australian deaf community. The increased sense of belonging and community that may be associated with this holds the potential to increase enjoyment in communicating for both hearing and deaf members of society.

Are you worried that you do not have enough time to learn a new language?

There are a huge variety of Auslan courses available ranging from basic skills at an introductory level, all the way to certified courses and diplomas. If you want to become a certified interpreter, this takes roughly 2-6 years to achieve such proficiency. As with any new language, learning to master Auslan could take years to master; however, it is easy to get started with the simple click of a button. You could do a course with a friend so you can practice together.

Where do you begin?

If you know which avenue you wish to take (Diploma, online course, or free YouTube tutorials) the best thing to do is dive in. There are courses available that are specific to each state’s requirements, see the below links for more information based on your location!

An important, and frequently asked question, is how much will this cost?

The average cost of learning Auslan differs from state to state, company to company with Certificates and Diplomas coming at a higher cost. Follow the links above for your state to enquire about the overall cost of each program. If you are low on money but still wish to gain a new skill, there are multiple free online resources such as the below YouTube video that can help you start your Auslan journey. Of course, the free resources will not leave you with an official qualification. Still, it will leave you with a skill that encourages inclusiveness and an understanding of a broader community. 

Source - VicDeaf/Expressions Australia

The sooner you begin, the sooner you will master the basics of Auslan

The nature of Auslan means that you will always be challenged and learning new things every day.  The grammatical structure and physical nature of the language make it difficult to turn Auslan into a written language, so it is recommended that all learning and practice that follow be done in person or via access to videos. There are multiple resources to assist you in practising your newfound skill, with companies such as The Sign Language Forum providing multiple online activities that can assist you in improving your Auslan fingerspelling receptive skills. They can also assist with engagement with the Deaf Community via access to Auslan Forums and video chats that are available to all online users. Other organisations such as AUSLAN online provide the public with resources such as dictionaries and sign banks, providing you with a fun and less daunting way of practising Auslan elements such as fingerspelling speed and memory skills. It is important to note that Auslan signs are to be used correctly with respect given and shown to the Deaf community. Click here for a quick and easy factsheet provided by the National Disability Practitioners. You could do a course with a friend so you can learn and practice together. 

What are you waiting for?

Follow our links above to get your Auslan journey started.
The sooner you start, the sooner you will be out engaging positively with the Deaf Community.

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pdfUsing your hands to talk - Key Word Signing by Karen Bloomberg

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