Auslan (Australian Sign Language) is the language of the Deaf community of Australia and is descended from British Sign Language (BSL). Auslan and other signed languages around the world are fully-fledged languages that are visual-gestural in nature. They have a complete set of linguistic structures and are complex and highly nuanced.

Signed languages evolve naturally in Deaf communities in which signers use mutually agreed signs and ways of ordering them to communicate with each other. Signed languages have their own grammar and lexicon which are not based on the spoken language of the country or region although they are influenced by them.

 Although signed and spoken languages share many linguistic principles, the visual-gestural modality results in some unique features of signed languages not found in spoken languages.

There are many different signed languages around the world, some of which can be grouped into ‘language families’. Auslan belongs to the BSL family, which includes the contemporary British, Australian and New Zealand sign languages, which all share a similar lexicon and grammar. Auslan can be traced back to the arrival of Europeans in Australia in the late 1700s, with BSL users arriving in Australia as convicts and as free settlers. Although now considered a relatively young language in its own right, the ancestral link Auslan shares with BSL gives it historical context as a member of one of the longest continuing signed language families in the world.

Reception/Foundation – Students are becoming familiar with Auslan, including the introduction of letter recognition and basic vocabulary. Some cultural aspects of Auslan will be discussed.

Years 1-7 – Student focus will mainly consist of revision of the previous year’s learning with the introduction of new vocab and grammatical structure later in the term. This may be delivered through games, song, and discussion, affording all students opportunities to practice Auslan in different scenarios.

The curriculum will be built on the desires to communicate and interact particularly around topics that are familiar.

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National Week of Deaf People is held annually in September, and provides the Deaf community with a week-long celebration. It is an opportunity to honour Deaf culture and language as well as raise vital awareness about social inclusion and communication barriers.