Auslan, an abbreviation for Australian Sign Language, is a distinctive and vibrant language employed by the deaf community in Australia. Auslan is more than just a set of signs; it’s a fully-fledged language with its own grammar and syntax. The attraction of Auslan goes beyond the Deaf community, as it holds immense potential for bridging gaps in communication and social inclusion for everyone.
Embracing Auslan can empower communities to foster an environment where deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) young people can actively participate in local activities, such as swimming classes, sport, dance and more. What’s more, research demonstrates there are incredible developmental benefits to introducing sign from as young as 6 to 8 months.
The Importance of Auslan
The advantages of learning Auslan are rich. For those that are deaf or hard of hearing, and use Auslan, it’s a vital means of communication and for the hearing population, it offers an avenue to connect with and understand the Deaf community.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, approximately one in six Australians have some kind of hearing loss. Imagine if Auslan was more readily available through schools, more people would reap the benefits of learning this expressive language.
In addition, research has shown children who use Auslan from an early age exhibit improved language and cognitive development compared to those who don’t. It’s also been found that learning Auslan can improve spatial awareness and even multitasking skills among hearing individuals.
Yet another significant benefit of learning Auslan is the opportunity it creates for the community at large to support DHH children and young people. By familiarising themselves with Auslan, community members at large, can not only communicate effectively with DHH young people, but also create an inclusive culture. This communication is crucial for their engagement in community-based activities like swimming, sport, dance, and the arts, which are not only vital for their physical well-being but also for their social development.
For example, a swimming instructor proficient in Auslan can provide clearer instructions and create a more conducive learning environment for DHH young people, as our Puggles Swim program has illustrated. This inclusivity encourages them to be more involved and feel like an integral part of the community.
Breaking Down Barriers
Learning Auslan can serve as a bridge between the hearing and Deaf community, fostering mutual understanding and respect. This shared means of communication eliminates feelings of isolation and fosters inclusiveness.
For instance, in schools where teachers and students learn Auslan, it ensures DHH students are part of the learning community. In workplaces, it can mean the difference between exclusion and being a valued team member for a deaf employee.
A broader understanding and use of Auslan can lead to higher awareness of the language and the community that uses it. It paves the way for discussions and knowledge-sharing, which, in turn, leads to more inclusive policies and environments. This awareness is critical to remove any stigma or misconceptions associated with the Deaf community.
Auslan in Today’s World
As technology evolves, so does the accessibility of Auslan. Video calls and conferencing tools have made it easier for Auslan users to communicate remotely. Additionally, apps and online resources for learning Auslan have multiplied.
In workplaces, the incorporation of Auslan has proven to be an invaluable tool in creating an inclusive environment. This is not just ethically right but is also beneficial for businesses. A study by the Australian Network on Disability found that inclusive workplaces are more innovative and have higher rates of employee satisfaction.
Auslan as a Stepping Stone for Babies’ Development
Research indicates that sign language is often the first form of language that babies can learn, even before they start speaking. This early learning provides babies with a means to communicate their needs, emotions, and observations, which is pivotal in their overall development.
Interestingly, studies have demonstrated that babies who are taught sign language exhibit superior language development compared to those who don’t. This early exposure to a structured form of communication like Auslan can also contribute to better cognitive and emotional development.
This isn’t only beneficial for DHH children; hearing babies can also reap the advantages of learning Auslan, as it provides them with an enriched environment for language acquisition.
Learning Tools for Auslan
Auslan is not just a language but a gateway to understanding and inclusivity. As we have discussed, it is instrumental in breaking down barriers between the deaf and hearing communities. The growth of technology and products has made it more accessible than ever, and with the abundance of resources available, there is no better time than now to start learning Auslan.
For instance, our Platypus Playhouse range of learning tools, including books, flashcards and finger puppets, to help families build language and connections with their children aged between 0 to 4 years of age.
To learn more about the importance of Auslan and the impact it can have, visit our website.