Switch your voice off in order to ‘hear’ Auslan.

This is the first rule established by my teacher in my Auslan class. All communication must be visual, no sound.

For someone who is profoundly deaf and skilled at lipreading this seemed easy. Yet I’ve quickly discovered how hard it is when you want to communicate but do not have the vocabulary to do so. This makes me even more determined to continue my work on Auslan in the Scientific World.

For the past seven weeks I have been learning Auslan as a part of the Sign Language 1 course. This course has been so much fun!

The first ten minutes we drew the letters of our name in the sky. Quickly we progressed to fingerspelling – fingerspelling is using 26 different hand configurations to spell out each of the 26 letters of the English alphabet. Once we had fingerspelling practiced and could each spell our name, we moved onto learning single signs to represent an entire word or sometimes phrase. Some signs in Auslan are intuitive- many sports, for example, are signed by doing the action associated with that sport. Other signs are much more complex and the result of many years of shared Deaf culture and language building.

Learning Auslan has challenged and inspired me to connect with my Deaf culture. In order to communicate in Auslan effectively you must embody the story and express yourself visually. The space in front of you is your canvas. You can use movement in this space to represent the here, now and past of what you want to say. Auslan is an incredibly rich language and I am excited to learn more. Our teacher showed us this video in our second class- have a watch and see if you understand.

Following each and every class, I walk out into the hustle and bustle of York St and find my mouth locked, the rule of switching your voice off, lingering.

I have a lot more to learn and can’t wait to start Sign Language 2! Interested in finding out more about Auslan yourself? Find information about Auslan beginner courses here.

Feature image credit: Emma Frances Logan. 

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