Engagement and appropriate consultation with the local Deaf community in an ethical, respectful and sustainable manner is the cornerstone of respectful Auslan program development and key to a successful Auslan teaching program. Deaf people are the custodians of their language. Consultation with native or native-like and proficient users of Auslan who have ownership of the language is strongly recommended as a special consideration for Auslan programs, to ensure the language is taught in a contextually and culturally correct manner. Teaching Auslan without due consideration of/ liaison with the Deaf community may result in linguistic and cultural appropriation and the disenfranchisement of deaf people.

Issues to consider

  • the presence of deaf students within the school environment, for whom the provision of an L1 or L2 Auslan program would be of academic, social, emotional and vocational benefit
  • the proportion of Deaf teachers, mentors, language models and Deaf community members in the region, and available access to them
  • the availability of skilled and appropriate personnel for teaching Auslan, such as qualified Auslan instructors/language teachers, and the capacity to team teach in deaf/hearing teams as needed in a culturally sensitive manner
  • the possibility of excursions to Deaf community events and the development of ongoing relationships with community members (such as Deaf seniors) to support pedagogy and to build and perpetuate mutual understanding and connections for the benefit of students and the community
  • the three-dimensional visual-spatial nature of Auslan means that it is ideally taught in a face-to-face context. ICT will play an important role in providing access to a variety of signers and signed texts, however, particularly for rural and remote learners
  • the range of cross-cultural considerations that need to be addressed when working in and teaching Auslan in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The teaching team should consult the local community about particular topics, local context and relevant cultural considerations, so that offence and embarrassment can be avoided
  • the importance of promoting further research of Auslan and the development, collection and digitisation of quality texts, teaching materials, resources and assessment and reporting tools for teaching purposes
  • the need for investment in the professional development of suitable Auslan teachers to meet future anticipated interest and demand in Auslan programs in schools; and for recognition of the fact that the success of Auslan programs depends on the fundamental premise that suitably skilled and qualified teachers, including native or native-like proficient users of Auslan, have key roles in their development and implementation
  • schools enrolling deaf and hard of hearing students on the same site may wish to consider offering both L1 and L2 Auslan pathways or a blend of the two as needed. Authentic opportunities for deaf, hard of hearing and hearing peers to engage with each other, either face to face or via technology, allows L2 students to practise language in a real-world context. Such practice benefits for hearing students transfer to deaf students by broadening their peer network, increasing communication across the school and over several year levels for the deaf students, and potentially have social, emotional, cultural, psychological, academic and vocational benefits for all students in the program.

For more specific guidance and to connect with the Deaf community, contact the national peak body representing the needs and interests of Auslan users, Deaf Australia, or the relevant state association.

First language F-10

First language 7-10

Second language F-10

Second language 7-10

Auslan learning area contacts:

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