Category Archives: All about Deafness

All about Deafness

Learn frequently used little words in Auslan – Australian Sign Language

Here are some Auslan signs that are often used in conversation:

Vocab:

  • Same
  • Different
  • Again
  • Maybe/or
  • Lots/too much
  • But
  • For
  • Go
  • Come
  •  With

This post is part of my free online Auslan course. See the rest of the course here.

To learn more about what it is really like to be Deaf, details about the Deaf community and how Auslan is used by Deaf people, read my book, Future Girl.

Greetings

The signs in this video will help you learn to greet a deaf person.

This is the vocab I’ve shown you:

  • Hello
  • My
  • Name
  • How are you? (this is one sign)
  • Good
  • Bad
  • So’s so
  • Alright
  • Hot
  • Cold
  • Tired
  • Please/thank you (use this sign for both please and thank you)

You’ll notice my facial expression changes with each sign.  Facial expression is very important in Auslan – practise using appropriate expressions for your signs.

With a friend, practise greeting each other in Auslan.  Introduce yourself and fingerspell your name.  Through the next week, notice when you feel any of the above feelings, and do that sign to yourself.

This post is part of my free online Auslan course. See the rest of the course here.

To learn more about what it is really like to be Deaf, details about the Deaf community and how Auslan is used by Deaf people, read my book, Future Girl.

Amazing History About The Deaf Community

Robert Adam is a well known Australian Deaf man who currently lives in the UK. Robert, or RA, as we sign his name, was my very first Auslan teacher, and from the moment I walked into his class, I was hooked on the language. It was he who gave me my name sign because in calling the class roll, he could never fingerspell my name. So he substituted it with a choking motion, and there we have it – my name sign that is still with me today. I feel privileged to have a name sign bestowed upon me from such an awesome person.

Another memory from my Auslan class is that halfway through, RA found out I was deaf. He was beyond excited. ‘Why didn’t you tell me?!’ he demanded.

I was stunned. ‘Was it important?’ I had spent my life, up until that point, hiding my deafness, and trying to pass as hearing.

‘Of course, it’s important!’ he declared. And from that moment on he took it upon himself to take me under his wing and introduce me to the other Deaf teachers at the course, to people in the Deaf community. This was my first taste ever of having a Deaf passport.

I get it now. From his perspective, I was a young oral student who had never been exposed to sign language, and now that I had finally discovered it, I needed to be inducted into the Deaf community, and that was his task. And I am so glad he took it seriously.

Today I am a proud member of the Deaf community and I wouldn’t dream of trying to hide my Deafness nor try to pass as hearing. And my life is so much better for it. And so much better for embracing Auslan, a language that RA introduced me to and which I still love passionately today.

Anyway, I came across this video online the other day and I thought you might like to watch it. Here RA talks about the rich history of the Deaf community, the community that is now mine. He tells some funny stories about his upbringing – especially about his ‘magic’ grandma who turned out to be hearing.

Phrases for medical staff and paramedics

This lesson is a big one, and teaches several questions medical practitioners such as paramedics and doctors can ask their patients. If you haven’t already, make sure you’ve mastered the vocab in the previous three lessons.

Below, in lower case letters, I’ve written the English equivalent of the questions / statements. In capital letters, I show the signs used.

  • I’m a nurse ME NURSE
  • I’m a doctor ME DOCTOR
  • I’m a medical student ME MEDICAL STUDENT
  • I’m an ambulance officer ME WORK AMBULANCE 
  • I want to help you. HELP YOU ME WANT 
  • Why did you call an ambulance? YOU CALL AMBULANCE WHY? 
  • Tell me your medical history – asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, stroke, heart attack? YOUR MEDICAL HISTORY WHAT? YOU HAVE ASTHMA, EPILEPSY, DIABETES, STROKE, HEART ATTACK PAST? 
  • Do you take any regular medication? MEDICINE YOU TAKE REGULAR? 
  • Do you have pain? PAIN YOU HAVE? 
  • Where is the pain? PAIN WHERE? 
  • Can you describe the pain: crushing, tight, sharp, stabbing, burning? TELL ME OVER PAIN. CRUSH, TIGHT, SHARP, STAB, BURN? YOU FEEL WHAT? 
  • When did the pain start? PAIN START WHEN? 
  • What makes the pain better? ANYTHING YOU DO HELP IMPROVE PAIN?
  • What makes the pain worse? ANYTHING YOU DO UN-IMPROVE/LOWER PAIN? 
  • Have you taken anything to try and treat the pain? YOU FINISH TAKE MEDICINE FOR PAIN? 
  • Could you rate the pain on a scale of 1-10. 1 being good and bad being 10. I WANT KNOW HOW BAD YOUR PAIN. PRETEND 1 MEAN GOOD, (DRAW PAIN-LINE) 10 MEAN TERRIBLE, WORSE EVER, YOU WHERE-ON-LINE? 
  • Can you walk? WALK CAN YOU? 
  • When did you last have something to eat or drink? YOU LAST EAT DRINK WHEN? 
  • Have you had any water? WATER YOU DRINK-FINISH? 
  • I’m going to put a needle in your arm so that I can give you some medications, is that alright? ME INJECT-YOU, WHY? GIVE MEDICINE. OK? 
  • Do you have health insurance? HEALTH INSURANCE YOU HAVE? 
  • Would you like to go to the private or public hospital? HOSPITAL YOU WANT PUBLIC OR PRIVATE WHICH?

This post is part of my free online Auslan course. See the rest of the course here.

To learn more about what it is really like to be Deaf, details about the Deaf community and how Auslan is used by Deaf people, read my book, Future Girl.

Medical 2

These are some more health signs that can be used by health practitioners, doctors and paramedics. Learn these to prepare for the upcoming lesson in which we’ll use them to ask questions of patients.

  • asthma
  • epilepsy
  • diabetes
  • stroke
  • heart attack
  • AIDS
  • schizophrenia
  • doctor
  • nurse
  • allergy 

This post is part of my free online Auslan course. See the rest of the course here.

To learn more about what it is really like to be Deaf, details about the Deaf community and how Auslan is used by Deaf people, read my book, Future Girl.

2021 – a disabled artist created and managed exhibition

A little while ago I was invited to submit work for 2021, an exhibition that is 100% Disabled artist-created and managed, which displays works of disabled representatives from various parts of the community – LGBTQI+, First Nations, Neurodiverse, dDeaf, Regional. The exhibition is finally live online and well worth a look. I really love the curator’s notes that accompany each piece.

Check it out here.

These are the pieces I submitted. For details about them and to buy, check out the exhibition.

Medical 1

These are some more health signs that can be used by health practitioners, doctors and paramedics. Learn these to prepare for the upcoming lesson in which we’ll use them to ask questions of patients.

  • pain
  • pain (a small area)
  • temperature
  • high temperature
  • normal
  • improve
  • nausea
  • vomit
  • blood
  • injection
  • faint 

This post is part of my free online Auslan course. See the rest of the course here.

To learn more about what it is really like to be Deaf, details about the Deaf community and how Auslan is used by Deaf people, read my book, Future Girl.

Future Girl is being published in America and Canada

A particularly exciting part of my journey with Future Girl has been working with publisher Annick, based in Canada, who will publish Future Girl in North America. For their readers, they have chosen a new title, The Words in My Hands. The book is coming out in September, and I am thrilled to know my readership is becoming international.

I was touched to read what Annick said about the book: ‘Sometimes—rarely—a book’s power is such that on turning the last page you find there is so much to say about it that you don’t know where to start. You sit with it for a while, it stays with you long after you’ve finished it, you come back to it again to think about it some more. The Words in My Hands is one of those rare finds, and Annick Press is proud to be publishing it this fall.’

Working with Annick has been very interesting. They initially proposed a different title, which I liked but wasunhappy with because it was a bit abstract, meaning it would be difficult to sign. Having a book about Deafness that is hard for Deaf people to talk about seemed like a really bad idea. Eventually I brought this up with Annick and was thrilled that they were happy to rethink and keep brainstorming until we had a title that we all liked, and which signs beautifully.

For North American readers, this meant changing the spelling of words to the American version, and also Americanising some of the words. This was a fascinating process because I discovered a whole lot of words that are in common use here, which the editors either weren’t sure of the meaning of! I discovered that ‘wagging school’ is an Australian phenomenon and that Americans ‘skip school’, and that while we talk about ‘telling someone off’, in America they don’t use that phrase at all. Where we say ‘petrol,’ they say ‘gas,’ and where we say ‘gas bottle,’ they say ‘propane cannister.’ And the word, ‘chook’ is only used in Australia – Americans might not even know what a chook is! The word ‘tram’ isn’t in use there – they suggested ‘sidecar,’ but I couldn’t picture any Melbourne teenager saying they caught the sidecar home from school! So we had to work out a compromise, working out how to keep the Melbourne/Australian flavour of the book while still making it a seamless and easy read for North American audiences.

So, come September, or ‘fall’, as they say over there, tell your American friends to watch out for The Words in My Hands. In the meantime, the book is available as Future Girl here in Australia.

Frequently used little words 3

This video is another funny mix of signs I realised I should have taught you earlier, such as ‘bullshit’ with the impolite stuff, and ‘brown’ with the colours. Oh well – better late than never.

  • light
  • dark
  • fix
  • bullshit
  • hero
  • war
  • brown

This post is part of my free online Auslan course. See the rest of the course here.

To learn more about what it is really like to be Deaf, details about the Deaf community and how Auslan is used by Deaf people, read my book, Future Girl.