Category Archives: All about Deafness

All about Deafness

Learn Auslan – Pronouns

Learn Auslan pronouns. In Auslan, pronouns are not gender-specific. Mostly, they involve pointing at a person or object.

Vocab:

  • Me (use this for ‘I’ as well)
  • My
  • Mine
  • You
  • Your
  • Yours
  • You’re
  • Here
  • There
  • That/he/she/it (I show three examples of pointing.)

When using these words in conversation, point to the person or thing. If the person or thing is not there, invent a location for them in space and make sure you continue to point to the same spot for the rest of the conversation.

You might notice that it can be pretty hard to understand sign language if you come in on a conversation in the middle. That’s because often a speaker will set up spaces and words at the beginning of a conversation, and then just do a lot of pointing to convey meaning after that.

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.

Learn Auslan – Communication

Here are some signs about communication:

Vocab:

  • Communicate/Conversation
  • Talk
  • Ask
  • Answer
  • Question
  • Say/tell
  • Agree

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.

Learn Auslan – Deafness and sign language

Here are some signs about being deaf and using Auslan (Australian sign language):

There are some words and phrases here that aren’t commonly used in mainstream English.

People who aren’t deaf are referred to as ‘hearing’. Deaf people who don’t use sign language, communicating with speech and lipreading, are described as ‘oral’. I grew up oral and learnt to sign when I was eighteen – this is a common situation for Deaf people in Australia.

Fingerspelling refers to manually spelling out the letters of words. If you don’t know the sign for a word, fingerspell it. In Auslan, fingerspelling is commonly used for names and places. Some words, such as ‘cream’ are always fingerspelled, and the fingerspelled version becomes a sort of ‘sign’ for that word. There are some English words for which there is no equivalent Auslan sign. In this case, you could fingerspell the word, though more fluent signers will usually find a way to visually convey the meaning of the word using Auslan signs.

Lock your voice: since Auslan has its own grammar, trying to speak English while signing can be challenging, and also make your signs difficult to understand. It’s common in Auslan to refer to ‘turning off your voice’ or ‘locking your voice’ which means that you don’t speak – just sign. However, if you are speaking English with a group of hearing people, and there is a Deaf person present, it is polite to sign whatever words you can, even if it’s not using correct Auslan grammar, so that the Deaf person can get an idea of what you are talking about.

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.

Learn Auslan – Transport

Kids love learning and using transport signs:

Vocab:

  • Walk
  • Run
  • Ride a bike
  • Car
  • Drive
  • Train
  • Tram
  • Bus
  • Taxi
  • Plane/fly
  • Airport (sorry, the subtitle says ‘landing’. This sign is used for both ‘landing’ and ‘airport’)
  • Station

Other signs that kids often embrace are colours and foods – they are covered in other lessons. For our next lesson, though, we’ll get back to signs commonly used by adults.

I was a bit over-enthusiastic when signing some of these. While signing like this is not really ‘wrong’ and Deaf people will still understand you, it would be correct to sign ‘run’ with just two rotations of my arm, and ‘ride a bike’ should also be two cycles of pedaling with my fingers, and ‘car’ should be two rotations of my fists. ‘Bus’ should be two twists of the steering wheel. My apologies that these videos aren’t perfect – I hope they’ll still help you learn.

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.

Learn Auslan – Animals

A great way to get children interested in signing is to teach them the signs for animals.

Vocab:

  • Cat
  • Dog (pat your thigh twice)
  • Rabbit
  • Bird/chicken
  • Horse
  • Sheep
  • Cow
  • Giraffe
  • Elephant
  • Lion
  • Monkey
  • Gorilla
  • Dinosaur

In the video I signed ‘prefer’ with several flicks. But really, it should be just two flicks.

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.

Learn Auslan – Signs for babies (and adults too)

It’s quite popular for parents who don’t sign themselves to teach their babies some signs. This means babies can communicate before they are able to speak. This lesson and the next two have signs that are helpful when communicating with young children, though they are also good signs for anyone to know. When I taught in a kindergarten, these were the most helpful words that allowed us to communicate with very young children.

Vocab:

  • Food
  •  Drink
  • Milk
  • More
  • Finish
  • Sleep (I show you two signs for this)
  • Awake/Wake up
  • Yes
  • No

Finish and more are the most useful signs – as these are abstract concepts that children often want to communicate but cannot. At a meal time, always ask if your child has finished, using the sign. If they haven’t, sign ‘more’. When they do finish, confirm it by signing ‘finish’ yourself. By doing this every time, your child will quickly learn the meaning of the words.

I should have included the sign for ‘toilet’. Luckily you don’t need a video for that. It’s just the letter T, fingerspelled twice: ‘TT’.

Learn Auslan – Some words to indicate purpose

Here are some common signs that indicate purpose:

Vocab:

  • Will
  • Won’t
  • Can
  • Can’t
  • Want
  • Don’t want
  • Have
  • Don’t have (here I demonstrate the handshape I’m using)
  • Need
  • Must
  • Should
  • Prefer
  • Because
  • Can’t be bothered (you’ll see that sometimes a whole English phrase is captured with a single sign)

In the video I signed ‘prefer’ with several flicks. But really, it should be just two flicks.

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.

Learn frequently used little words 2 in Auslan – Australian Sign Language

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

Vocab:

  • Look
  • See
  • Right
  • Wrong
  • Help
  • Some
  • Nothing/none/silence
  • Sorry
  • Most
  • Thing

In the video I signed ‘sorry’ with a few too many shakes. Just moving your hand twice will do the job.

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.This entry

Learn Auslan signs when asking questions – Australian Sign Language

Use these Auslan signs when asking questions:

Vocab:

  •  Who
  •  What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why
  • How
  • How much
  • How many
  • Which

In Auslan, the grammar is different from English. When asking a question, the W-word goes last.  For example, when asking ‘When did you eat?”, you would sign ‘YOU EAT WHEN?’ To ask “Where do you live?” you sign ‘YOU LIVE WHERE?’

You’ll notice in these examples that I have omitted ‘did’ and ‘do’. In Auslan, words such as “and”, “to”, “a”, “the”, “it”, “be”, “are” etc. are not used.  Simply delete them from the sentence.

Sometimes in Auslan, the W-word goes both first and last.  This is known as bracing.  E.g. WHO WASH-DISHES WHO?

There is no time when the W-word is first, but not last, the way it is in English.

For this week, practise asking questions.  If you don’t know the signs for the vocab you want to use, fingerspell the words.  By fingerspelling words you don’t know, you create a space in your brain for them, so when you learn the sign for that word you will remember it more easily.

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 TV Series Announcement

You may have seen that my book, Future Girl, is to be adapted for the screen, in partnership with Orange Entertainment Co. This video is a call out to the Deaf community (including CODAs, families, interpreters etc), to find out who would like to be involved in the production.

We want the Deaf community to be involved in in every aspect – acting, writing, filming, editing, directing and on the crew. If you are keen but don’t have the skills yet, that doesn’t matter. We will support you to develop the skills you need. You will then be able to use these skills on other projects.

If you are keen to be involved, please email steph@orangeentertainment.co and let us know what you would like to do. If you want to be on the team of writers, send examples of your writing.