Category Archives: Learn Auslan Online

Learn Auslan – Level 1 – Creative Life

Here are some signs about living creatively:


• Art
• Design
• Idea
• Make
• Paper
• Pen
• Pencil
• Draw/paint
• Papier mache
• Sew (by hand)
• Sew (with a machine)
• Knit (this is the letter ‘F’, rubbed together. I should have actually rubbed only twice, not several times.)
• Story
• Book (I should have signed this with just two openings of the book, not three).

Learn Auslan – Level 1 – Colours

Learn how to sign the colours:


• Red
• Blue (sorry, I hesitated after this sign, I was going to sign ‘green’ – my hand movements there are not a proper sign!)
• Yellow
• Green
• Orange (this is also the sign for the fruit, ‘orange’)
• Purple
• Pink
• Black
• White
• Grey
• Gold
• Silver

Just another day battling Deaf discrimination

Hello M,

I was disappointed by your email. Do you know what it’s like for me, as a Deaf person, to repeatedly ask to join courses, retreats, programmes, seminars, conferences, and schools, only to be told, ‘We do not have a programme to suit your particular needs’?

Of course you don’t have a programme to suit my needs! Our society is not encouraged to think about access. Organisations don’t routinely think about how they can ensure their programme will be accessible to everyone. No. It’s up to us to ask. That’s why I emailed you instead of just enrolling and showing up like others have the privilege of doing. Although the law specifies that you are obliged to provide me with access, at your own cost, in reality, that rarely happens. I understand this. So instead of asking you to provide access, I made up some solutions for you.

I suggested that I bring along a friend who would interpret for me (at my own cost, not yours – the only inconvenience to you would be that she’d be standing in the room waving her arms about), and that to ensure the trip was worth her while, I’d miss out on half the sessions being interpreted. For these sessions I asked you for a print-out of the guided meditations. I figured you’d probably already have a script for this so it might not be too hard for you.

Knowing that you have probably never considered how to accomodate a Deaf person before, I made it easy for you. The single thing you needed to do to accomodate me was provide a print-out. Other than that, you would need to tolerate the annoyingness of me and my Deafness.

However, even that was too much for you. You graciously conceded that I might come for ONE NIGHT (you will be kind enough to put up with me for that long), and pay $95 for the privilege of doing so, unlike the rate that my friend Rose pays you when she attends, which she tells me is $35 per night.

I’m glad to hear that you are happy to ‘assist in any way that we can’. How about assisting in the very way that I asked you to? By tolerating the inconvenience of my Deafness (which is somewhat more inconvenient to me than to you, I might point out), and providing a print-out? Oh, and welcoming me for as long as I would like to stay, at the rate others pay?

Yours sincerely,

(Thank you for your blessings of peace, joy and inspiration. Right now I’m not feeling especially blessed, peaceful, joyful nor inspired, as I write yet another email to yet another person who has routinely excluded me because I am Deaf.)

Learn Auslan – Level 1 – Making sense, visually

Auslan is a language that needs to make sense, visually. In the last lesson, ‘egg’ is an example of a sign that is altered depending on context, in order to make sense, visually.

Auslan signs tend to be based on what things look like, rather than how they sound. In English, some words have multiple meanings, such as the word “cross”. It can refer to the shape of a cross, to feeling cross, to crossing the road. Each of these contexts is signed differently in Auslan.

Consider the following words in different contexts:

  • Train (can mean to practise, or to catch a train)
  • Seesaw (you need to show this visually – don’t sign the word for ‘see’ followed by ‘saw’/’see in-the-past’)
  • Park (this can be a playground or a place to park your car)
  • Can of drink (don’t sign the word ‘can’ (the opposite of ‘can’t’) – instead use the specific sign for soft drink)
  • Wake up (with this, you show your eyes opening – there is no need to add the sign for ‘up’)

When you are signing, stop regularly and ask yourself if your signs make sense, visually. A lot of English words and phrases don’t make sense visually, and they need to be altered when you are signing.

Jokes in English that are funny because of a play on words often don’t make sense in Auslan. Jokes in Auslan often rely on visual ideas and facial expression to convey humour.

Learn Auslan – Level 1 – Food 2

Here are some more signs about food:


• Bread
• Milk
• Cheese
• Fruit
• Vegetables (fingerspell VEG)
• Meat
• Fish
• Egg
• Butter

‘Vegetables’ is one of those signs that is routinely fingerspelled, albeit in a shortened version: VEG.

The sign I showed you for ‘egg’ refers to cracking the top off a boiled egg with a spoon. It’s also often used for raw egg, though technically that’s incorrect (people don’t use a spoon to take the top off a raw egg!) – for that reason, many people will fingerspell ‘egg’ if they are talking about a raw egg. There are different signs for scrambled egg and fried egg, which mime the cooking process.