Living with Deafblindness


Auslan is the sign language of the Australian Deaf Community. The term Auslan is an acronym of “Australian sign language”.

The language shares similarities with British & New Zealand Sign Languages and has also been influenced by Irish and American sign languages. Its establishment and development can initially be attributed to the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children and the Victorian College for the Deaf in the 1800’s.

Auslan’s vocabulary and grammar are distinct from the english language and like other languages, evolves over time and changes with use. There are also minor variations in vocabulary across the country.

The number of people for whom Auslan is their primary or preferred language is difficult to determine. A 2006 census showed over 7000 Australians used Auslan.

Deafblind users of Auslan will usually be Australian or have learned to sign in Australia. Deafblind users of sign language elsewhere will usually use the native sign language of their country.

Due to limitations in their vision, deafblind sign language users may require adaptations and modifications to their viewing environment to maximise visibility of the signs. When vision is not adequate to see signs, tactile modifications or methods may be used.