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Auslan is much like any other language in the world, such as French, or German. It has its own grammatical structure, alphabet, vocabulary, and culture. The Australian deaf community, the group that use Auslan, are just like every other group of people, who not only have their own method of communication, but also their own way of life.
Gabrielle is an Ability Options participant who uses Auslan to communicate with others on a daily basis. For Gabrielle, knowing Auslan means a lot to her, as it not only allows her to ‘communicate with people in different situations,’ but it also allows her to engage and share her perspectives with the outside world, making it a part of her identity.
Auslan has made a difference in the way Gabrielle sees the world. She feels more confident in meeting hearing people and has ‘no problem in trying to communicate with them.’ Since Auslan is not used by everyone, there are times when Gabrielle has to use different methods to try and get her message across to other people. Methods, such as using facial expressions, lip reading, and writing messages or notes on both paper and her phone, allow Gabrielle to help those who don’t understand her to understand what she is trying to say.
Today, Auslan is being used everywhere across Australia by both hearing and non-hearing people in many different settings, including press conferences, cultural events, and educational institutions. Gabrielle would like people ‘to be more aware of the deaf community’ and what it means to be deaf.
Gabrielle recommends those who want to learn Auslan or have a better understanding of the deaf community, to take up courses in both Sign Language and the deaf culture, which aim to both teach and immerse people in both Auslan and the deaf community and culture, giving them the opportunity to not only learn something new, but to also help them to appreciate the community’s achievements and contributions to society.
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