Australian Sign Language1 (Auslan) is the language used by the Deaf community of Australia. The term Auslan is an acronym of “Australian Sign Language”, coined by Trevor Johnston in the early 1980s, although the language itself is much older.

Auslan’s grammar and vocabulary is quite distinct from English. Its development cannot be attributed to any individual; rather, it is a natural language that developed organically over time2.

Auslan is a visual-spatial language that uses hands, eye gaze, facial expressions and arm, head and body postures to communicate. Auslan has its own syntax and grammar, and is not based on English. Precise handshapes, facial expressions and body movements convey both concrete and abstract information.


Recognition of Auslan

Auslan was recognised by the Australian government as a “community language other than English” and the preferred language of the Deaf community in policy statements in 19873 and 19914. Auslan is also recognised in the Victorian Government Language Services Policy5 as a community language.

For more information, we recommend this Wikipedia article as a starting point.