Currently, almost 20,000 people in Australia use Auslan ‘Australian Sign Language’ interpretation to communicate every day, this means they use hands, arm & body movements to deliver the meaning. Just like any other language, Auslan is recognised as a language in its own right and has been recognised as an official language by the Australian Government in 1991. Auslan Interpreting is an essential communication tool for engagement in the society for most Deaf Auslan users. In 2015, there was 1 in 6 Australians with hearing loss, this figure is rising and is expected to become 1 in 4 by 2050, which means 25% of the population could be using Auslan interpretation for work, education, medical appointments, as well as leisure and personal pursuits.
Like other languages, NAATI qualified Auslan interpreters should be used for most interpreting assignments, to deliver the best service. Auslan is uniquely an Australian language, that is not used in other countries, although it could be similar to other sign languages used in other countries, especially British & American sign languages. There are approximately 130 sign languages around the world.
Just because people speak different languages in different countries, so people who are deaf use different sign languages depending on where they come from. Auslan interpretation continues to evolve like other languages do. Auslan does not use English grammatical system, but it has its own independent grammar, which interestingly, has grammatical structure closer to Chinese or French than English. Here’s an example: “I saw a beautiful blonde girl this morning” (English) “Blonde girl beautiful this morning I saw” (Auslan).
Auslan interpreters rely on a combination of 38 hand shapes with 28 variants, with a certain orientation, movements and facial expressions to deliver messages, emotion and emphasis. Auslan is just one of the many ways Australians who are deaf or hearing impaired communicate with each other.