What Is An Auslan Interpreter? – Speak Your Language

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What Is An Auslan Interpreter?

Posted on: March 16, 2022 by admin

What Is Auslan?

Auslan is short for Australian sign language and it is used to communicate with Australians who are deaf or have hearing impairments. Like other sign languages, Auslan uses hand movements and facial expressions to convey meaning.


What Is An Auslan Interpreter?

An Auslan interpreter is somebody who is fluent in both English and Auslan. They are able to facilitate communication between a person who is deaf and another person who only speaks English.

The role of an Auslan interpreter is to interpret everything that is said in English into Auslan and vice versa without adding or omitting anything. As with any interpreter, their role is to interpret communication from one language to another while trying to keep the original meaning of the message.

Auslan interpreters are required in various contexts including classrooms, workplaces, medical and legal settings. They can be used to allow students who are deaf to participate in lessons delivered in English and help communication between deaf people and their health providers.


What Is Deafblind Interpreting?

Deafblind interpreting is a specific type of interpreting used to assist communication between people who are both deaf/blind and English speakers. Deafblind interpreting must be customised depending on the specific needs of the individual and various techniques are available depending on the level of vision.

Visual Frame Interpreting

Visual frame interpreting is for people with a vision that is restricted to a small area due to central or peripheral vision loss. The signing is contained within a small visual frame so the hands can remain within the frame of sight. It may also be slowed down to facilitate comprehension.


Tactile Interpreting

For people with little to no vision, tactile interpreting is used. The hands of the deafblind person are placed on top of the hands of the interpreter so that they can feel the signs being made by the interpreter. Some Auslan signs must be adapted so that they can be understood in a tactile interpretation.


How To Become An Auslan Interpreter?

The first step to becoming an Auslan English interpreter is to be fluent in both languages. While most Australians with normal hearing are already fluent in English, becoming fluent in Auslan may require formal education. The most common way to learn Auslan is through a formal setting via TAFE. However, practice and immersion in the deaf community are usually required to reach fluency.


Once fluency in both languages is achieved, a NAATI (National Accreditation Authority For Translators And Interpreters) certification is required to work as an Auslan interpreter. In order to pass the NAATI examination, interpreters must demonstrate that they have sufficient fluency in both languages, an understanding of the cultural, linguistic and social issues within the deaf community. The process of becoming a NAATI accredited Auslan interpreter can take around 3-6 years, depending on the individual’s Auslan fluency and experience.


Difference Between An Auslan Interpreter And Interpreter

In many ways, Auslan-English interpreting works in the same way as interpreting for spoken languages. There are some differences due to the unique nature of the Auslan language. These include:

Practical Considerations

During spoken language interpreting, the interpreter usually sits next to the non-English speaking person or in between the two speakers. In Auslan interpreting, the interpreter sits opposite the Auslan user and next to the English speaker so that they can see both the interpreter and the speaker (view the Auslan translation concurrently with the English speaker’s facial expressions). During a group address, the Auslan interpreter will usually stand next to the speaker so the deaf audience members can see the interpreter and the English speaker at the same time.


While Auslan and spoken language interpreters both work across many of the same contexts (medical, legal and government settings),. Auslan interpreters also commonly work in contexts where spoken language interpreters are rarely found including classrooms and community events. This is to ensure these contexts don’t discriminate against people with disabilities.

The use of sign language is diverse, meaning that interpreters must adapt to the preferences of the deaf person. There are various different ways to communicate other than standard Auslan, including signed in English (signs closely replicate English grammar), signed English (sign replicates English) and Indigenous sign language (unique language used by deaf people with an Indigenous background).


Auslan interpreting is a highly complex skill that requires years of training and experience. Auslan interpreters can work with deaf people across various contexts to facilitate equal access participation through clear communication. Contact Speak Your Language today for all your Auslan interpreting enquires.