We must take action to improve access to Auslan for Deaf children in infancy, support hearing families in their efforts to learn it, expect educational institutions to embrace Auslan as a first language for Deaf children, and promote it as a valuable second language for teaching in schools to hearing children. Literacy isn’t just the ability to read and write, but to apply critical thinking to the written word. Teaching and acquiring literacy to prepare for a competitive employment market is vital. Quality education in the early years is key to improving an individual’s inherent, unique potential.
The Government can:
provide information to new parents (and ongoing support) about the benefits of introducing Deaf children to Auslan
start an elective study of Auslan in school curricula
provide real-time Auslan interpreting and captioning services for customers in government and business shopfronts, health and welfare services, which would have flow-on effect to corporate Australia
include Auslan and captions in electronic government communications, which would set the standard for commercial businesses
A viable, accredited Auslan interpreting and captioning service sector is crucial. There are established Australian companies that can provide these services, both on-site and remotely online. However, there is a shortage of qualified interpreters. Captioning, a growing service industry, would benefit from professional development programs and standards.