In Queensland there can be some confusion about the path for learning Auslan.
I hope to offer an unbiased (but not necessarily comprehensive) description here that will provide some clarity around how this can look for people and suggest some options along the way.
I used to work for Deaf Connect (previously Deaf Services) for 5 years.
I know that some courses have changed since my time with them; the information below is the best to my knowledge (as anything new unfolds, I will endeavour to update this blog accordingly).
If you want to learn Australian Sign Language (Auslan) there are a few ways to approach this.
If you have an NDIS plan and communication/language acquisition is a goal, then your funds can help you/and your family to access Auslan at Home programs (AAH). The biggest provider of this is Deaf Connect but this service is in high demand and it’s my understanding that the waitlist is considerable (think months).
There are numerous independent Deaf businesses that offer this service, their availability might be more flexible. This generally looks like 1-2 hour sessions weekly or once a fortnight. The tutor will go through basic signs that you/your family will likely use and help you build your confidence with learning and using Auslan at home.
There are some online courses you may consider; as long as you can access reliable internet and a computer/laptop/phone, you can learn Auslan.
Awesome Auslan (me) offers an online beginners Auslan course. Like Lisa, this course is self-paced. This online learning platform differs in the following ways: it covers Deaf culture and awareness, explicitly teaches some important linguistic features of Auslan and provides PDFs and activities to reinforce any learning. Access to this course is unlimited. All the videos have voice-over and subtitles included if needed.
Lisa Mills also offers an online course with basic Auslan signs. This is a self-paced, simple course and Lisa speaks throughout (she is hard of hearing herself). These signs are useful for basic understanding of Auslan. I think there’s 12 months access and certificate of participation is provided upon completion.
Asphyxia provides some signs to learn on YouTube. These are free and clear and easy to understand. She is also an author and artist. (One of her books “Future Girl” has been flagged to be a TV series!!!). Check her out!
Alternatively, you can enrol in Introduction to Auslan. This is a community class that is offered by Deaf Connect. This is often an 8-week course that follows school terms. These are often face-to-face and sessions run weekly for 2 to 2.5 hours. I understand that two levels of Introduction to Auslan are now on offer. These suit people who want to learn enough Auslan to communicate at a basic level with a Deaf person/Auslan user. This is not an accredited course. You may receive a certificate of participation. This is a good stepping stone to commence Certificate II – an accredited course.
If you want to gain qualifications in Auslan, you have the option of starting Certificate II. To my knowledge, Deaf Connect is the only Registered Training Organisation in Queensland that offers this. (Southbank Brisbane TAFE used to offer an equivalent but a long time ago). The first few weeks often cover the same/similar signs/content covered in Introduction to Auslan. This course is a 6-month course – generally 4-5 hours per week. This course is presently heavily subsidised by the government on account that there is a national shortage of Auslan/English interpreters.
Once you complete Cert II, there’s Cert III (6-months) and Cert IV (6-months) then you have the option of going on to Diploma of Auslan (9-months) and/then Diploma of Interpreting (9-months). The standard for Diplomas are high, and interviews are conducted to decide if your skill level is sufficient to enter into these courses.
If you go all the way to Diploma of Interpreting, the next step to become a qualified Auslan/English interpreter is to sit and pass the NAATI accreditation process. This means you become a fully qualified interpreter (there are currently 300-400 Australia-wide and there is an urgent need for more).
If you want to get start with your journey into Auslan, we highly recommend starting with some beginner courses like the ones that we have on offer. Just click on the button below to find out more about our courses.
As a Deaf person who has used, loved, and continued to learn Auslan throughout my life, it was when I started studying the Diploma of Auslan (Deaf cohort 2018) that I was awestruck by how beautifully complex Auslan is.