Oops! Common Mistakes With Sourcing Auslan Signs

The number of well-intentioned parents and grandparents who come up to me and proudly tell me that they are learning sign language and using it with their children/grandchildren is very encouraging.

Although, this excitement can often turn to dismay and concern when they proceed to proudly show me the ASL signs they’ve unwittingly been learning (most commonly MORE and FRIENDS).

This experience is not unique to me. A number of speech therapists and audiologists have mentioned that they have also had the same experience.

As I’ve said in another blog*, while Australia and the USA both speak English, their signed languages share barely any commonality.

*(See blog: We Are Not The Same: Australian Sign Language (Auslan) and American Sign Language (ASL))

One reason this happens is that some people don’t know or don’t realise that signed languages are different all over the world. A quick google or YouTube search for ‘sign language’ will often bring up ASL (American content) as they have developed a mass of videos and resources over the years.

As well as this, when people search Google or YouTube for ‘Baby Signs’, they do not realise that the signs used in these programs are often from America and/or strongly ASL-based.

Here in Australia, I often recommend to parents of deaf children that instead of searching for ‘Baby Signs’, to instead look up ‘KWSA’ – Key Word Signs Australia – (previously known as Makaton). 

KWSA uses basic signs borrowed from Auslan to aid in their communication system. Also, many baby sign resources online are American. Unless it specifies ‘Auslan’ or being Australian, be alert.

Many parents have also mentioned they are learning their signs from YouTuber ‘Ms. Rachel’; however, she is American and uses ASL. 

We are fortunate though to have an Aussie educator on YouTube – our very own ‘Ms Moni’.

Ms Moni uses Key Word Signs Australia occasionally on her educational YouTube channel and videos. She checks in with Awesome Auslan to make sure her signs are correct before she uses them in her videos. She is also mindful and respectful of the Deaf culture and language with which she borrows and shares the language.

Ways to combat incorrectly learning another language is to make sure your search specifically includes the word ‘Auslan’.

Also, follow authentic Auslan social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram etc.) and have a look at who they are following. This is a good way to discover more sources of Auslan signs and support dDeaf/HoH content creators.

And, of course, get involved in the Deaf and Auslan communities near you.

Hope you found this handy and keep up your Awesome Auslan!Disclaimer This information is entirely subjective and based on my personal experience, interpretation and understanding of the subject matter.