There’s Australian Sign Language (Auslan) and there’s American Sign Language (ASL)…

Some people mistakenly assume that Australian Sign Language is ASL. Nope.

Australian Sign Language is known as Auslan (a portmanteau).

ASL is American Sign Language (an acronym).

These two languages are completely different.

I can’t stress this enough.

Many countries around the world have their own sign language. In Australia, we have Auslan.

Now, just to add some extra interesting and relevant information, Auslan is part of a sign language family called BANZSL.

BANZSL stands for British, Australian, New Zealand Sign Language. If a sign language user of either of these countries travels between Australia, NZ and Britain, they will find that they can understand many, if not most, of the other country’s signs.

The reason for this is because, many years ago, the British came to Australia and NZ and brought/ taught their sign language (British Sign Language). While Australia and NZ sign language has evolved since that time, all three sign languages can mostly be understood even to this day.

On the other hand (no pun intended), when I went to America when I was 20 years old, I met other Deaf people there. I couldn’t understand ONE sign. Not one. (We got by with gesturing and fingerspelling and the like).

ASL’s signs hails from France. At a fundamental level, Auslan and ASL are different and it starts at fingerspelling. Auslan uses two hands, ASL uses one hand. There is very little commonality between Auslan and ASL. (When googling or YouTubing, always be mindful to look for/type in Auslan, not ASL). Even though these two countries – Australia and America speak English, it’s prudent to not assume that their sign languages will be similar too.