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Sign language is at the centre of Deaf culture and community, and is the single most unifying characteristic.

In Australia, the Deaf community’s language is Auslan (Australian Sign Language). If a person can show that they understand Auslan’s value for Deaf people, Deaf people will help them to learn it.

People who do not value Auslan are unlikely to feel comfortable or accepted within Australian Deaf culture. It is not necessary to be fully fluent in Auslan, but what is necessary is acceptance and respect for Auslan as a language in its own right.

People who are deaf often use Auslan in the Deaf community and English in the hearing community to varying degrees of fluency.

They live and work with hearing people within the hearing community and with Deaf people in the Deaf community.

In the hearing community, they often struggle with discrimination, prejudice and misunderstanding, while living rich and fulfilling social, sporting and cultural lives within the Deaf community. Still, they manage successfully to balance life between both these communities, with varying degrees.

Almost 20,000 people use Auslan to communicate every day, yet this uniquely Australian language remains much of a mystery.

You can find information to help you understand more about Auslan and deaf people who communicate through signing below.