Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

[Auslan] Just Sign Here: Building Bridges with Auslan

Hi, everyone. This year, 2015, is the year
that Auslan has become popular. People are spreading the word
all over Australia. I represented Western Australia
at the national Australia Day awards in Canberra. And I was thrilled and proud
when it was announced that I had won the
Young Australian of the Year Award. I felt really proud on behalf
of the Australian Deaf community, and on behalf of those deaf people
who have, over the years, fought to have the community
and its language recognised. With this award, the Australian
Deaf community and Auslan has received the attention
it deserves. It’s been a number of months
since I’ve received my award, and my schedule is hectic. At the present moment,
I’m working part-time, studying the diploma of interpreting and also fulfilling
my responsibilities as Young Australian of the Year, so there is a lot to do. As a result of winning, I received
a lovely trophy, a memento, and I came home to many emails asking
me to attend events and meetings in my capacity
as Young Australian of the Year. Unfortunately, there is
no financial assistance received as part of the award, so often when I receive requests, I have to inform them of the
financial limitations that I have. The day after I received my award,
I flew to Sydney for the Australia Day
fireworks celebrations, and I had opportunity
to meet some lovely people. I met Emma, from The Wiggles.
She’s the one that dresses in yellow. She’s learning Auslan
and she loves to incorporate Auslan into The Wiggles’s
stage performances. The media coverage has,
and continues to be, a great opportunity
to show the Australian community that deaf people are successful
and Auslan is important. I have been lucky enough to be part of a fashion shoot
for ‘Marie Claire’, and may soon be in an edition
of the ‘Women’s Weekly’. I’ve also been fortunate to meet with
some very well-known Australians. I’ve met the Veronicas,
an Australian rock duo, and also Justin Langer,
a well-known cricketer. And I’m hoping that they can help me
to promote Auslan. Adam Goodes,
the AFL Sydney Swans player and Australian of the Year for 2014, picked up some Auslan signs
very easily when I met him, so I hope he goes on to learn more. I have the privilege of writing
a monthly column about my experiences for a local Western Australian
lifestyle magazine called ‘Primo Life’. It’s called ‘Drisana’s Diary’ and it outlines my 2015 journey
as Young Australian of the Year. As part of my voluntary work, I have meetings with various
organisations and businesses to talk to them about how to improve
access for deaf people, promote Auslan, and provide inclusion
for members of the Deaf community, so that bridges are built
between deaf and wider communities. My aim this year is to promote Auslan
and to raise its profile, and it’s amazing to see
how many people are keen to learn. Many of the TAFE and Deaf Society
Auslan courses are full, and people are now on a waiting list,
eager to learn sign language. The other message
that I want to impart is about a deaf child’s human right
to learn sign language from birth. We, as a community, need to make sure
that we are telling our government about the important benefits
of learning Auslan from an early age. When a baby is diagnosed as deaf,
parents receive much information. We need to ensure
information about Auslan is included. Parents need to meet deaf people,
to see them as role models, and to show them that deaf people
have successful lives. I mean, we know this is true, but many parents
of newly diagnosed babies have never met a deaf person before,
so they don’t know. I recently toured around
Western Australia, talking to people about the awards. About who I am, what I stand for,
and my advocacy work. And encouraged them to support me. And I hope to be involved
in a national tour soon. I’m also looking forward to speaking at the World Federation of the Deaf
congress in Turkey, where I’ll be talking about
Frontrunners. Frontrunners is an international deaf
youth leadership training program. So, you can support me
in promoting Auslan to the wider Australian community. Encourage your friends and family
to learn Auslan, to be a part of our community. After all, Australian sign language
belongs here in Australia, and belongs to all Australian people. I am really excited about this year,
and my work in raising awareness and promoting a positive image
of deafness, and I am looking forward
to you joining me on my journey in promoting our beautiful language,
Auslan. Bye for now.

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