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What is Auslan? What is Captioning? What’s the Difference?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 10:13:07 AM Australia/Melbourne

Did you know that Australia has its own version of sign language? It’s aptly called Australian Sign Language (shocker) or Auslan for short. There are more than 20,000 hearing impaired individuals across the continent who utilize Auslan as their first language of choice. Similar to other versions of sign language, Auslan has its own grammar, it has its own lexicon, and it has its own syntax. One notable standout? Those using Auslan will tend to have enthusiastic facial expressions. Facial expressions play a large role in Auslan. With them, those with hearing impairments are much better equipped to properly share the tone of the message that they’re trying to get across.


Let’s break down Auslan a little bit. There is a morphology and if we’re getting specific, there are also six parameters. The six parameters are expression, orientation, location, movement, hard and shape. Also important to call out- although Auslan does use the English alphabet, which makes the most sense if you’re spelling out a location or a name of someone that you’re talking about, it’s not technically English. If you look further into the aforementioned linguistic structure, like the syntax and the grammar, here is where you find marked differences from English. In fact, part of the grammar structure of Auslan uses what’s called the ‘comment and topic’ form. This is a piece of the language that you’re far more likely to find in an Asian dialect, than you would in the English language. That being said, those with hearing impairments frequently see English as their second language after Auslan.


What is Auslan? What is Captioning? What’s the Difference?So let’s get back to the subject of this article. You’re now aware of what Auslan is. In fact, you’ll probably see it all the time now. What is captioning? Captioning is what you see on your media screens if you choose to select ‘mute’ and ‘closed captioning.’ Closed captioning provides written descriptors of what is going on, on the screen, so that those with hearing impairments, receive the same entertainment experience. English captioning is frequently used over other languages on media platforms, given the large population that chooses to communicate in English.


SO- Auslan or English captioning? What makes the most sense for the hearing impaired community. Experts take a lot of different factors into account, including pre-lingual deafness and post-lingual deafness. These factors are as straightforward as they sound, pre-lingual deafness occurs before the person impacted is able to formulate communication preferences. For those dealing with post-lingual, they’ve already developed communication preferences. For pre-lingual, sign language would be the preferred choice. They learn Auslan first, and English later in life. Post-lingual folks are more comfortable dealing with English captioning.


Bottom line, there is no perfect solution to fit everyone’s needs. Given advancements in technology, we’re sure that there will come a day when both are available at the bottom of your screen. For now, it takes extra empathy and sensitivity from organizations to remember to read your audience and determine the proper way to communicate.

Posted in Industry News By

Hearlink Admin