Australian Sign Language, also known as Auslan, is a language in visual-manual modality. It is dominantly used by culturally Deaf signers in Australia.
Auslan is descended from old British Sign Language (BSL) in Britain as well as it had some of its influences from Irish Sign Language. Auslan was developed and evolved from these languages during the 19th century in residential schools for the deaf and Deaf community in Australia. The Australian federal government formally recognized Auslan as a natural language in 1987 and the first Auslan dictionary was developed in 1989.
Nowadays, Auslan has some borrowed words from ASL (American Sign Language), usually signed words for technical terms. There is a growing number of Auslan courses provided in secondary and post-secondary schools, continuing education programs, and private classes.
Apart from Auslan used by Deaf people in Australia, there are also Aboriginal sign languages, such as Walpiri Sign Language. These indigenous sign languages have been around since long, even before Auslan.
Johnson, Trevor & Schemberi, Adam. (2007) "Australian Sign Language: An introduction to sign language linguistics." Publisher: Cambridge University Press.
Auslan Signbank (Auslan dictionary online). Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children. www.auslan.org.au
Johnston, T. A. Signs of Australia: A new dictionary of Auslan. North Rocks, NSW: North Rocks Press. 1998.
British Sign Language (BSL).
Browse ASL and Deaf culture topics.