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Auslan (Key Word Sign) Learning with Amanda

With 1 in 6 Australians affected by hearing loss, Auslan (Australian Sign Language) plays an important role as it is the language of the Deaf community in Australia. Key Word Sign uses the signs from Auslan to communicate, along with spoken English, creating unique learning for children.

Amanda Santos, Centre Director of SDN Hurstville has a close connection with Key Word Sign starting her journey when she discovered her son was born deaf in his left ear. Amanda saw an opportunity to build her son’s identity and connection to Deaf culture through adopting Key Word Sign as a key form of communication.

Amanda found a place for Key Word Sign in her own work as a Centre Director at SDN Hurstville, to help children foster a strong sense of belonging and wellbeing. Some children at the centre have English as a second language, others have a developmental delay and some experience non-verbal behaviour.

“For children who are non-verbal or who have a developmental delay, it provides a way for them to access communication and express themselves,” says Amanda.

Amanda has seen her team of educators take on new Key Word Sign communication skills and become passionate about integrating the practice into the centre learning environment. Some of her team have also been able to apply their skills to different aspects of their lives.

How have children responded to Key Word Sign learning?

Children have taken to Key Word Sign with positivity, through learning activities such as songs, stories and greetings such as ‘good morning’ and ‘how are you?’

They have also been able to express practical needs and social etiquette around general routines at the centre during meal times with ‘more’, ‘finished’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.

Amanda and her team have seen children embrace these learnings and for many preschoolers, they have mastered being able to fingerspell their own names. Children with ‘shy’ qualities have also been able to express themselves and connect with communication in a way in which they are comfortable.

Amanda sings the ‘ABC song’ & ‘Rainbow song’ for families who are at home.

 What are the learning benefits of Key Word Sign for children?

  1. Creates an ability for children to communicate and build connections with others who have a hearing loss or developmental delay.
  2. Gives children an understanding that we are all different and we can celebrate unique differences in others.
  3. Creates new skills and learning opportunities for children to develop the foundations of learning a new language (Auslan).

Since starting her Auslan (Key Word Sign) journey at the centre, Amanda and her team have seen children embrace learnings from a young age, providing a strong base for them to retain and strengthen these skills. Amanda is excited to continue sharing her passion for the inclusive practice of Key Word Sign across her community, one sign at a time.

Amanda practices Auslan Key Word Sign (Australian, Northern dialect) as much as possible.

Further learning and resources for Auslan:

http://www.auslan.org.au/about/dictionary/

https://www.scopeaust.org.au/services-for-individuals/specialised-communication-services/key-word-sign-australia/

https://www.autismapps.org.au/language/key-word-sign-australia-auslan-resource/

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