Could redefining Auslan as an acceptable second language for hearing children potentially create a demand that could provide opportunities for many, not just the deaf? Mother Maria Roccon, of Unanderra, New South Wales, who is deaf and supports three children, one of whom is also deaf, believes it could. "My grandfather, my mother, my brother, me, and then my son Kayden — we are all deaf," Ms Roccon said.
Kayden, 11, wears a hearing aid and, like his mother, has developed skills in lip reading. "I never pushed or forced them to learn Auslan. It was up to them," Ms Roccon said. "But as my hearing deteriorates I would like them to learn, so I am trying to encourage them now to learn the language.
"Kayden's hearing is deteriorating also, so I think it's important we all learn Auslan now. "Auslan is a broad language where you can see everything. "The feelings, emotions … it's just more understandable," she said of Auslan, which is short for Australian sign language.
"When you speak it's just words, but with Auslan you can see it all — facial expressions, body language, everything is clearer." Important for the hearing to know Auslan too
Ms Roccon's eldest daughter, Gabriella, is not deaf but can sign — in fact, she has three first languages. As a child of deaf adults (CODA), Auslan was her first language and she used it at home growing up.
In addition to naturally learning to speak English, her mother's family is Italian so Gabriella learned to speak that too. "There weren't really any difficulties in learning sign language for me," she said.
ATR Comment: As usual the plea for a signing curriculum is gathering 'pace' in Australia too, but, we are not seeing facts or balance put forward that justify Auslan as a curriculum need for the hearing.
ATR has looked into the statistics of Auslan which can be verified), which are:-
(a) Net population of people there is 24m.
(b) Actual profound deaf are listed as approximately, 30,000.
(c) Real and proven regular Auslan usage is with 9,700.
(d) Australia too uses the 1 in 6 estimates of those with hearing loss issues. (Those 1 in 6 stats also include the deaf) so reported twice.
(e) Less than one-third of deaf in Australia, use sign as a communication medium, and,
(f) Australia is heavily involved in the CI programs.
(g) Predominantly most Auslan users live in the south of Australia.
Do these listed facts prove a need for sign classes as a norm in Australia? Or even provide real awareness of deaf and hard of hearing need there?