Australian Sign Language


A language of Australia

Alternate Names

7,150 (2006 census).



Language Status

5 (Developing). De facto language of provincial identity in New South Wales.


None known. Related to British Sign Language [bfi], with influences also from Irish Sign Language [isg] and American Sign Language [ase]. Many structural similarities between British Sign Language (BSL) [bfi], Australian Sign Language (Auslan) [asf], and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) [nzs] and a high degree of mutual intelligibility (2003 T. Johnston). Linguists sometimes use the name BANZSL to refer to them as a group, while still recognizing them as separate related languages.


Two-handed fingerspelling system.

Language Use

Some signed interpretation in court, for college students, at important public events. Australian Signed English, a manual system for representing English [eng], is distinct from Australian Sign Language, and is used by hearing people for communication with the deaf, to teach the deaf, and officially so in New South Wales.

Language Development
Taught in primary schools. Films. TV. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible portions: 1999–2002.
Other Comments

Earliest schools for the deaf established by British deaf immigrants in 1860. Many agencies for the deaf. Sign language instruction for parents of deaf children. Committee on national sign language.