A language of Australia

Alternate Names
Australian Sign Language

10,100 (2016 census).



Language Maps
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 and lexical 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, McKee and Kennedy 2000). 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. Used by all. Also use English [eng], especially hearing people for communication with the deaf and teaching deaf students (officially for this purpose in New South Wales) through a signed variety. Used as L2 by Australian Irish Sign Language [isg].

Language Development

Taught in primary schools. TV. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible portions: 1999–2002.


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

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. National curriculum for Auslan instruction instituted in 2016. Deaf population is aging and anticipated to decline (Johnston 2004) in the future, due to dramatically reduced incidence of causes of deafness (particularly rubella) in the last several decades, mainstreaming in education, cochlear implants, and anticipated effects of advances in genetic science.

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