Is sign language easy to learn?

Auslan (Australian Sign Language) is not just a signed version of English – it’s a separate language with its own grammar, syntax and structure. Like learning any language, some people find it easier than others. At Deaf Can:Do we run beginners classes called ‘Talking Hands’ – if you’re interested in learning a new skill, you should definitely get in touch.

Is Auslan the same as (ASL) American Sign Language?

Auslan and ASL are two distinct languages – just like spoken English and Japanese. Sign languages are not universal – each country and Deaf community has its own sign language – some countries have more than one. There’s also International Sign Language, which is used exclusively for international conferences.

Can you drive?
Yes, Deaf people can drive! You might even like to know that there are three Deaf pilots in Australia!

Are all Deaf people really good at lip-reading?

Whilst some Deaf people are skilled lip-readers, the majority are not. Lip reading is actually incredibly difficult. Not convinced? Try standing in front of the mirror and saying ‘cat, bat, hat, mat.’

A Deaf person I know seems to hear certain noises. Does that mean he’s not really Deaf?

There are degrees of Deafness and some Deaf people can hear certain frequencies. Often Deaf people are aware of noises through vibration. For example, we may feel the vibration when someone knocks on a table.

Does deafness run in families?
Whilst there is a type of Deafness that is genetic, nine out of ten Deaf babies are born to hearing parents. These children are also likely to go on to have hearing children.

How do you wake up in the morning if you can’t hear an alarm?

These days there are lots of devices for people who can’t hear alarms. These include vibrating alarm clocks, smoke alarms that use vibrating pads under the mattress and flashing light systems in doorbells and baby monitors.

How do you communicate with hearing people?
There are lots of ways to communicate with people who can’t sign. These include mime, writing notes (either on paper or typing into a phone, iPad or computer) and video calls. You can also make phone calls using the National Relay Service.

What should I remember when talking to a Deaf person?

Eye contact is really important – and never shout!

What annoying things are there?

It’s annoying when thinks you’re rude when you haven’t hear them. For example, I was in a café recently and someone sat behind me asked to pass the sugar. They got annoyed as they thought I was purposely ignoring them – when actually I just didn’t hear them ask.

Why do you write Deaf with a capital D?

Using a capital D signifies Deaf culture. People who use Deaf with a capital D identify themselves as culturally Deaf and have a strong connection to their Deaf community. They may refer to themselves as ‘big D Deaf’ and are proud to be Deaf.