Auslan in the workplace – creating inclusion through sign language

Stories | September 25, 2019

CBM Australia is committed to fostering an inclusive workplace. This includes giving all staff the opportunity to learn to communicate with people whose mother language is Australian Sign Language (Auslan).

This is why we recruited Auslan Consultancy, a team of Deaf professionals with experience in Auslan training and language consultancy, to share their language with our staff. Auslan Consultancy runs Auslan @ Work, where each training session is tailored to meet the needs of individual organisations.

Sessions included introduction signs to initiate conversation with a Deaf person when meeting for the first time, how to get comfortable with space and facial expressions and understanding how to communicate with Deaf people. CBM Australia staff had the opportunity to participate in introductory and intermediate Auslan @ Work courses.

Gemma Muir, CBM Australia Advocacy and Communications Officer, is currently taking part in the introductory course.

“The trainer is excellent”, Gemma said. “He provided a comfortable and non-judgmental environment for us to learn in.”

Janelle Richards, Director of People and Culture, said that the purpose of CBM Australia having Auslan courses available for staff was to promote inclusion and improved communication.

“The impetus for us to run this course came from staff themselves,” Janelle said, “they were motivated to learn to better communicate with Jen, one of our Disability Inclusion Advisors, who is Deaf.”

Jen says that her colleagues’ participation in these courses go a long way towards making her feel wanted and welcomed in the workplace.

“Generally, the onus is completely on me to communicate with colleagues when they use English,” Jen said, “but now that my workmates have some basic Auslan, this helps take the responsibility off me to have clear communication.”

Raine, CBM Australia’s Director of Inclusive Development, says that it was important for us to run the Auslan courses.

“In a purely spoken-English environment, Jen misses out – particularly in social contexts.” Raine said.

Gemma undertook the Auslan course so she could better communicate with Jen and other Deaf people whose first language is Auslan.

“CBM’s vision is of a more inclusive world,” Gemma said, “I wanted to make sure I was contributing to this vision, not just through my work but in my personal actions. One small way I can do that is by taking responsibility to communicate with Jen in a way that works best for her.”

CBM Australia recognises its commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace, including being more inclusive in how we communicate.

Auslan Consultancy is a team of deaf professionals with experience in video production, Auslan training and language consultancy nationwide.

Auslan Consultancy are passionate about sharing their language with you. Auslan Consultancy runs Auslan @ Work. Each training session is specific to your needs as we will teach you the Auslan signs that you will need specific to your place of work and identify any cultural aspects in regards to your work place in order to make the deaf Auslan user’s experience with your company a more welcoming and safe one. Learning Auslan is practical and fun for everyone, so why not consider this as a team building activity for your staff.

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