Supersedes the Auslan Endorsement System (2009)

Note: in this policy, where we refer to ‘Deaf’, we are referring to Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people in Australia who use Auslan as their language of preference.


This policy supersedes the Auslan Endorsement System (2009) – which provided endorsements to Auslan products according to two distinct categories. They can be viewed in the Annexes below.

Due to recent dialogue in the Deaf Community and a deeper understanding and wider community acceptance of the Deaf Ecosystem and its principles, Deaf Australia has decided to review the Auslan Endorsement System. The review has resulted in the decision to supersede the System and replace it with a Deaf and Signing Ecosystem Policy (Deaf Ecosystem). This is because the Auslan Endorsement System does not recognise Deaf signing people as the rightful keepers of Auslan.

Principles of the Deaf and Signing Ecosystem

  • Equity is first and foremost the core of the Deaf Ecosystem. This includes:
    • Intersectionality, which includes and is not limited to, ethnicity (including First Nations), gender, LGBQTI+, educational background, residential location, employment status, disabilities, and age, where all are recognised as equal of respect and included in the Deaf community.
    • Social equity where Deaf people can participate fully in their communities both Deaf and local.
    • Educational equity where fully informed pathways are provided to all including families with deaf children to access quality education in the most appropriate and preferred format.
    • Workplace equity where tools and resources create access and inclusion in the workplace.
    • Economic equity where finance, resources and economic empowerment are created in a way that is accessible and benefits many.
  • Businesses and organisations are Deaf-owned and Deaf-led.
  • Where Deaf related fields such as education and research into sign language, are concerned, work with Deaf expertise first and foremost.
  • Where topics are up for debate, such as education for deaf children, work with Deaf expertise first and foremost.
  • Collaborate with Deaf schools and organisations for Deaf people and children.
  • Where hearing organisations are involved, Deaf people are equitable to hearing people – either as beneficiaries (using the social model), or as paid employees or contributors

The Deaf and Signing Ecosystem

The Deaf Ecosystem is a tool where disadvantages many Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing individuals experience are addressed. Many Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people are either under- or unemployed, often with their wealth and opportunities exploited by the larger societal structure firmly in place. This exploitation along with educational, social, economic and workplace barriers continue the disempowerment many face.

To actively remove these barriers, there is a requirement of economic, social and knowledge investment in the Deaf community; to be precise, its individuals, organisations and businesses.

 There are many ways to do this. Some examples include but are not limited to:

  • Using a Deaf-owned business, of which there are many
  • Hiring Deaf professionals to provide a service to you or to your workplace
  • Providing pro-bono or in-kind knowledge in an area of expertise that you have to Deaf people or organisations in a mentoring capacity or otherwise
  • Supporting the Deaf community’s initiatives
  • Supporting advocacy movements such as lobbying for better access to interpreters on the political stage
  • Providing support to the diverse members of the Deaf community
  • Ensuring that you create a spotlight on the Deaf person when approached to speak to the media or publicly. In addition, declining to speak on the Deaf community’s behalf, no matter your role or expertise (such as interpreting).

Such investment in the Deaf community will ensure a thriving and self-reliant community. Supporting each other in a collective effort creates a positive knock-on effect. It enables the Deaf community to develop healthy, productive and empowered members, which leads to educational, economic and social barriers being eradicated.

Examples of exploitation

  • Hearing people create and sell Auslan resources.
  • Hearing people establish a business that profits from Deaf people (e.g., interpreting services or NDIS provider).
  • Deaf people work for a hearing organisation, but are not paid an appropriate or equitable wage.

Deaf Australia’s Position  

Deaf Australia is active in their part of the Deaf Ecosystem, in that it collaborates with the Deaf community, pays for, and provides a platform of shared knowledge from a wide range of people in the Deaf community. This currently comes in four different formats: webinars, vodcasts, workshops and skill-share. The topics on offer are based on suggestions received from the Deaf community.

Procurement Strategy

  1. When obtaining services or advice from people external to Deaf Australia, the following are the steps Deaf Australia will take, in consecutive order:
    Deaf Australia obtains services or advice from the Deaf community in Australia.
  2. Failing an appropriate Australian source, and if funding allows, Deaf Australia will source services or advice from Deaf people internationally.
  3. Failing that, Deaf Australia will source services or advice from hearing people who are a part of the Deaf community (known as Deaf-Hearts).
  4. If all else fails and there are no other opportunities left to explore, Deaf Australia will source services or advice from hearing people with no connection to the Deaf community.

The Deaf community is more powerful together as a force than as stand-alone individuals.


Date Approved

21 December 2021

Date of Commencement

21 December 2021

Amendment Date


Date for Next Review

November 2022

Related Policy, Procedure and Guidelines


Policy Superseded by this Policy

Auslan Endorsement System

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