Deaf Children and sign language interpreters.

When should you organise interpreters for your deaf child?

Deaf or hard of hearing children benefit significantly from having access to sign language in general. Access to interpreters from a young age is of huge benefit to the Deaf or Hard of Hearing (HoH) child. Here are some reasons why both language access and development is so important. 

Sign language provides a means of communication for Deaf and HoH children who may struggle with spoken language due to their inability to hear speech sounds. Early exposure to both English and Auslan (or other signed languages) promotes cognitive linguistic development which leads to better outcomes as children grow. 

When is the right time to provide both English and Auslan to a baby or child that has ANY hearing loss? NOW! Experts say they say from when babies are in utero they are listening to their mums and dads, so as soon as a baby is born, you can give them immediate exposure to both languages. Access to sign language contributes to brain development in Deaf children.

Why the bilingual approach? It enables Deaf and HoH children to fully participate in all contexts of their life, promoting equal opportunities for education, relationships, work, and any other part of life. Enhanced social skills and self-confidence result from effective communication through sign language. Brain development comes easily to a child that has access to both English and sign language.

We only need to see the section (see video) in “Greys Anatomy” filmed in America where they are already so advanced in how they promote sign language immediately following birth. Being aware and knowing the value of the bilingual approach for Deaf and HoH children, right away in hospital, is something that should be available to every person in Australia.

Historically Deaf children have experienced audism; sign language was only recognised as a community language in as late as the 1990s. However, recently we have seen in the World Federation of the Deaf, Endorse a Declaration on the Rights of Deaf Children, (see below).

Other benefits of learning sign language include helping Deaf children express their thoughts and needs more easily, and as an added bonus they get to choose which world (Deaf or Hearing) they would like to be in at different stages of their life.

Parental Responsibility

While parents play a crucial role in supporting their Deaf children, professional Auslan or sign language interpreters are essential for accurate communication. Parental responsibility refers to the duties, powers, and authority parents have regarding their children, including decisions about education and health. However, parental responsibility doesn’t automatically grant parents the ability to interpret sign language effectively.

Interpreting sign language requires specialized skills. All NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters) Certified Interpreters have completed learning language and interpreter training then passed testing by NAATI to certify that they can interpret effectively. Relying solely on parents can lead to miscommunication or incomplete understanding. Using family as interpreters also can be a conflict of interest, in that interpreters must remain impartial in their role, and this can impact on the autonomy of the Deaf or HoH child. Professional interpreters ensure accurate communication and are bound by ASLIA Code of Ethics. Read more about interpreter’s ethics and responsibilities here: 

The World Federation of the Deaf

The World Federation of the Deaf recently approved the Declaration on the Rights of Deaf Children. See this picture to learn more about the summary of 10 articles of the rights of deaf children across the world. 

PDF version: Declaration-on-the-Rights-cof-Deaf-Children-v3


The following are now embedded in the declaration;

– All deaf children, like all humans, are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

– All deaf children have a right to sign language. National sign language(s) are the only fully accessible language for deaf children from birth onwards.

– The right of deaf children to their national sign language(s) shall not be infringed.

– All parents, carers and family members of deaf children must be provided with free instruction in their national sign language.

– All deaf children have a right to quality, inclusive, multilingual education in their sign language (Auslan) and the national written language (English).

– All deaf children have the right to learn the linguistic identity and culture of the deaf community.

– All deaf children have the right to protection from language deprivation. Not providing access to the national sign language (Auslan) to all deaf children constitutes discrimination.

– All deaf children have the right to fluent national sign language models, including teachers in education.

– All deaf children have a right to express their views on matters affecting them.

– All of the above declarations must be implemented for all deaf children immediately and without delay. 



In summary, Auslan or sign language interpreters are vital for Deaf children’s development, at whichever age you believe is right for you and your family. While parents do have responsibilities, engaging professional NAATI certified interpreters ensures effective communication for their child.🤟🏼

In summary, Auslan or sign language interpreters are vital for Deaf children’s development, at whichever age you believe is right for you and your family. While parents have responsibilities, engaging professional NAATI certified interpreters ensures effective communication.🤟🏼

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