A Culturally Affirming Way Forward

Published on: 21st September 2022

New research into the impact of Sign Language on the Australian Economy  

Read the research here.
View the summary report in Auslan here.
View the summary report in English here.

September, 2022. Deaf Australians could be $12,000 per year better off if they are provided with adequate Auslan (Australian Sign Language) intervention, according to new research released today by Deaf Connect and Deaf Australia.

The research, titled ‘Our Culture, Our Value, The Social and Economic Benefits of Auslan’ is the first of three ground-breaking reports into the economic impact of Auslan on the Australian economy produced by Per Capita and commissioned by Deaf Connect and Deaf Australia.  

The release coincides with National Week of Deaf People (19-25 September 2022), and International Day of Sign Languages (Friday 23 September). The theme for National Week of Deaf People 2022 is Building Inclusive Communities for All.

Deaf Connect CEO Brett Casey says that the series of reports are the first of their kind in Australia to address the economic value, and optimal timing of Auslan intervention for Deaf Australians.

“To ignite policy debate, Deaf Connect identified the need for evidence-based research on the economic impact of Auslan access, but equally important, and pertinent to National Week of Deaf People is the individual and community benefits that shared language fluency can provide”, Mr Casey says.

“This first report outlines the social value across four core areas; health literacy, educational attainment, labour market participation and wellbeing and health benefits.

“The report investigates the benefits associated with the redress of disability impacts that can be provided by Auslan acquisition and are agnostic of other redress solutions such as technology assistance.

“Across these core areas it is estimated the per capita benefit Deaf Australians of Auslan access is $12,419 dollars annually. Critically, the flow on from this is a total economic value of $368 million per year.

“We hope to see these figures, and the social value of sign language access considered by policy makers, including a government review of Auslan as a language, from a status, policy, funding, service provision and cultural lens.”

Deaf Australia CEO, Jen Blyth said the report will be supported by further research, titled; Exploring the Benefits of Auslan in Early Intervention Approaches for Deaf Children.

“While, ‘Our Culture, Our Value, The Social and Economic Benefits of Auslan’, establishes the value of Auslan for individuals and the economy, this subsequent paper focuses on how, and when that learning is best implemented and the opportunity cost that even a few years can have on a child’s capacity to learn.

“The final paper, “Establishing the Costs of Hearing Loss in Australia is as an investigation into the personal and economic costs associated with hearing loss particularly regarding its disabling effects and the cost of productivity. A clear understanding the costs associated with the status quo is critical for policy makers to plan for the future.”

In addition to this suite of research, Deaf Connect and Deaf Australia’s have developed a joint advocacy agenda, which will form the basis of our discussions with Government and other stakeholders. This includes four recommendations: 

  • A commitment from Government to establish a Joint Committee to review the equity, effectiveness, and efficiency of Auslan including existing policy, funded programs, services and overall status  
  • Redesigning the Employment Assistance Fund to ensure greater accessibility and flexibility, which will lead to greater employment participation and socioeconomic contributions by Deaf Australians  
  • Providing access to critical assistive technology for Deaf Australians aged over 65 who are ineligible for the NDIS  
  • An authentic commitment from all levels of Government to ensure all key press conferences, briefings and announcements are accessible in Auslan. 

Deaf Australia and Deaf Connect look forward to presenting this, and the rest of our pipeline of research to Government and engaging with all stakeholders on these important issues.  

The report, ‘Our Culture, Our Value, The Social and Economic Benefits of Auslan’ can be found on the Deaf Connect and Deaf Australia websites, include a summary report and an Auslan version.

The release of this research was planned for an exclusive event at Parliament House in Canberra on 14.09.22 which has been postponed to accommodate plans for the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Click here to download the Media Release


Media Opportunities:
For all media enquiries, contact us.

Deaf Connect offer interpreting services for Auslan representation across all media.

Interviews and comment are available from Mr Brett Casey, CEO Deaf Connect and Jen Blyth, CEO Deaf Australia.

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