About the Deaf Acknowledgement Statement
The Deaf Community around Australia has sought to gain recognition and acknowledgement for their key role in the community for preserving, promoting and inspiring the culture, language and identities of deaf people in a similar way as Indigenous Australians are acknowledged and respected.
Deaf Australians have been a significant part of the Australian society, even pre-dating the first recorded arrival of a deaf European-born migrant, Elizabeth (Betty) Steel who arrived on the Second Fleet as a convict in 1790. Before this event, deaf Indigenous Australians developed their own sign systems and languages to communicate with their people. Over the years, the establishment of deaf schools, services, sports, clubs, deaf-owned businesses and more has added to the rich history of the Australian Deaf community, and it is important that the future generations of deaf people are aware of their history and to continue the legacy of the deaf people who inspire them in preserving the culture, language and identities of the deaf community.
This statement acknowledges and respects the past and the present members of the deaf community who will, in many ways, continue the legacy of the deaf community and marks the importance of dignity, self-worth, and identity.
At the World Federation of the Deaf International Conference in Sydney, 2013, an informal acknowledgement was introduced after the Indigenous ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony was conducted at the beginning of the conference. That statement reads:
As we are at an event of significance to Deaf Community, it is important to take the opportunity to consider, acknowledge and respect those who lead before us – members of the Deaf community who worked tirelessly to advocate greater equality for Deaf people in the wider community over the past years. We give thanks to these many leaders of the Deaf community all over the world, not only for what they have achieved for us, but also for inspiring today and tomorrow’s leaders in our community. Only through our continued successes can we continue the legacy of our past leaders of the Deaf community.
The proposal for a standard Deaf Acknowledgement statement was first raised by the Western Australian Association of the Deaf at the Annual General Meeting of Deaf Australia in 2016, with the following proposed statement:
(Name of organisation) acknowledges the Deaf community in Australia and marvels at the strength of its members to maintain their rich language, Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and how Deaf people have great pride in identifying themselves as a socio-linguistic minority with their own unique culture, visual language and rich heritage.
The members of the deaf community viewed and voted between the three options (including the official statement) through an online poll. The outcome of the online poll was endorsed by members of Deaf Australia at their Annual General Meeting in November 2018.
The Acknowledgements should be used before the start of the meeting, conference or event and is ideally presented by a member of the Aboriginal / Torres Strait Islanders community and member of the deaf community respectively.
The Deaf acknowledgement should only be used at events relevant to the deaf community and/or its language, Auslan.
Video Credits : Auslan Consultancy and Ramas McRae, Language Consultant