Deaf Can Do (SA)

(former Royal South Australian Deaf Society)

In 1989, AUSLAN (AUstralian Sign LANguage) was officially acknowledged as a community language, and public schools for deaf started to build up, which gave to the Australian Royal Deaf Societies a better span in all aspects of the everyday life of deaf people.

The Royal South Australian Deaf Society, based in Adelaide, has been established in 1891, over 130 years ago, and is still active today, providing services and programs which help to equip the Deaf and hearing impaired community with the tools, knowledge and confidence they need to live independently while having access to a full range of community services and facilities.

So, Deaf Can Do is designed to :

– assist Deaf and hearing impaired persons to promote and extend their social, educational and occupational activities

– promote public interest in the welfare of Deaf and hearing impaired persons

– develop maximum opportunities for access to general community services

– advocate on behalf of Deaf and hearing impaired persons

– provide interpreting support

-provide specific support to aged Deaf and hearing impaired persons with other disabilities.
However, Deaf Can Do focuses on deaf grown-ups only, as another association manages deaf children in South Australia : Can Do 4 Kids.

Interview with Alex Crawford – General Coordinator of Deaf Can Do

There are 50 people in the association’s staff, from which 20 interpreters, 5 teachers for the deaf, 3 audiologists and 22 administrative and ancillary staff.
The services provided by Deaf Can Do are the following :

Auslan Interpreting Services : it provides interpreters to deaf people, for studies and all kind of situations. This service is free for the deaf person as the government pays it.
Deaf students in specialized school have a dedicated interpreter in every program for each year ; if the deaf student is not enrolled in a specialized school but in a mainstream one, he still can have a free interpreter, but it depends on the school’s consentment.
However, if the interpretation service is free for the university studies, it is limited for the professional studies.
Interpreters specifically working at  the deaf person’s work are managed by Auslan for Employment. This service is also free but there is time limits.
At national scale, there’s also the NABS (National Auslan Booking Service) which manages generally jobs and interpreters between all states and territories.

Community services : some basic help about office work and needs to deaf people who has understanding difficulties because they grow old or because of their illiteracy. This free service provides information, counselling and referral ; assistance for deafBlind, Deaf and hearing impaired persons with additional needs ; Independent Living Skills training and specialised service for the aged.

Auslan Courses, for each of the five levels. This service is free for deaf people who have trouble to speak and don’t know well Auslan, and charges apply for oralist deaf and hearing people.These courses are designed to provide a progressive language acquisition in a relaxed, informal environment, and also aim to provide an insight into the unique world of Deaf Community. Each Talking Hands course runs for two hours per week for five weeks.

Hearing Loss Solutions SA : a service which provides full and free audiology services, advice, consultations and help people with auditive problems and/or with their listening devices, such as infrared systems for TV, assorted options for telephone and mobile use, alarm clocks, doorbells and much more. It is the only not-for-profit audiology clinic and one of a few clinics in South Australia not directly aligned with a hearing aid manufacturer – guaranteeing an independent and unbiased service.

HLS SA provides also Aural Rehabilitation programs which assist in improving hearing and listening skills and help to develop effective communication strategies. The offered programs are Listening and Communication Enhancement, Active Communication Education and Lip-Reading courses.

« Hi » Deafness Friendly Program. This service’s primary aim is to improve communication and the quality of life for those who are Deaf or hearing impaired. It does this by providing information sessions, checklists products and services to assist government and business organisations to become Deafness Friendly locations.

About Auslan learning or attitude towards people, according to Mrs Crawford, it’s just a matter of skills and above all, attitude. If you got a good attitude, you can easily learn Auslan and Deaf Can Do will be happy to teach it to you. If you respect Auslan, deaf culture and deaf people, you can come to the association’s place and have a talk with them, they’ll love it. But if you don’t care about deaf and their ways of communication, then don’t bother to come.

Mrs Crawford also considers that nowadays, things are way better for deaf people than 30 years ago, thanks to the Internet, the text messages, National Relay Service, services offered by government (free interpreters, free auditory check-ups) and minds become more open about difference and disability. Deaf people still have to be strong, often strong-willed too. But things are going better day after day.

Signing and oralist deaf are also less enemies than in France. Some disagreements and fights may still occur because of culture differences but there is a strong mutual respect in either side, and a kind of statu quo – this is your business to talk, it is my business to sign – so that they can even work together. The cohabitation and the tolerance between the two sides is far better than in France.

There’s a good proof of this in the fact that Deaf Can Do welcomes all kind of deaf people : with hearing aids or cochlear implant or nothing, oralists or signing people, it doesn’t matter. They are here to help all of them as much as they can. The only thing is they are often more useful for signing deaf people as they have plenty of interpreters and as all the staff is bilingual – or working to be – Auslan/English.

As a matter of fact, Cued Speech attempted to be introduced in Australia 40 years ago, but was kicked out by deaf people, because they didn’t like the way it worked. « Juste nonsense, shaking your hand around your face. It looks like nothing. » and the fact that it was neither oral neither sign language. Why bother with it when you can go from Auslan to oral without problem ?

The thing is, there’s no prejudice or social ostracism with sign language in Australia. Of course, there’s still some short-sighted people, as everywhere, but you just need to be strong-willed to make them go away.

Many thanks to Alex Crawford for sharing her opinion with our readers !

For further information :

Deaf Can Do

262 South Terrace,
Adelaide SA 5000

Ph (08) 8223 333
Fax : (08) 8232 2217
TTY : (08) 8223 6530

Email :

Website :

Auslan Interpreting Services

Ph : (08) 8223 3335
TTY : (08) 8100 8205

Hearing Loss Solutions SA :

Adelaide Clinic Ph : (08) 8100 8209
Blackwood Clinic Ph : (08) 8178 0022

Website :

All initial assessments with HLS SA are free (no cost to client or Medicare)

Hi Deafness Friendly

Ph : (08) 8100 8248
TTY : (08) 8223 6530

Website :

Specialized schools for deaf children in and around Adelaide :

Klemzig Primary school

Furlong Park School and Pre-School for Deaf children

Adelaide High School

Windsor Gardens Vocational College

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