Auslan (Version 8.4)

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As a native user of Auslan, and as an advocate for the language and for the Deaf community, I am thrilled to see a national curriculum in Auslan come to fruition. For the first time, deaf children will have access to a formal first language learner pathway for acquiring Auslan, acknowledging their status and strengths as visual learners and offering a ‘Deaf gain’ perspective to their lives.



The formal study of Auslan contributes to the overall intellectual and social enrichment of both first language (L1) and second language (L2) learners by providing:

opportunities for engagement with the Deaf community and insight into its rich cultural heritage



The Australian Curriculum: Languages – Auslan aims to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills to enable students to:

communicate in Auslan
understand language, culture and learning and their relationship, and thereby develop an intercultural capability in communication


Learning Auslan

Some linguistic features of Auslan are similar to properties found in spoken languages and others are not. For example, the 26 fingerspelled letters of the Auslan alphabet are based on the 26 letters of English.


Learner diversity and learner pathways

There is diversity in the background of learners of Auslan. Learners may be deaf, hard of hearing or hearing, and may be learning Auslan as a first language or as a second language.


Developing teaching and learning

Sequences of learning
The Australian Curriculum: Languages – Auslan has two learning sequences: one from Foundation to Year 10, and another from Year 7 to Year 10 (Year 7 Entry).


PDF documents

Resources and support materials for the Australian Curriculum: Languages – Auslan are available as PDF documents.
Languages - Auslan: Auslan glossing conventions and principles
Languages - Auslan: Auslan Glossary




Years F–10 Sequence

The second language learner (L2) pathway caters for students learning Auslan as a second or additional language. This will usually be students who are not members of the Deaf community; typically, hearing students who may or may not already know a second language. The L2 pathway may also include deaf or hard of hearing children already fluent in another language, such as a different signed language in the case of a recent immigrant, or spoken English for some deaf children who have residual hearing or access to speech. These students are introduced to Auslan as a language to add to their existing linguistic repertoire. Teachers will use the curriculum to cater for learners of different backgrounds by making appropriate adjustments to differentiate learning experiences.

The first language of most L2 students will be a spoken language, and this pathway gives them an opportunity to study a language that is very different from a spoken language. If L2 learners are learning in a school attended by deaf students, they will have a unique opportunity to use their new language on a daily basis in an authentic context.

L2 programs occur with constant involvement from a variety of fluent signers from the community. A key expectation is that students will have opportunities to interact with elders and members of the Deaf community.

Years 7–10 (Year 7 Entry) Sequence

The second language learner pathway Years 7–10 sequence offers students the opportunity to learn Auslan as a second or additional language commencing in their first year of high school. These learners are typically hearing students with little prior exposure to the language or to the Deaf community; but many will have learnt an additional language in primary school and some have proficiency in different home languages. They consequently bring existing language learning strategies and intercultural awareness to the new experience of learning Auslan. This cohort also includes deaf or hard of hearing students already fluent in another language, such as different signed languages in the case of recent immigrants or spoken English for deaf children who have residual hearing or access to speech. These students are introduced to Auslan to add to their existing linguistic repertoire. Teachers will use the curriculum to cater for learners of different backgrounds by making appropriate adjustments to differentiate learning experiences.

The first language of most L2 students will be a spoken language, and this pathway provides an opportunity to study a language that is very different from a spoken language. L2 learners learning in a school attended by deaf students have a unique opportunity to use their new language on a daily basis in an authentic context.

L2 programs occur with constant involvement from a variety of fluent signers from the community. A key expectation is that students will have opportunities to interact with elders and members of the Deaf community.

Foundation to Year 2

Foundation to Year 2 Band Description

The nature of the learners

Children enter the early years of schooling with established communication in one or more languages and Auslan will be learnt as an additional language. Cognitive and social development at this stage is exploratory and egocentric; thus learning typically focuses on their immediate world of family, home, school and friends. Children at this level are learning how to socialise with new people, share with others and participate in structured routines and activities at school. Auslan will be learnt in parallel with English literacy, and the learning of each language assists with the learning of the other.

Auslan learning and use

Rich language input characterises the first stages of learning. The curriculum builds on children’s interests and sense of enjoyment and curiosity, with an emphasis on active, experiential learning and confidence building. In these years there is an emphasis on developing language to enable learners to participate in class activities such as storytelling and games. Creative play provides opportunities for using the language for purposeful interaction in a relaxed and informal context.

Children build vocabulary for thinking and talking about school topics, routines and processes. They build knowledge and understanding of Auslan by interacting with each other, the teacher and deaf children, and by participating in structured routines and activities. With support and modelling, they use Auslan for different functions such as greeting, thanking, apologising, asking and responding to questions, expressing wishes, likes or dislikes, following simple directions, and taking turns in games and simple shared learning activities. They learn to produce signed phrases independently using modelled language, for example by describing simple pictures.

Contexts of interaction

The primary context for interaction is the language classroom, with the Auslan teacher and classmates. Learners’ use of Auslan primarily relates to classroom routines and activities and to talking about their own life. Additional language enrichment may be gained through interactions with visitors from the Deaf community.

Texts and resources

Texts include filmed children’s stories and teacher-generated materials such as pictures or short descriptions. Learners watch live and filmed texts such as explanations. They respond to resources such as short video clips, or substitution or matching exercises, and produce texts such as conversations using formulaic language.

Features of Auslan use

Children in Foundation to Year 2 become familiar with all handshapes, movements and locations of single signs. They are learning to produce simple positive and negative statements with some time marking, and to use plain verbs or unmodified indicating verbs. They learn to describe familiar objects, animals or people using simple lexical adjectives and to depict the movement of people, animals and means of transport using an appropriate classifier handshape in an entity depicting sign. They are able to use simple handling and SASS depicting signs. They explore emotions through the use of NMFs, and begin to use NMFs for grammatical purposes in modelled language. They learn to use simple constructed action to represent the characteristics of a single animal or themselves or another. They learn the metalanguage of nouns, verbs and adjectives, and learn that signers can modify verbs to show the referents involved.

As children learn to adjust their language to suit different purposes and situations, they begin to understand how culture shapes language use. They compare how they feel when they use different languages and how they view different languages and people who use them. This introduction to the meta dimension of intercultural learning develops the ability to ‘decentre’, to consider different perspectives and ways of being, and to become aware of themselves as communicators and cultural participants.

Level of support

Support is provided through visual and tactile materials, such as pictures, objects and charts, and the use of gesture and modelling. The main source of support is the teacher’s talk, such as questions and statements, explanations, prompts, recycling of language, stories and feedback. Learners rely on modelled language and scaffolded tasks to create their own texts, for example, choosing signs to complete sentences or using pictures to sequence a story that has been told to them.

The role of English

Learners are encouraged to use Auslan whenever possible, with the teacher providing rich and supported language input. English is used as a medium of instruction and for explanation and discussion or in areas from the Understanding strand. This allows learners to talk about differences and similarities that they notice between Auslan and their first language(s) and culture(s), to ask questions about language and culture, to consider how they feel when they see or use Auslan.

Foundation to Year 2 Content Descriptions


Participate in simple interactions with their peers and teachers using high-frequency signs, non-manual features and gestures to talk about self, family and class activities

[Key concepts: self, family, friends, experience, feelings; Key processes: interacting, greeting, asking/answering questions, describing] (ACLASFC127 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • Personal and Social Capability
  • using greetings and farewells following modelled signs such as HELLO, HOW-ARE-YOU? SEE LATER, GOOD MORNING M-R J-O-N-E-S

  • asking and answering questions that require an affirmative or negative response, for example:

    Do you want to play hide and seek?
    Are you alright?
  • asking and answering simple questions about family, friends and pets, such as:

    Do you have a bird?
    I don’t have one.
    How many brothers and sisters do you have?
    Two brothers and one sister.
  • describing the appearance of people or objects using simple statements and supporting pictures or props, for example:

    PRO3 HAVE DS:curly-hair
    He has curly hair.
    The horse is big.
  • expressing likes and dislikes using simple statements such as:

    I like school.
    I don’t like flowers.
    I hate apples.
  • expressing feelings using lexical signs and affective NMFs, for example:

    I’m happy.
    She’s grumpy.
  • expressing wishes for particular occasions or events, for example, THANK-YOU, GOOD-LUCK or HAPPY BIRTHDAY

  • making arrangements using simple time markers without numeral incorporation, for example, TODAY, TOMORROW, NEXT-WEEK

  • referring to family members and classmates by fingerspelling a name or using a sign name

  • describing what they are doing in class activities using plain verbs, for example, PRO1 RUN, PRO1 READ

Participate in guided group activities such as signing games and simple tasks using repeated language structures, facial expressions and gestures

[Key concepts: games, space, place, memory; Key processes: playing, singing, following instructions, exchanging, classifying] (ACLASFC128 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • Personal and Social Capability
  • participating in games or songs that involve the use of repeated phrases, expressions, actions and NMFs, for example, I went to market and I bought … The wheels on the bus …
  • following instructions by locating or moving classroom objects in activities, for example, hiding a marker pen somewhere in the classroom, describing where and then signing from mild to exaggerated ‘cold to hot’ as the student tries to find it
  • using appropriate signs and NMFs when taking turns in games such as 'Go Fish'
  • participating in collaborative tasks that involve selecting, exchanging or classifying objects by attributes such as shape, colour or number
  • using question signs and affirmative and negative answers when swapping or ‘buying’ objects
Develop interaction and communication skills for participation in regular class routines and activities

[Key concepts: fingerspelling, attention, signing space, visual communication; Key processes: interacting, signing, recognising, gaining attention] (ACLASFC129 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • recognising and using fingerspelled names for roll call and games

  • following instructions for class routines, such as:

    DS:line-up PLEASE
    Line up, please.
    LOOK-AT-me PRO1
    Eyes to the front.
    Please find a partner.
  • asking for help or permission, for example:

    Can you help me, please?
    PRO1-plural CAN SHARE?
    Can we share these?
  • gaining attention in appropriate ways, for example by waving or tapping a shoulder or table

  • stopping activities and paying attention when lights are flashed or hands are waved

  • using NMFs such as focused eye gaze, nodding and head shaking to show affirmation and negation

  • using voice-off when possible while signing and keeping appropriate signing space between signers

  • positioning seating to keep visual communication clear or sitting across from/opposite signers when communicating

  • using visual applause to show enjoyment of entertainment or commendation


Identify specific points of information in simple Auslan texts relating to people, places and things and use the information to complete guided tasks

[Key concepts: information, topics; Key processes: identifying, categorising responding, gathering] (ACLASFC130 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • responding to signed information such as class messages or short introductions, for example by identifying names, school locations, numbers or times

  • identifying and applying specific information in Auslan texts to complete guided tasks such as colouring-in and craft activities

  • gathering information from each other about topics such as family members, favourite foods, toys and games to report back to the class using familiar structures and modelled language, for example:

    How many brothers and sisters do you have?
  • identifying information in simple Auslan texts that relates to properties such as colour, number, size or shape, for example when interacting with materials and objects

  • identifying and categorising a select range of signs according to handshape

  • following an Auslan text to gain information needed to complete an action-based activity, such as an obstacle course

Present information about self, family, school and significant objects, using modelled signs and formulaic phrases

[Key concepts: self, family, routines; Key processes: presenting, describing, contributing, demonstrating, recounting] (ACLASFC131 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • Personal and Social Capability
  • describing an object, animal or person using familiar lexical adjectives such as RED, TALL and SMALL

  • contributing to a digital presentation such as a class video by signing a basic description of their family members

  • labelling objects in the classroom with pictures of signs

  • recounting a class excursion, sequencing events through the use of familiar signs, gestures and photos

  • reporting aspects of their daily routines using modelled signs and visual prompts

  • sequencing points of signed information needed to complete an action-based activity such as a treasure hunt


Participate in the shared viewing of recorded or live imaginative signed texts, responding through drawing, miming, gesture or familiar signs

[Key concepts: imagination, expression; Key processes: viewing, drawing, re-enacting, mimicking, signing] (ACLASFC132 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • viewing recorded or live children’s stories and nursery rhymes in Auslan, for example National Simultaneous Storytime books, demonstrating understanding through drawing, gesture, modelled signs or voice

  • responding to short expressive texts that involve the movement of people, animals and/or vehicles, using drawings, familiar signs or re-enactments with puppets or props

  • playing with key elements of short signed stories, for example by mimicking facial expressions or repeated signs

  • interacting with a signing puppet or doll in an imaginary setting, for example by signing simple questions such as:

    What is your name?
    What do you like to do?
  • participating in interactions in Auslan that involve imaginative responses to stimuli, using gestures, handshapes, facial expressions and simple signs

  • engaging with different forms of Deaf art, such as handshape creations

  • shadowing non-manual features in short Auslan poems or stories

Express imaginative ideas and visual thinking through the use of familiar signs, mime and gestures, with a focus on emotions, appearance and actions

[Key concepts: imagination, emotion, expression; Key processes: re-enacting, depicting, creating] (ACLASFC133 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Personal and Social Capability
  • using iconic signs to create variations to actions involved in familiar nursery rhymes, such as ‘Incy Wincy Spider’

  • exploring emotions through the use of NMFs, for example by re-enacting a familiar scenario and modifying emotions each time, for example by switching from fear to excitement to anger

  • depicting the movement of people, animals or means of transport by using handshapes in creative ways

  • creating amusing sequences of signs using a fixed handshape, such as the index finger ‘point’,

    Do you think I’m shy?
  • using gestures and modelled signs to create short skits that convey emotions and behaviours associated with characters from familiar stories or rhymes

  • enacting the movements and characteristics of a particular animal through the use of constructed action


Translate words used in everyday contexts from Auslan into English and vice versa

[Key concepts: similarity, difference, meaning; Key processes: recognising, comparing, identifying, translating, explaining] (ACLASFC134 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • recognising that every language uses words or signs to make meaning

  • identifying aspects of Auslan which are the same in English, such as the fingerspelled alphabet

  • comparing and contrasting the iconicity of some simple signs in terms of their similarity to the object/referent, for example, drink, food, kangaroo, considering how this may help with translation between languages

  • explaining to family and friends the meaning and use of simple signs and expressions, for example, DOG, CAT, BIRD

Create simple print or digital texts such as labels, posters, wall charts or cards that use Auslan images and English words

[Key concepts: meaning, code, bilingualism; Key processes: labelling, creating] (ACLASFC135 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability
  • using images of Auslan signs to name and label familiar objects and classroom items, using posters, word cards with pictures or alphabet cards with images, for example, A is for apple with fingerspelled letter for A

  • creating and using handshape images to represent signs and label with words, for example, flat hand = FISH

  • making their own bilingual picture dictionaries with English labels, images of signs and simple descriptions of signs


Describe aspects of themselves, such as membership of family and their school/class and languages they use, considering how these different elements contribute to their sense of identity

[Key concepts: identity, similarity, difference, self, family, belonging; Key processes: noticing, identifying, describing, explaining, comparing] (ACLASFC136 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • Personal and Social Capability
  • describing themselves and their family using supports such as pictures, photos and family trees

  • identifying themselves as belonging to a family, class or peer group, representing these relationships through captioned pictures or photos or by creating simple digital presentations

  • identifying friends, favourite places, objects or languages they know or are learning that contribute to their identity


Notice what is similar to or different from their own language and culture when interacting with stories, games and different forms of artistic expression in Auslan and from Deaf culture

[Key concepts: language, culture, similarity, difference, respect; Key processes: noticing, comparing, responding] (ACLASFC137 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • Intercultural Understanding
  • responding to teacher prompts in Auslan or English to capture their impressions when viewing images, video clips or stories in Auslan, for example:

    You saw the video. What did you notice?
    What’s the same? What’s different?
  • comparing aspects of their own lives with those of deaf children represented in digital images, video clips and stories, for example, ways of playing games, telling stories or interacting at school, home and in the community

  • describing how it feels to use Auslan to communicate or to watch Auslan being used by others, for example by responding to questions such as What are the main differences you notice when observing conversations between hearing people and between deaf people?

  • discussing changes or adaptations they make to their communicative style when using Auslan, for example waiting until they have a deaf person’s visual attention before signing to them, maintaining eye contact when the other person is signing to them

Systems of language

Recognise that meaning can be expressed through English words or Auslan signs and that signs have set handshapes, movements and locations, and identify and reproduce them independently

[Key concepts: handshape, movement, location, iconicity; Key processes: identifying, noticing, recognising, understanding] (ACLASFU138 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • realising that meaning is communicated through the use of signs, pictures, written or spoken words or miming

  • identifying the handshape of a sign, for example, COCKATOO (hs:5) and SOCCER (hs:fist)

  • recognising major types of path movements

  • understanding that sounds in English words are like handshapes, movements and locations in Auslan in the sense that they are combined together to make signs

  • noticing that in signed languages meaning can be expressed through whole signs or through fingerspelling

  • recognising that some signs are iconic, linking to the appearance of a referent, for example, HOUSE, TREE, DRINK, ELEPHANT, and that some are not, such as SISTER, WHY, SIMPLE

  • understanding that while English is spoken and heard as well as written and read, Auslan is usually uniquely ‘through the air’ and not written down

  • experimenting with different ways of recording signs, including video, writing an English word or drawing pictures

Recognise and restrict signing to the standard signing space, and understand that pronouns, depicting signs and verbs can be located meaningfully in that space

[Key concepts: signing space, verb modification, depicting signs; Key processes: noticing, identifying, recognising] (ACLASFU139 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • describing the range of signing space in normal signed discourse

  • comparing and contrasting Auslan and English pronouns

  • noticing that the beginning and end locations of some verbs can be modified to show the referents involved, for example:

    PRO1 ASK PRO3 versus PRO1 ASK-her
  • identifying what sorts of things can be represented in a DS by handshape, for example, point can mean a person or tree or pole
Recognise that groups of words are combined to make a clause and that Auslan has word classes such as nouns, adjectives or verbs, and distinguish between statements and questions

[Key concepts: sign class, clauses, statements, questions; Key processes: recognising, observing] (ACLASFU140 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • categorising noun signs into those for people, animals, places or things

  • learning that proper nouns can have a sign name or be fingerspelled

  • knowing that adjectives describe nouns in different ways, such as how they look (BIG or RED), feel (SOFT or HOT), smell (SMELLY) or sound (LOUD)

  • identifying verb signs (SIT, EAT, FEEL, WONDER, HAVE) and recognising that they are central to a clause

  • noticing there is no equivalent of the verb ‘to be’ in Auslan, which is a significant difference to English

  • understanding that a clause is one or more signs expressing a single idea and that a clause has at least one verb, but often one or more nouns as well, for example:

    I called him.
    That man went to his house.
    A big monster screamed.
  • recognising different nouns in clauses, including those that are shown with a pointing sign, such as GIRL READ versus PRO3 READ, or VISIT FRIEND versus VISIT PRO3

  • noticing that Auslan has more flexibility in word order than in English

  • distinguishing between clauses that are statements and those that are questions

Understand that texts are made up of units of meaning such as groups of words or sentences and that different types of texts have different features that help serve their purpose

[Key concepts: text, text types; Key processes: recognising, noticing] (ACLASFU141 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • recognising that texts are created to achieve different purposes, for example some texts tell stories or entertain while others give information

  • noticing differences in facial expressions of a signer when presenting different types of text, for example a procedure versus a narrative

Language variation and change

Understand that all languages including signed languages vary and borrow words and signs from each other

[Key concepts: language borrowing, variation; Key processes: noticing, recognising] (ACLASFU142 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • understanding that there are two main Auslan dialects: the southern dialect used in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory; and the northern dialect used in New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory

  • viewing videoed examples of Auslan signers from different parts of Australia, identifying the different signs used in southern and northern dialects, for example, signs for colours and some numbers

  • noticing that words such as proper nouns for names of people, places or schools are borrowed from English by fingerspelling and mouthing, but some also have sign names

  • recognising that Auslan borrows from other languages just as English does, and collecting words and signs used in their everyday lives that come from different signed and spoken languages

  • noticing the variation in ‘handedness’ between signers in relation to signs and fingerspelling: right handers using their right hand as their dominant (main) hand; left handers doing the opposite

Language awareness

Recognise that Auslan is a legitimate language, one of many languages used in Australia and around the world

[Key concepts: language diversity, difference, vitality; Key processes: identifying, exploring, recognising] (ACLASFU143 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • Intercultural Understanding
  • identifying different languages used by their classmates or members of their families, for example by creating a class profile or language map

  • exploring similarities and differences between the many languages used in Australia and represented in the school, including spoken and signed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, and comparing the ways different languages use writing, sound/speech, gestures, drawings, art and signs to communicate

  • recognising the unique nature of signed languages and understanding that there are many different signed languages in use around the world, including in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and that there is not one ‘universal’ signed language

  • recognising that Auslan is a legitimate language, different from mime and gestures such as those used to accompany songs in spoken languages

  • exploring why and how some people are deaf, and identifying different ways that they access language; and investigating the use of hearing aids, FM systems or cochlear implants

Role of language and culture

Notice that people use language in ways that reflect their culture, such as where and how they live, who they live with and what is important to them

[Key concepts: language, culture, community, observable phenomena; Key processes: noticing, recognising, questioning, making connections] (ACLASFU144 - Scootle )

  • Literacy
  • Intercultural Understanding
  • recognising that people from different places and backgrounds may use different languages and have ways of living and communicating that differ from their own

  • appreciating that culture and cultural difference means that people may value different things or live differently, noticing observable examples of such difference, such as ways of greeting (bowing versus shaking hands) or conveying information (through words versus signs)

  • exploring how learning Auslan involves entering into a visual world or culture, for example by exploring different connections with physical space, such as being able to communicate through windows, or from a distance

  • exploring how deaf people live in ways that may be different from how hearing people live, for example by responding to stimulus questions such as How do deaf people ensure they can always see other people who are signing? How do deaf people watch movies or television programs?

  • recognising the importance of facial expression, eye gaze and NMFs in conveying information in a visual-gestural language and culture

  • recognising the importance of community and culture in relation to their own lives and communities and in relation to other language groups and their communities

Foundation to Year 2 Achievement Standards

By the end of Year 2, students interact with teachers and each other to talk about themselves, their families, friends and immediate environment. They follow instructions to complete action-based activities such as signing games or transactional activities, using repeated constructions, gestures and affective non-manual features (NMFs). They interact in familiar classroom routines by responding to requests, such as DS:line-up PLEASE, LOOK-AT-me PRO1. Students ask and respond to simple questions and distinguish between statements and questions. They express likes, dislikes and feelings using lexical signs and affective NMFs. They recognise and produce fingerspelled names for roll call and games and produce modelled signs, phrases and sentence patterns in familiar contexts. They use culturally appropriate protocols, such as maintaining eye contact and responding to and gaining attention by waving or tapping a shoulder or table. They identify specific information in signed texts, such as the properties of colour, number, size or shape, and describe people and objects, for example, PRO3 5-YEARS-OLD, PRO1 HAVE 2 BROTHER, or THAT BALL BIG. Students demonstrate simple procedures using known signs, gestures, objects and list buoys. They recount and sequence shared events using familiar signs and visual prompts. They view short imaginative and expressive texts such as stories and nursery rhymes, demonstrating understanding through drawing, gesture, modelled signs or English. They use fixed handshapes in creative ways, for example to create amusing sequences of signs to enact movements, and portray characteristics through the use of constructed action. They identify similarities and differences in ways they interact when communicating in English and in Auslan.

Students know that Auslan is a language in its own right, different from mime and gestures used in spoken languages. They know that eye contact is necessary for effective communication and that meaning is communicated visually through the use of whole signs, gestures or fingerspelling. They identify and categorise signs according to handshape and they recognise major types of path movements. They know that some signs link to the appearance of a referent, for example PEN, HOUSE, and that some words, such as proper nouns, are borrowed from English by fingerspelling and mouthing. They know that locations of signs can be modified to change meaning, for example when pointing to people. They recognise the importance of facial expression, eye gaze and other NMFs in a visual-gestural language and culture and know that sign order is flexible in Auslan.