Nursery Rhymes in Auslan?

Adapting nursery rhymes in Auslan for deaf kids: why and how.



Hello, welcome to the second Ask Me Anything related to Auslan! Someone asked me whether there is value in teaching Deaf children nursery rhymes in Auslan?
Well, I never learnt nursery rhymes when I grew up as my parents are deaf and they were not familiar with the concept.
Really, nursery rhymes are part of English, focusing on words, sounds, repetitions, and rhythms.
So it is a challenge to translate all that into Auslan. However, there were times when my children were young that I selected some nursery rhymes and modified them, and I know others have too. In adapting them to Auslan we focus on handshapes, facial expressions, repetition, and specific movements.
I’ve seen one excellent example of a Deaf signer adapting ‘Row row the Boat’ – hers was a great example of how to use selected handshapes (FLAT – for boat, down-the-stream, and fish; and FIST – for using the oars) used in repetition and with appropriately descriptive movements. I will try and add the link to that example in the comments section.
To answer whether it is worth doing it – well it depends on the deaf kids. If they are more interested in the aural part of English, go for it. However, try to pick nursery rhymes that lend themselves to adaptation in authentic Auslan – that enable you to demonstrate handshapes, facial expressions, movements and repetition as integral elements of the language, and therefore support the deaf child’s language development.
I actually would be interested to know the feedback of others on this topic.