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This October 10, let your fingers do the talking!

Communication is a human right!

Did you know that 1.2 million Australians have a communication disability? That means they have difficulty understanding what others are saying, and/or getting their message across to others. At least one (1) in seven (7) of those people will need formal assistance in communicating, with the majority made up of children and older people. 50% of these people do not have a formal means of communication. Three (3) in five (5) of these people are children.

Imagine how you would feel if you were trying to get a message across and no one could understand you!

What is Key Word Sign?

A boy wearing a white top is learning Key Word Sign

Key Word Sign is a form of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). That means it is a tool or strategy that can be used to support children and adults with communication difficulties to understand and get their message across to others.

Key Word Sign (KWS) adds signs to spoken words. The key words in a spoken message are signed. KWS is not a sign language, but it borrows the signs from the sign language of the country it is used in. In Australia this is Auslan.

KWS builds on the use of natural gesture and can support understanding and language development. You can read more about KWS and how it is helpful here.

10th of October is Key Word Sign Awareness Day

KWS Awareness Day falls on the 10th day of the 10th month, because of our 10 fingers that are so good to sign with!

Key Word Sign Australia created Key Word Sign Awareness Day back in 2017 to spread the word about this simple and effective way of communicating for adults and children with speech, language, and communication difficulties.

KWS can be used with other forms of AAC like communication boards, picture boards and books. Many children and adults use KWS as a primary form of communication, or to communicate quickly and easily with their family and friends.

The most important factor in KWS (and any AAC tool) being successful is YOU, the communication partner! The person needs to see KWS being used around them, in different situations, by different people.

Here is how you can make a difference:

  • Have a conversation using Key Word Sign. Check out the Key Word Sign videos on our YouTube channel for some examples.
  • Want to learn to sign a song? You’ll find videos and sign guides for songs for children and adults here. You can even start practising how to sign your Christmas carols!
  • Don’t want to sign a song? What about reading a story book to a child with KWS or signing while playing a game?

We invite everyone interested in Key Word Sign to do something to mark this day, and on every day. Let your fingers do the talking, and Happy Signing!


Message from the CEO

As with any new year, we are off to a racing start at Scope. I hope you were able to spend some precious time with your family and friends during the Christmas and New Year period. I’d like to say a personal ‘thank you’ to donors for your generosity during our Christmas Appeal at a busy time of year. With the current financial pressures, I want to recognise your act of kindness.

Kate Mc Rae