Shenton College students will next year become the first in WA to study sign language in Years 11 and 12, with Auslan available as a Western Australian Certificate of Education subject.
First introduced to Shenton College Deaf Education in 2014 for Year eight students only, the Auslan course has grown to include Years seven, nine and 10.
Graduating with the equivalent of a certificate IV and Diploma of Auslan, the course will allow students to apply directly to the Technical and Further Education interpreters course.
According to the WA Deaf Society, deaf children are 15 per cent less likely to finish year 12.
Shenton College Auslan curriculum leader Karen Bontempo said the move would allow deaf children to get a much better educational experience because they would be able to communicate with more of their peers.
“We have 30 deaf students here who have so many more communication partners, because there is 100 hearing kids learning Auslan formally,” she said.
The WA Deaf Society provides a language teacher to the college once a week.
WA Deaf Society chief executive officer Rebecca Adam said many people were not exposed to sign language until they were older.
“To have that happen in school, that would just make sure that all deaf children have access to the language,” she said.
With instances of hearing loss in Australia increasing to one in five people, Ms Adam said teaching Auslan in schools was a step in the right direction.
Year 10 student Jaxon Geddes said he would not have considered communicating with deaf people a possibility before learning Auslan at Shenton College.
“We’re able to communicate just as easily as some of the languages would with their native speakers,” Mr Geddes said.