Learn together through Auslan and English
with OpenAccess Face to Face
Learn together through Auslan and English
who are hard of hearing
who are Deaf and use Auslan
The ability to communicate is our most human characteristic. It’s essential to learning, working, and social interaction.
However, for the one in six Australians affected by hearing loss, a real problem — one that is overlooked and even ignored — is the impact this has on their educational opportunities.
One of the major barriers for people who are Deaf and hearing is the need to communicate with teachers, family and friends; the flexibility to have quick conversation between Auslan and English.
Introducing OpenAccess Face to Face. A free iPad app supporting communication between deaf and hearing people
Communication barriers are broken down as Deaf and hearing people are able to communicate across languages with instant English to Auslan interactions, increasing learning and literacy opportunities.
Conexu believes communication barriers should never stop people from reaching their potential.
We are a national non-profit organisation, and experts in both technology and communication access. It’s our whole focus.
Our purpose is to use technology to bridge the communication divide between hard of hearing, Deaf or speech impaired Australians and the broader community.
Since 2011, our award winning team has been developing accessible apps with our communities to overcome communication barriers using mainstream technology.
Learn about Conexu's other OpenAccess apps:
Access the arts (OpenAccess Tours)
Join the conversation (OpenAccess Chat)
for easy display
to practise, encourage and play at home, school or work
to learn together with others
for popular sayings and quick phrases
one of Australias biggest databases of Auslan
Together, Conexu and Deaf Sports Australia decided to build Australia’s first deaf sports sign dictionary housed in the face-to-face app. The app provides a way for coaches and team mates to easily learn the key signs to use to communicate during training and during the game. And it’s not just language barriers that come down. Bringing people together through learning simple Auslan (Australian Sign Language) also removes negative stereotypes and breeds acceptance. The app provides a ready reference for non-Auslan users to refer to when they’re learning or if they forget the sign.
In December 2015, athletes at the Australian Deaf Games started recording ‘draft’ signs for their sports. So far, 9 sports and over 380 signs have been captured. Auslan has local variations that must be catered for and the next step is working through the signs to find the ones that the community believes are best.
In August 2016, Conexu won a $5k grant from Sunsuper to continue working with Deaf Sports Australia on building out this sports sign content.
The OpenAccess Face to Face is currently in use at the Trade Block Cafe in St Kilda, where a bank of signs specific to ordering in the cafe was created. Deaf employees use the paired app to communicate with hearing customers as they order their morning coffee and cake. Hearing customers can also learn and practice Auslan with the support of the app and café specific signs across languages. For instance, 'one cappuccino, one sugar please'.
With more than 800 words, downloaded over 3,700 times (June 2015), the app is one of Australia’s biggest databases of Auslan and a popular standalone tool for learning Australian Sign Language.
A café environment allows students to develop general employability skills, so whether or not they continue a career in the hospitality field, they will have lots of transferrable skills that can be applied in all aspects of their life. Language is not a barrier here. This technology enables hearing people to easily communicate with the Deaf.
- Amanda Joyce, Café Manager and teacher at the Victorian College for the Deaf
I really appreciate this new app and the greater depth it gives me to be able to communicate automatically with customers in my natural language.
- Rebecca Stebbing, student at the Victorian College for the Deaf
The cafe is a very popular with hearing people. They do not have to worry about how to communicate with the Deaf staff there. The Deaf staff can see that signed order. That is an example of innovation, where it can be very successful to create a community hub. It does not matter if Deaf or hearing people come to the cafe to order their food. It has all Deaf staff, and it is giving them an opportunity to work. It works very well. I think there are good possibilities with that.
Leonie Jackson, CEO of The Deaf Society of New South Wales, as mentioned in parliament at the Standing Committee on education and employment - Small business employment 19 NOVEMBER 2015
I use OpenAccess Face to Face at work and university for my studies. Firstly, my supervisor wants to learn how to sign with me, She wants to get involved in the Deaf community to help me out and understand how to sign. I showed her OpenAccess Face to Face so she can see the signs. She can learn one word at a time or important words to help her communicate with me at work.
At university, other students in my class want to know how to sign too, so I showed them OpenAccess Face to Face and they were like, “WOW it’s great!” They see the interpreters and think they’re fantastic. They think it’s great.
- Dan Jarvis, currently studying his Master of Bsuiness and uses OpenAccess Face to Face to assist with communication
In May 2016, Conexu worked with Furlong Park School to trial Open Access Face to Face in a school setting, where Deaf students used the technology to practice Auslan and English with prompted videos.
This was very exciting with the students learning about words and signs for food, fruit, money etc. One recent experience was where we went to the shops down the road. We used the app to practice communicating with the shop staff. The students didn't know some vegetables and we found that the woman working at the shop didn't know English very well. So we were both using gestures and the app to show her the pictures of the vegetable or fruit and she learned the sign for them and signed to the students. Wonderful. The same when we were paying for the food. The shopkeeper was very excited.
- David Buchanan, Teacher at Furlong Park School for Deaf Children
I've found students have improved their communication etiquette skills, when to or when not to interrupt and also turn-taking. Their spelling and reading skills improved too. The students love their iPads, of course...we believe it would be very useful for other schools to give this program a try.
- Melissa Bryson, Teacher at Furlong Park School for Deaf Children
The person speaking English is able to choose the words or phrase they want to say and then a short, pre-recorded video shows an Auslan interpreter signing their selection. The video simultaneously plays on the other person’s iPad allowing the two parties to communicate. Users are able to string sentences together in Auslan, something you can’t do with any other app. Alternately, you can use the app on one iPad to learn at home, work or at school.
Answers to frequently asked questions.
Anyone who wants to learn or communicate in either Auslan or English for school, work or social purposes, can benefit from this learning tool. The app was developed to overcome communication barriers and support learning and communication between Deaf people and hearing people.
The app is free to download. However, downloading the video library when you initially set up the app uses data. The files are large and can take a bit of time to download, so it’s best to use Wi-Fi to minimise your data costs.
OpenAccess Face to Face requires an iPad with iOS 8.0 or later.
Getting started is easy! After downloading the app, you need to download the video library the first time you open the app. It is best to do this on a Wi-Fi network. Please set aside time for this first time as there are quite a few videos (note: you will only need to do this once). When it’s finished you can scroll through the catagories and start communicating between Auslan and English. Using the side menu, you can string together sentences and practice at home, school or out and about.