International Year of Disabled Persons

The International Year of Disabled Persons was a watershed year for disability rights and for the Deaf Community.

IYDP marked the beginning of a decade of a growing sense of pride in deaf culture and sign language. This led to exciting developments in the 1980s such as the beginnings of signing classes (mainly Signed English) at TAFE colleges, the coining of the term “Auslan”, the publication of the first Auslan dictionary, and the recognition of Australian Sign Language in a Government white paper on community languages. The shift towards acceptance of a multicultural society hastened the acceptance of Auslan and deaf culture in Australian society. An increased number of deaf people were recognised for their contributions, most notably Dorothy Shaw, who received an Order of Australia Medal in 1987.

Concerned Deaf for Total Communication in Education’

'Concerned Deaf' became a persistent and effective lobby group of deaf people and supporters, focusing on improving education for deaf children and advocating for more acceptance of Total Communication and (later) Australian Sign Language.


Charlene Grace remembers Prince Charles' visit
for the International Year of Disabled Persons.