Safe, high-quality healthcare is important for all people in Victoria. All hospital patients have the right to be informed about services and treatment options available to them. All patients must give free and informed consent before they receive any medical treatment.

Auslan (Australian Sign Language) is the first language for nearly 3000 people in Victoria and many more Victorians are hard of hearing. Patients who are deaf, hard of hearing or deafblind may require Auslan interpreters or other communication adjustments in order to access hospital services on an equal basis to others. This can include providing patients with Auslan interpreters and other communication supports.

Failing to provide Auslan interpreters and other communication supports may be against the law under the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010. Public hospitals also have obligations under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (‘the Charter’).

Developed by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, Signs for Health provides the following:

Discrimination against people who are deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind is also prohibited under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Information about the Disability Discrimination Act can be found on the Australian Human Rights Commission website.


For many people deafness is a cultural distinction, not a medical one, and for that reason some people use the uppercase 'D' to refer to the Deaf community, especially those who use Auslan as a first language. The Commission acknowledges the importance of this distinction. In an effort to be as inclusive as possible, this resource typically uses the lower case 'd' as an adjective that includes all people who are deaf, including those who identify as culturally Deaf and those who do not.