Easy as ABC – meet Amy and Little Mx Auslan
Deaf Services and the Deaf Society was thrilled to recently provide a significant donation to a fundraiser by Deaf author Amy McEwing, to fund the design and publication of her picture book ABC Fingerspelling, an alphabet book for Deaf, hard of hearing and hearing children to learn the basics of Auslan through colourful and inclusive illustrations.
The idea for the book came from drawings Amy created for her children: bright illustrations of hands making the handshapes of the Auslan alphabet.
“We did them on the iPad first and then printed them into a poster and flashcards,” Amy says. “I was getting lots of positive comments from people who saw it, saying I should turn them into a book.”
Overwhelmed by the online advice on how to make a book, Amy asked her Facebook friends for advice, and was put in touch with Deaf author Kerrie Taylor, who gave Amy “footprints to follow” for her own publishing journey.
“Kerrie gave me the most fantastic advice on how to create my book,” says Amy. “She put me in touch with the team who helped make the book what it is – Graphic Designer Nikhil Bora, Editor Catherine Miller, Auslan Consultants James Blyth and Darlene Thornton.”
As Amy began to understand the long and involved process of producing a book, she also saw the true cost associated with it.
“I had some savings, but couldn’t afford what it would take to print my goal of 400-600 books,” she says. “So I set up a fundraiser on a website called Chuffed, which would allow the full donation amount to go straight to book production.”
Amy was stunned by the response from her community, raising $3,500 in time for typesetting and design to begin on her book. This amount included $1,030 from the Deaf Services and the Deaf Society Community Grants Program.
“I would like to express my thanks to the Australian Deaf community and donors for their wonderful support,” says Amy. “I am especially grateful for the support shown by Deaf Services and the Deaf Society. The generosity shown towards this book will make a huge difference to Deaf and hard of hearing children, their families and children who wish to learn Auslan."
Learning Auslan at a young age is something close to Amy’s heart, as someone who was born profoundly deaf to hearing parents.
“Growing up in the 80s in New Zealand, I was lucky to have access to bilingual learning,” Amy explains. “Education then was mainly restricted to oral learning, but I was lucky that my mum’s background as a nurse gave her insight into the importance of giving me options and she made sure I was supported.”
Amy moved to Australia in 1998, connected with the Australian Deaf community “immediately” and adopted Auslan as her language.
In July 2021, Amy launched her own business, and her new identity – Little Mx Auslan! As Little Mx Auslan, Amy teaches Auslan to children and families through play-based activities and resources.
“My favourite part of being Little Mx Auslan is when a child lights up and discovers a new sign, and their family sees it too,” says Amy. “These discoveries all add up to a child discovering their identity and their language.”
“I sometimes see myself in the kids when I was their age, with parents worried about their future, but I’m here to empower them and tell them it will be okay.”
To buy a copy of ABC Fingerspelling, go to: https://littlemxauslan.com.au/
You can also find Little Mx Auslan on social media: