Almost 20,000 people use Auslan to communicate daily but for most of Australia, the language is a mystery. This communication gap is especially apparent for hearing people and their close Deaf connections: family, friends and children.

When we were first imagined the concept around Auslan Anywhere at Expression Australia, we were working on the aspiration for our community to be able to live in an accessible, inclusive society with equal opportunity in all areas of life. We believed that progress toward achieving this would be made if basic knowledge of Auslan was a norm for all Australians. And for the Deaf people feeling included, the rule and not the exception.

For this to be achieved, the challenge of communication needed to be shared. The cause of exclusion for the Deaf and hard of hearing community is not lack of hearing, but because so few people have learned Auslan. We wanted to create a platform that was created by the Deaf community for Auslan learners, where the language from the Deaf community could be celebrated and shared.

The starting point was creating a mobile solution for learning Auslan, to make learning sign language tailored, fun and on demand to anyone, anytime.

Auslan Anywhere is a unique and innovative platform led by creators from the Deaf community. It is a centralised space for those creators to share Auslan that is current and available to learn on demand, with engaging, bite-sized educational content created and curated by the Deaf community. This incredible app puts Auslan in the hands of anyone who has an interest in learning it.

Auslan Anywhere could not have happened without the partnership between Expression Australia and the Telstra Foundation. Supported by coaches and funding from Telstra Foundation, Expression Australia set to work on facilitating this amazing innovation to help break down communication barriers between the hearing and the Deaf and hard of hearing communities.

When using Auslan Anywhere, learners can submit requests on the app and ask how words or short phrases are signed. Creators respond to learner requests by posting short videos in Auslan. Auslan Anywhere connects learners to the heart of the language by learning directly from the Deaf community.

The co-design element of Auslan Anywhere has been a key driver in the development of the app. The approach to engagement for Auslan Anywhere set a new benchmark–it was built around a co-design approach that more meaningfully factored for community participation, and truly empowered creators to bring forth their ideas.

We’re so proud of this collaborative process bringing together corporate partners, creators from our Deaf community, app developers and a big internal team at Expression Australia.

The success of the collaboration has been acknowledged by Telstra who have been so generous with their time and resources and also in the Victorian Premier’s Design Awards.

We look forward to continued collaboration and more and more content on the app to really make Auslan Anywhere an enduring success story.