Educational Signbank

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Auslan Signbank is an online language resource for Auslan – the language of the Australian Deaf community. Educational Signbank began as a collaboration between deafConnectEd and the Victorian College of the Deaf in 2017 as a means of documenting signs used in a course on Automotive Mechanics. These signs were added to Auslan Signbank so that they were available to the wider community — especially students, teachers and interpreters working in similar areas.

deafConnectEd have continued to document subject-specific Auslan signs through a process of Deaf-led research and community consultation. The following video has information about how new content is developed, including consultation with communities of practice.

The Educational Signbank project is advised and supported by Professor Trevor Johnson (Auslan Signbank) and funded by the Victorian Government’s Department of Education and Training.

How to use Signbank

The following video shows some of the key features of Auslan Signbank – such as how to locate regional variations of signs, and how to search for Auslan signs using English key words. 


  • there may be two (or more) entries for each keyword – a definition and one or more suggested ways of expressing the keyword in Auslan.
  • you can now also watch videos in half speed or even slower. Click on the ‘1’ at the bottom of the video to change the rate.

How Signbank can support students and interpreters

Educational Signbank provides students and Auslan interpreters with:

  1. a definition of educational terms in plain English and in Auslan
  2. a suggested way of expressing this concept in Auslan. Often this is not an Auslan sign but a depicting sign, which represents some feature of the concept. In some cases there may be a number of suggested depicting signs to choose from, as well as regional variations. 
Screen grab showing how to select the Dictionary option from the Signbank menu on the Auslan Signbank homepage

You can locate subject-specific content by navigating to the Auslan Signbank Dictionary search page.

Select a category from the drop-down menu on the left-hand side of the page
·      you can view all signs associated with that category
·      OR, can search within that category using an English key word

A student enrolled in Certificate III Commercial Cookery might find a range of suggested depicting signs and definitions in Auslan by searching in the general topic area COOKING.They will find a range of lexical signs, depicting signs and some specialised English cooking terminology with a definition in Auslan (E.G. BOILSIEVETEMPERATURE DANGER ZONE)
An Auslan interpreter who is working with a student upgrading their qualification in Community Services will find terms related to that area of study by searching under categories for FAMILY, HEALTH and LAW ( IE: ADOPTADVOCACYSERVICE PROVIDER)

Topics covered by Educational Signbank are listed below with suggested search categories.  A list of signs relating to Family Violence is currently in the final stages of review and will be published soon.

Educational Signbank TopicSuggested search categories
Automotive mechanicsEDUCATIONCAR
Commercial cookery and HospitalityEDUCATIONCOOKING also FOODWORK
Language and literacy, study terminologyEDUCATIONMETALG (‘metalanguage’) also LANGUAGE ACT
Workplace health and safetyEDUCATIONHEALTH also WORKLAW
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)DEAFHEALTHGOVERNMENT
Student wellbeingHEALTHMIND

The development of Signbank

Auslan Signbank was developed by Professor Trevor Johnston and consists of an online dictionary of Auslan as well as a growing range of other language resources.

Professor Johnson discusses how Signbank was established and has developed over time in the interview below.