To increase the acceptance of Deafness in society, the Logie-winning children’s show Bluey introduced a Deaf character in an episode entitled “Turtleboy”, which aired on Australian television this year.
The character, named Dougie, is shown communicating with his mum using Auslan (Australian sign language).
“Turtleboy”, which aired on the ABC in June, was the result of a collaboration between the Bluey team and Deaf Connect, a leading service provider and social impact organisation for Deaf, deafblind and heard of hearing Australians.
“Deaf Connect consulted throughout the scripting and editing process,” a representative from Deaf Connect said.
The Deaf Connect team, which includes Deaf people, helped to ensure that the Auslan depicted in the show was accurate and that the dynamics of a Deaf family were portrayed authentically.
Deaf Connect also helped to develop an additional version of the episode, which featured an Auslan interpreter, available on ABC iView.
The episode has received overwhelmingly positive feedback since its airing, particularly amongst children who are Deaf.
“For Deaf children, to be able to watch a Bluey episode featuring a Deaf character reinforces that being deaf is positive and valued,” the Deaf Connect representative said.
“The inclusion of Auslan is also very significant and underlines the significant increase in interest and appreciation of Auslan developing across the nation.”
This is not the only time that Bluey has explored subject matter which is not traditionally found in children’s television. Bluey was also praised this year for the episode “Onesies”, which addresses infertility.
“We hope that for many families across the country, this is a normalisation of Deafness and may lead to greater inclusion and participation opportunities for the thousands of Deaf children and Australians.”
To find out more about Deaf Connect, please visit this link: https://deafconnect.org.au/
Markos Hasiotis is a writer and researcher based in Melbourne. He has written content for outlets around the world and volunteered for a variety of causes, including mental health, the environment, animal welfare and Meals on Wheels. His main passion is sharing facts and fighting against the forces of propaganda and misinformation.