SignHow is building the Australia's largest deaf community sign language dictionary.
Right now, we have:
5120 signs in Auslan
504 categories, dialects and locations
150 deaf and deafblind people and their signs on the platform, all use a sign language in their daily lives
2225 members in our online community that use SignHow to learn and be exposed to a wide variety of signs used by communities across Australia.
3 signing parties where local deaf communities have come together to collaborate, discuss and record signs seen and used within their communities.
We believe it's important to show signs in their natural form signed by Deaf communities. There are over 300 different sign languages worldwide, including deafblind and indigenous sign languages. Sign languages also vary from one country to another, with some being recognised as community languages such as Auslan (Australian sign language), while others may have stronger recognition like NZSL (New Zealand Sign Language).
We do this by collaborating with deaf people in local communities who are fluent in any sign language. Deaf people represented on SignHow are from all ages, backgrounds, genders and locations.
Our current goals
SignHow is creating exposure to a huge range of local community signs and variations - a great tool to aid your learning with your deaf community! We are currently working on:
Capture a wide variety of signs by deaf people living across Australia
Record signs and strategies used by deafblind Australians
Collaborate with Deaf Australian seniors to preserve older Auslan signs
Building better learning features that are beneficial for everyone
If you are Deaf and want to contribute signs, or know a Deaf person who would be interested in adding signs with our deaf team, please complete this referral form for us to get in touch! If you want to support our vision faster, please consider joining as a standard member here. The more standard members join, the more signs we can add each month.
How are the signs added?
Our team have two current processes:
We organise small signing parties around Australia where there are strong deaf communities and we have Auslan consultants on site to support each deaf person film, edit, review and upload signs onto SignHow.
Collaborate with certain Deaf people to add signs related to their area of expertise and/or experience.
Who are the people adding signs onto SignHow? Our team collaborate in small groups of 5-15 Deaf people to discuss, film, review and upload signs onto SignHow.
We take in factors such as each deaf person’s fluency, knowledge, background, expertise in specific topics. All Deaf people who we invite to add signs have to meet the minimum level of fluency to contribute signs to SignHow. If not ready, we encourage Deaf people to keep improving their signing skills so that one day, they can also be represented on SignHow as part of the authentic Deaf community and part of their community sign language.
We also build word lists for each Deaf person, ensuring to match certain signs with their current fluency, knowledge and skills. This ensures every deaf person feels confident signing to the best of their ability and happy to represent themselves as part of the deaf community on SignHow.
We include Deaf people from all ages, genders, locations and backgrounds. We believe this diversity shown on SignHow is important: it shows authentic representation of the Deaf community in a country - showing older signs to newer signs, dialects, accents and signing styles.
This means SignHow does not exclude deaf people to represent on SignHow. This platform is a community resource made by the deaf community for everyone to learn from. In addition, we work to ensure Deaf people are fairly compensated for their work on SignHow, this is not voluntary work unless specified otherwise.
If you are looking for a linguistic-based resource in Auslan, we recommend Signbank. However, please note that Signbank does not have all the linguistic indicators such as facial expressions, mouthing and body movement, variations and modified signs. It is a bank of common Auslan signs for linguistic research purposes. These missing features are crucial to many sign languages such as Auslan. This is why SignHow shows signs in full embodiment. We believe that this is a more true representation of signs commonly seen around the deaf communities, and less confusing for many people wanting to improve their signing skills.
How signs are checked
SignHow is constantly improving its process of adding and documenting signs with local deaf communities. We acknowledge that this is not a perfect resource, and we rely on feedback from active and strong deaf community members to identify signs to improve on SignHow.
Checking other research backed sign language resources
Checking with Deaf individuals and groups on Facebook, Instagram and reliable resources moderated by the Deaf community
Checking with local deaf people to verify that they use the signs in that location
SignHow checks every sign that is on our platform and our intention is to ensure all signs are correct and relevant to our members. Please be mindful that there are often variations of sign, and we include on SignHow if they are common variations. However, if you think a sign needs to be reviewed, please flag it with us by contacting us here.