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Auslan Dictionary History In Australia

We have been a keen collectors of Historical Australian Sign Language publications for a great many years now and have compiled this summary to the best of our knowledge. It is a timeline of publications, yet also serves to summarise the evolution of both the language and the educational ideals and philosophy, which naturally, has also deeply influenced Auslan. Wherever possible we have added notes about the publication, to help you to also understand the history behind the publication and the language. - Lee Bilby

Auslan History

The first group to bring Sign Language to Australia as a formal educational language were the Catholic Church, which initially was based on Irish (one handed) sign language. A very detailed history of this period is being compiled with the help of Sr Philonena Thomas, who was involved in the Warratah and Castle Hill schools for the deaf in NSW (both established in the early 1900´s). Suffice to say that the Catholic Sisters and Brothers were very influential in the education of the deaf and as such the beginnings of a signing deaf community in Australia. They produced a number of books documenting their language, which I have been honored to review with the sisters. It is worth pointing out that the Catholic schools never used Signed English.

Australian Sign Language Dictionaries

There have been many books covering signs used in this evolving language. The earliest we have found is 1943, but then there is a 28 year jump to 1971. If you know of any titles we may have missed, please contact us with as much detail as possible. We have intentionally omitted "Baby Sign" and Makaton products from this list. There is an increasing trend towards using video footage, whether delivered via video cassette, DVD, CD-Rom or website as this is a visual moving language, but the ability to take a book almost anywhere, without bateries, means that printed books remain important.

Please note that all copyright is retained by the rights holders. The material shown here is purely for reference, review and discussion.

1943How to Converse with the Deaf - in Sign LanguageTeachers of the Schools at Waratah and Castle Hill, NSW
How to Converse with the Deaf - Cover How to Converse with the Deaf - Page Contained the single-handed signed alphabet, a section of prayers and lastly a vocabulary section describing around 1100 signs, maybe 1/4 of which are accompanied by black and white photographs. It stated "As used in the Australian Catholic Schools for the Deaf"
132 pages, ISBN: None

1971Aid to Communication with the DeafVictorian School for Deaf Children
Aid to Communication with the Deaf - Cover Aid to Communication with the Deaf - Page Included approximately 1000 signs used at the school in Victoria, which were also a reflection of the signs used by the Victorian Deaf community at the time. This publication also suggested finger spelling ‘ed’ after ‘walk’ for ‘walked’ and so on, with the idea of sign ‘accompanying speech’ . You could argue that this book gave birth to the Signed English adoption of Australian Sign Language.
141 pages, ISBN: 0959883614

1976Let´s Talk With Our Handsby Garth Smith, Ann Kentwell & Rose Dyson.
Lets Talk With Our Hands - Cover Lets Talk With Our Hands - Page Subtitled: ‘N.S.W. dictionary of fingerspelling & signs for communication with deaf children.’
Featured black and white photgraphs.
Published by North Rocks Central School for Deaf Children
133pg 20 X 28cm, ISBN 0959665005 (spiral binding)

1976Word for Word - SydneyUnknown

1982Dictionary of Australasian Signs: First EditionVictorian School for Deaf Children
Dictionary of Australasian Signs - Cover Dictionary of Australasian Signs - Page This dictionary included 2,200 signs. It evolved from the ‘Australian Sign Language Development Project’. A group of Deaf and hearing people representing all states and territories in Australia, with representation from New Zealand being added later; aiming to standardise education of the deaf and document signs as in use by the deaf community on a national level. It incorporated the signs from the previously published Dictionaries (‘Aid to Communication with the Deaf’, ‘Let´s Talk with our hands’ and ‘Word for Word’.
270 pages, ISBN: 0959883630
Superceded by:
Dictionary of Australasian Signs, 2nd Edition - Cover
2nd Edition

1983Emergency signing dictionary for communicating with the deafNorthern Territory Department of Education
Emergency signing dictionary for communicating with the deaf - Cover Emergency signing dictionary for communicating with the deaf - Page A selection of signs from the ‘Dictionary of Australasian Signs’, edited by Brian Reynolds, editor of ‘Signs of Our Time’.
39 pages, ISBN: 0724508333

1987 A preliminary signing dictionary of Australian sign language (Auslan) Trevor Johnston - TAFE National Centre for Research and Development (Australia)
A preliminary signing dictionary of Australian sign language (Auslan) - Cover A preliminary signing dictionary of Australian sign language (Auslan) - Page A highly technical/academic work, very difficult to use without knowing the abbreviation system for handshapes, orientations and positions. Only occasional use of drawn images within the text. It was not bound, suggesting there was only ever a very limited number of copies made. The copy we found had been bound by the library, but 2 hole punch was obviously the origional method.
This book contains the first use of the term "Auslan" we can find, and in it's discussion pages, discusses the development of further work which became "Auslan Dictionary" in 1989
Published: Adelaide: TAFE National Centre for Research and Development, 1987 Notes: Origionally Unbound, the National Library copy has been bound, but hole punch holes are still visible. Companion volume to "A general introduction to Australian Sign Language (AUSLAN) Other title: General introduction to Australian sign language (AUSLAN) (ISBN: 0863971067) Listing from the National Library: Here
Superceeded by:
Auslan Dictionary - Cover
Auslan Dictionary

1989 Signs for Our Time (a dictionary of Religious Signs) Barry R. and Jan E. Knights
Signs for Our Time - Cover Signs for Our Time - Page Dictionary containing partial line drawings of religious signs, edited by Brian Reynolds, principal of the Victorian School for Deaf Children, and Director of Silent Partners Ministries (Baptist)
192 Pages, ISBN: 073168155X

1989 Auslan Dictionary Trevor Johnston
Auslan Dictionary - Cover Auslan Dictionary - Page This publication sort to expand on the previous dictionaries, now documenting 3500 signs, however Signed English signs and principles were still documented and strongly adopted in Australian education and Deaf community language. "Auslan signers regularly sprinkle their signing with fingerspelt English" Trevor Johnston
546 pages, ISBN: 0731650174(Hard covers)
0731647483 (paperback)
Preceeded by:
A preliminary signing dictionary of Australian sign language (Auslan) - Cover
A preliminary signing dictionary...
Superceeded by:
Signs of Australia - Cover.jpg
Signs of Australia

1989 Technical Signs For Mathematics Pam Spicer and Ian Rodgers
Technical Signs For Mathematics - Cover Technical Signs For Mathematics - Page This title used hand drawn images from ‘Auslan Dictionary’ by Trevor Johnston and another ‘Auslan Dictionary’ by Ian Rogers. The signs and knowledge came from deaf student fluent in Australian Sign Trevor Maggs, David Parker, Margaret Stewart, Paul Briscoe and Shane Mundy)
93 pages, ISBN: 0730559300

1990Dictionary of Australasian Signs: Second EditionVictorian School for Deaf Children
Dictionary of Australasian Signs, 2nd Edition - Cover Dictionary of Australasian Signs, 2nd Edition - Page Again this publication resulted from national consultation with both the deaf community and their hearing teachers; resulting in an additional 560 signs. At the time it was thought that adding ‘Signed English’ signs to assist English literacy was advantageous and desirable. Many of these signs have since been adopted by the deaf community and others have disappeared from use.
342 pages, ISBN: 0959883657
Preceeded by:
Dictionary of Australasian Signs - Cover.jpg
Edition 1

1990A Picture Dictionary of Australasian Signs - For Young ChildrenEducation Department of South Australia
Picture Dictionary of Australasian Signs - Cover Picture Dictionary of Australasian Signs - Page This book used the hand drawn images from the ‘Dictionary of Australasian Signs’, line art and performance descriptions with a vocabulary suitable for young children. We wish this had been around for our kids, but the book was never widely available. Approximately 900 words.
128 pages, ISBN: 072438166X

1996Technical Signs for Computer TermsDavid Parker and Adam Schembri
Technical Signs for Computer Terms - Cover Technical Signs for Computer Terms - Page Sample This spiral bound book includes photo based images for signs associated with everyday more complex technical and computing terms in alphabetical order. It also includes signs for common symbols like {, ~, !, @ and others.
Pages: 228, ISBN: 9780949050069

1998The VSDC Dictionary of Auslan (English to Auslan)Brian Bernal and Lyn Wilson
The VSDC Dictionary of Auslan - Cover The VSDC Dictionary of Auslan - Page A reflection of the changing times, this publication included 3100 photographed Auslan signs (signed English was removed) and noted the divergence of sign usage between southern and Northern parts of Australia that had evolved primarily around the two deaf schools.
530 pages, ISBN: 0646366432
Superceeded by:
Dictionary of Auslan Cover
Edition 1

1998Signs Of AustraliaTrevor Johnston
Signs of Australia Cover SOA - Page Sample This was the "Auslan Dictionary" of 1989, revised to become a comprehensive dictionary of 3 to 4 thousand drawn line art images. Signs where ordered by hand shape, accompanied by english meanings for the sign. This made the dictionary sign>english useful, but those working from english>sign found the english index, amongst the front pages, difficult to use.
603 pages, ISBN: 9780949050090
Preceeded by:
Auslan Dictionary - Cover
Auslan Dictionary

2003 Survival Guide to Auslan - A beginners pocket dictionary of Australian Sign Language Trevor Johnston and Adam Schembri
Survival Guide to Auslan Survival Guide to Auslan - Cover The 500 line art sign images within this book are presented in alphabetical order and include a description of how to perform the sign.
202 pages, ISBN: 9780949050137

2004 Dictionary of Auslan: with Regional Sign Variations Brian Bernal and Lyn Wilson
Dictionary of Auslan Cover Dictionary of Auslan - Page Originally "Dictionary of Australasian Signs" by Victorian College for the Deaf the title was updated with colour photographs and regional variations, revised and re-published by Deaf Children Australia (formally VSDC - Victorian Services for Deaf Children, an offshoot of VCD).
381 pages, ISBN: 9780646435398
Preceeded by:
The VSDC Dictionary of Auslan - Cover
VSDC Dictionary of Auslan

2004 The Auslan Phrase Book - A Reference to Workplace Auslan Signs Deaf Children Australia
The Auslan Phrase Book - Cover The Auslan Phrase Book - Page Sample This book was designed to be a quick reference to common workplace signs and concepts for deaf employees and their colleagues. It contains signs from the ‘Dictionary of Auslan’ selected by DCA's employment service ‘Deaf Employment Australia’
69 pages, ISBN: 0646439235

2006 Trainers Auslan Reference Bilby Publishing
Trainers Auslan Reference Cover Trainers Auslan Reference - PageA folder which contained not just a dictionary and index, but a set of worksheets, posters and information packs designed for classroom use.
The dictionary contained almost 1000 signs and the index over 5,000 english words. These sections were updated every six months until the major revision in 2010. For instance the October 2007 edition had 1100+ signs and 5800+ words.
300 pages, ISBN: 9780975779736
Superceeded by:
Trainers Auslan Reference - 2010
TAR - 2010

2007 Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 1 Bilby Publishing
Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 1 - Cover Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 1 - Page Sample The first of a series of dictionaries designed for children. With 260 drawn outline images and colour clipart. Listings where arranged by topics in such a way that a child could navigate the book without needing to read. Spiral Bound.
70 pages, ISBN: 9780975779781
Superceeded by:

Second Edition

2007 Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 2 Bilby Publishing
Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 2 - Cover Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 2 - Page Sample The first of a series of dictionaries designed for children. With 310 drawn outline images and colour clipart. Spiral Bound.
70 pages, ISBN: 9780975779798
Superceeded by:

Second Edition

2009 The Auslan Dictionary: for Teachers, Parents and Professionals Chris Bilby
The Auslan Dictionary for Teachers, Parents and Professionals - Cover The Auslan Dicationary - Page Sample Originally published as a reference section in the "Trainer's Auslan Reference" of 2007, this was expanded to become it's own title. Now with over 1400 signs, english order listings included drawn outline images along with clipart, descriptions, other english words associated with the signs (glosses), hints to help remember the sign, state and context usage notes.
This dictionary came in 2 editions, one A4 size and a half size "Pocket Edition"
172 pages, ISBN: 9781921391606
Pocket Ed. 978-1-921391-61-3
Preceeded by
Trainers Auslan Reference - 2005 Edition
2005 Edition

2009 Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 1 - Second Edition Bilby Publishing
Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 1, Second Edition - Cover Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 1, Second Edition - Page Sample The second edition added descriptions to each linsting. Now with over 300 drawn outline images and colour clipart. Topics were Farm animals, Pets, Creatures with Wings, Fish and Water Dwellers, Colours, Shapes, Drinks, Fruit and Vegetables, Places in the House, Furniture, Appliances, My Family, At the Circus, At the Park/Playground, Inside Play, Outdoor Activities and Games, Everday signs and Question Signs.
84 pages, ISBN: 9780975779781
Preview at Google Books
Preceeded by:
Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 1 - 1st Edition
1st Edition

2009 Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 2 - Second Edition Bilby Publishing
Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 2, Second Edition - Cover Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 2, Second Edition - Page Sample Now with over 320 drawn outline images and colour clipart. Entries arranged by topics: Insects and Bugs, Native Australian Animals, Emotions and Feelings, Size Texture and appearance, Time To Cook, Utensils and Crockery, Furniture, Describing People, Occupations, The Alphabet, Numbers 1 to 10 and Transport
84 pages, ISBN: 9780975779798
Preview at Google Books
Preceeded by:
Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 2 - 1st Edition
1st Edition

2009 Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 3 Bilby Publishing
Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 3, Second Edition - Cover Auslan Children's Picture Dictionary - Volume 3, Second Edition - Page Sample Over 480 drawn outline images and colour clipart. Entries are arranged by topics, but with some pages devoted to the discussion of a topic so that grammar can also be understood.
96 pages, ISBN: 9781921391538

2010 Auslan for Your Workplace Lee Bilby
Auslan for Your Workplace - Cover Auslan for Your Workplace - Page Sample Over 560 drawn outline images and 100 phrases. Includes sections introducing sign language covering such things as greetings, making requests and over 100 phrases.
100 pages, ISBN: 9781921391620
Preview at Google Books

2010 Trainers Auslan Reference Bilby Publishing
Trainers Auslan Reference Cover Trainers Auslan Reference - Page A folder containing a dictionary and index, nd also set of worksheets, posters and information packs designed for classroom use.
The dictionary and index sections are identical to "The Auslan Dictionary for Teachers, Parents and Professionals".
300 pages, ISBN: 9780975779736
Preceeded by:
Trainers Auslan Reference Cover - Cover
TAR - 2005

 
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