Sally & Possum

Andy Fyffe


An Australian-first multiplatform educational series delivered exclusively using Auslan.

Queensland’s deaf children leave school with an average reading age equivalent to a hearing nineyear old. Sally & Possum is an innovative educational resource helping to bridge this gap, so that hearing impaired children can build stronger literacy foundations and enjoy better learning outcomes for the rest of their school experience.

Queensland creative company Khemistry developed Sally & Possum for the Department of Education, which had identified the lack of Australian Sign Language (Auslan) early literacy resources as an inequitable barrier for Queensland kids.

Khemistry collaborated with early learning experts to embed leading edge pedagogy. Members of the deaf community contributed Auslan expertise and advice on deaf culture and inclusion. Deaf children and educators from Brisbane schools helped test and refine early show concepts.

With this assistance and stakeholder input, Khemistry scripted and produced two seasons of 15 twelve minute video episodes, performed in Auslan, and exploring pre-literacy and numeracy concepts like ‘hot and cold’ and ‘smooth and rough’.

The episodes feature:

Characters and sets inspired by everyday life to help kids feel at home

Animated interstitials to introduce key concepts

Finger spelling cutaways to help link Auslan and English

Hands on craft and cooking activities

Entertaining narratives to keep kids engaged

Scenes of deaf and hearing-impaired Queensland kids engaged in learning, to help foster a sense of identity and belonging

English subtitles and voice overs, which can be switched on or off

Khemistry’s UX designers and software developers created mobile apps that use game-based learning to extend the episodes, which parents and teachers are using as effective learning tools. The eposides and associated activity books and games were made available via a highly engaging and accessible website, and the mobile apps were published on the app stores. Classroom resource kits were distributed to primary schools across Queensland.

The ABC children’s television team learned of the project and sought permission to broadcast the series nationally on ABC Kids and iView. Sally & Possum premiered in June this year, and triggered a flood of positive feedback from parents and educators on social media (see samples attached).

The Department of Education has been inundated with requests for DVDs from schools and families across Australia, and Khemistry has already started development on further series of Sally & Possum designed to extend the benefits into primary school.