Over 100 years of Australian Deaf heritage digitised in Australia’s first Deaf History Collections

Published on: 16th February 2024

16 February 2024, marks a significant day in the preservation of Australia’s cultural heritage, with the launch of a new website, showcasing over a century of historical photos, records and artefacts from the Australian d/Deaf community.

A working group made up of Deaf Connect and Deaf Australia created the website titled “Deaf History Collections” to showcase the rich treasure trove of artefacts from Deaf organisations and community members nationally.

The Deaf History Collections is a free online resource – a digital time capsule; preserving the vibrant culture and stories of the Australian d/Deaf community for generations to come.

At launch, users are invited to immerse themselves in over 300 artefacts, including historical photos, documents, films, and records from Deaf organisations dating as far back as the 18th century.

To celebrate the website going live, an event was hosted at the University of Sydney, where Deaf organisations, community members, state and territory representatives from seniors groups and invited guests were taken on a journey through the website, which launched publicly on Friday 16 February.

Deaf Connect Chief Executive Officer Brett Casey stated that the repository will provide the Australian d/Deaf community with an opportunity to ensure our stories, photos and videos are available to our community, and educate the wider Australian society about our community, culture and language.

“The Australian d/Deaf community has an incredibly rich and storied history, and Deaf Connect is proud to invest in the development of this website, which strongly aligns with our strategic vision and commitment to Deaf History”, Mr Casey says.

“Through the Deaf History Collections, current and future generations can celebrate the journey of the Australian d/Deaf community.

“The website will continue to expand as we collaborate across the Deaf sector and community to add stories and materials over the coming years.”

The Deaf History Collections will also serve as a valuable resource hub for students, teachers, and the wider community, including historians. A series of ready-to-download lesson plans have been created with activities covering a range of subjects and grade levels.

By centralising the community’s resources, the website will enhance the sustainability of historical record-keeping and introduce all Australians to a critical part of our history that is otherwise forgotten.

Dr Breda Carty AO (pictured above), a deaf historian who has worked closely on the project, said, like all minority groups, it’s important for d/Deaf people to reclaim our history, to discover how the past was experienced by people like ourselves.

“We are excited about the potential of this website to reach d/Deaf and hard of hearing people and those who wish to learn more about us. It allows us to tell our own stories, to reflect on the d/Deaf people who shaped our language and community, who were our leaders, artists, sportspeople and advocates. We hope these stories will reach young deaf and hard of hearing people and their families.”

The National Repository is the nation’s first comprehensive online collection of Australian Deaf History. This collaborative effort reflects a shared commitment from Deaf Connect, Deaf Australia and many community organisations to preserve, share, and celebrate Australian Deaf History. We invite all Australians to explore this invaluable digital archive.

Please see the Deaf History Collection website here.

Watch the Deaf History Collection Launch event here.

Media Opportunities
For all media enquiries contact: Ian Harvey Ross, Head of Marketing and Sales
0407 180 710 or [email protected]

Deaf Connect offer interpreting services for Auslan representation across all media.
Interviews and comment are available from Mr Brett Casey, CEO Deaf Connect


Deaf Connect is the largest whole-of-life service provider and social impact organisation for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing Australians. We stand with the Deaf community to build capacity and influence social change while paying respect to history, culture and language.

We are the largest employer of Deaf and hard-of-hearing people in Australia, a registered provider under the National Disability Insurance Scheme and an approved provider of in-home care for seniors. Deaf Connect is the country’s largest Auslan interpreting agency and provides training in sign language through our RTO (RTO Provider Number 41192).


Deaf Australia was founded in 1986 as a not-for-profit organisation that represents all Deaf, Deafblind, and hard of hearing people, and others who are fluent and knowledgeable about Auslan. The focus has and continues to be on developing access to information and accessible communication. We work with Australian governments and collaborate with key stakeholders to make sure that Australia complies with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UN Convention and the National Disability Strategy guides our work; we aspire to achieve equity for Deaf people across all areas of life.

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