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Auslan Dictionary

Our Auslan Dictionary is a free, user-friendly resource containing an extensive alphabetical list of signs commonly used by Deaf people in catholic religious settings in Australia.

This resource is suitable for deaf and hearing people, Auslan interpreters, clergy and anyone interested in learning about signs for religious settings or learning ways to grow their faith using Auslan.


The ‘Religious Signs Project’ was conceived by the John Pierce Centre in Melbourne in 2017 and the signs were filmed in consultation with the Deaf Catholic community of Melbourne and Sydney as well as the Deaf Pastoral Team at JPC.

The resource will continue to be a living project, managed by the John Pierce Centre (Melbourne) and the Ephpheta Centre (Sydney).

We will include any sign that is genuinely used by the Australian Deaf community in Christian churches and we welcome any feedback and information about the distribution and use of any sign. (See the feedback box next to each video of each sign). Although JPC and Ephpheta Centre are primarily Catholic organisations, the dictionary includes some signs from other Christian churches and communities.


With each video of a sign you will see an explanation box. Here, we unpack the meaning of the idea which the sign communicates. There is also a distribution box, explaining which parts of Australia and which churches/communities use that particular sign.


The majority of signs are recognised as Auslan (‘Australian Sign Language’ is the sign language used by the Australian Deaf community) however it is important to acknowledge the history of Deaf Catholics in Australia and their British, Irish and American influences (from the Catholic Church and from Education bodies).

Furthermore, we respect and acknowledge that each Deaf Christian may have a version of a sign that is not represented here.


The dictionary is not a place for religious arguments.

  • If you want to know more about the work of the John Pierce Centre or the Ephpheta Centre – please get in contact.

  • If you would like to learn more about the Australian Deaf Community, visit Deaf Australia.

  • If you want to know more about the history of sign language in the Deaf Catholic communities, please read JPC History and Ephpheta Centre History of Deaf in NSW



JPC would like to thank the Deafness Foundation for their support behind the production of this resource.


Special mention to Fr John Hill (ex-chaplain of JPC) for his initiative, commitment and support of the Religious Signs Project and to the members of the Deaf community who have volunteered their time to be filmed in these videos.

A-Z List of Signs

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