Bluey has nailed it once again! A heartwarming season three episode, called Turtleboy is being praised for its inclusion of a deaf character and representation of the Auslan community.

In the special episode, we meet a pup called Dougie at the playground. Dougie is deaf and uses Auslan to communicate with his mum, voiced by Miranda Tapsell.

During the episode, we watch as Bingo finds a toy turtle at the playground and wants to take him home, but her dad, Bandit, says it’s not the done thing. What if his owner comes back to find him?

Later, Dougie and his mum also play with Turtleboy and decide to leave him there, too.

The episode highlights the similarities between Dougie and Bingo, showing that even though Dougie is deaf, he is like Bingo in every other way.

In Turtleboy, Bingo finds a toy turtle in the playground but her dad reminds her to not take things that don’t belong to you.

With 62 Auslan handshapes and many other signs created by spelling letters on fingers/hands, creating this beautifully inclusive episode was challenging for the Bluey creators at Ludo Studio.

To authentically create each Auslan interaction between Dougie and his mum, Ludo collaborated with consultants from Deaf Connect; Australia’s largest provider of whole-of-life support for the deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind communities.

Alex Fisher from Deaf Connect says creating animated Auslan was tricky for the Ludo Studios team.

“The characters in Bluey have four fingers on each hand, which meant we were limited in some of the signs we could use, particularly if they required fingerspelling (if there is no Auslan sign for a word, the word is spelled using letters made on fingers/hands). In addition to handshape considerations, it’s important to use correct orientation, location, movement, and non-manual features. There were a few changes made along the way to correctly reflect this after the scenes started to come together.”

Bluey is his favourite show and he easily picked out several of his favourite signs; play, home, gone, turtle!”

Chief Impact Officer at Deaf Connect, Brent Phillips says the Turtleboy episode is significant for raising awareness within the deaf community

“For deaf children, to be able to watch a Bluey episode featuring a deaf character reinforces that being deaf is positive and valued.  The majority of deaf children in Australia are born to hearing parents, and Dougie’s conversation with his mother in Auslan is a critical part of the episode. It shows the power of natural communication between parent and child.”

Watch the video below explaining why this Bluey episode is an important step in ensuring representation on screen for deaf people and Auslan users 

The Bluey Facebook community has also praised the episode for featuring Auslan and for its inclusivity.

“Thank you for turtle boy. My 5 year old suffered unknown hearing loss last year and now wears hearing aids. My favourite part about this episode is that you didn’t even make it a thing. Bluey at its best. Also I’m not crying you’re crying (yes dear, happy tears),” wrote one parent.

Added another: “This got me straight in the feels. One of our sons speaks Auslan mainly as he’s severely speech delayed and it’s so rare to see signing in cartoons. Bluey is his favourite show and he easily picked out several of his favourite signs; play, home, gone, turtle! And we learnt sweetheart together, it’s still a fairly new journey for us. So good, I hope there are more.”

“Congratulations on this beautiful episode,” commented one happy fan. “Representation matters and you nailed it today.”

One mother with a profoundly deaf son shared: “I started crying at the inclusion of Auslan. I looked at my son and he was grinning from ear to ear! At the end he came and gave me a hug.”