Key Word Sign Australia – Auslan Resource

By Scope (Aust) Ltd

Key Word Sign Australia – Auslan Resource

Key Word Sign (KWS) is a communication strategy used to support understanding and encourage language in children and adults with communication difficulties. Short clear sentences are spoken and the important key words are signed at the same time. The vocabulary selected for this app represents words of the highest frequency that are used in conversation across age groups and situations.

Key Word Sign Australia is an app that has been designed for anyone supporting children, adolescents and adults who use Key Word Sign as a form of communication. The app is developed by Scope Victoria a non for profit organisation supporting children and adults with disability and support needs. This app is specifically helpful for people on the autism spectrum with communication difficulties. This app can help enhance the understanding of KWS and the training process of support staff, family members and the clients themselves by having a reference point and a selection of KWS that are readily available.

The app contains;

  • Video clips of finger spelling for each letter of the alphabet
  • Video clips of numbers from 1-100
  • Video clips of 80 interactive vocabulary signs such as angry, bad, different, DVD, drink, like etc (videos repeat word 3 times while explicitly showing the gesture with the word).
  • A camera roll function where a video clip or photo of an individual’s sign can be included/stored in the App
  • A Library of Auslan signs and a Library of Widgit symbols so users can make own communication resources.
  • Templates to allow symbols, line drawings of signs and photos from the camera roll to be developed into posters or handouts (and printed out)
  • Ability to wirelessly print resources

The app also considers regional variations of signs depending on the state NT= Northern Territory; Q=Queensland; S=South Australia; T=Tasmania; V=Victoria; W=Western Australia).

Key Word Sign Australia – Auslan Resource

What we think

The app was developed through research conducted at the Scope Organisation. The app was designed for use in incorporating KWS into communication as a handy device to develop personalised KWS resources while helping the user and the communication partner become familiar with a range of signs.

Yes. The app has video instructions that are very explicit. The images representing KWS have written instructions underneath. The layout is simple and user friendly and there is a user guide included which makes it easy to navigate through the app and refer back to.

While the goals are not explicitly laid out for the user, they can start off using the app as simply as they would like.  For example, some users may begin using one grid or learning individual letters or numbers. These skills can be built up over time in order to increase the number of KWS to suit the learner.

No, it showcases correct and personalised use of KWS but there is no motivator within the app.

The app could be used by a range of people as it is quite visual.

Yes, this app gives user the options to;

Create a book:

  • This section allows a user to create a book of Auslan signs as an entire dictionary, from a range of categories or as a selection of individual signs that are meaningful for them.

Video a View

  • Allows the user to watch selected videos of KWS including interactive/core vocabulary and signs for finger spelling and for numbers. Users can also create their own video of KWS that are relevant to them. Videos can be uploaded from previous recordings on the iPad or can be recorded on the spot. If a KWS video is not available inside the app, then a link will appear which will enable the user to search the sign to look through the full Auslan sign bank (internet needed for this).

Creating a grid

  • Allows the user to create a resource (change font size, type and colours using a sign, photo, widget) within grids and icons by populating a grid with signs and photos from own personal camera roll.
  • Users have the choice to email their book/ grid directly from the iPad. The app enables the user to custom the size and layout in order to determine how many rows and column they would like to appear on each page.

Consumers can also have the option to export the whole dictionary which will allow access to the whole library of Auslan signs.

There are also export options such as hiding text, hiding image and hiding descriptions.

Yes, the app appears to provide clients, support staff and family members who are inexperienced or who want to develop their KWS with simple and effective ways to learn and understand KWS. The videos are very helpful and give users the opportunity to perfect their KWS skills.

By continuously building upon and adding to the available KWS video library in order to expand KWS options. If KWS isn’t available in the library and if the users are in a position where they do not have access to the internet then they are limited in the number of KWS they have access to.

  • Users are able to personalise grids
  • Create specific grids to suit their communication
  • Have direct access to external library of Auslan signs
  • Can create own videos and images to add to their grids/ app, giving the KWS user a sense of ownership.
  • Provided videos are simple and effective in order to enable all users to learn interactively and replay to solidify skill.
  • Learning is relevant for the speaker and the listener


View in iTunes
Evidence base / Theoretical underpinning:
Ease of use:
Multi-purpose tool:
Use of motivators / rewards:
Personalisation / Individualisation:
Value for money:


Age Ranges: Adult, School-Age, Early Years

Curriculum: Literacy, Personal & Social

Speak now

You are now being re-directed to the Autism Association of Western Australia’s main website