Sally & Possum
Each year, over two thousand Australian children are born profoundly deaf or with a hearing impairment. Learning is hard for these children and they face countless challenges in the classroom. Many graduate from high school with the literacy and numeracy skills of a typical nine-year-old, an unfair and tragic waste of human potential.
brief task at hand
Working in collaboration with the Queensland Department of Education, it was our job to create an engaging educational resource that used Australian Sign Language (Auslan) to teach literacy and numeracy to deaf and hearing-impaired children aged 4 to 8.
solution our approach
An Australian first multiplatform series targeting pre-prep literacy and numeracy, delivered exclusively using Auslan.
Applying the benefits of an education project that spans several media platforms, our channels included:
- 30 television episodes across 2 seasons
- Custom app
- Unique website
- School resource pack
All elements were created exclusively in-house at Khemistry, including writing, production and post production.
Sally & Possum Television
Bringing our characters to life, we enlisted the help of Sally Strobridge and Melven Ratcliffe - two highly esteemed personalities in the deaf community with experience in early childhood education, to become Sally & Possum.
Special Guests Television
In each episode, Sally & Possum were joined by ‘real kids’ with hearing impairments. The kids from Yeerongpilly’s early childhood development program played a critical role in the learning process. Sally, Possum and the kids were also treated to guest appearances from the likes of Play School’s Jay Laga'aia.
Set Design Television
Research showed that depicting familiar, every day relatable scenes and subjects for our audience was vitally important. So we created two full scale and real life sets – a kitchen / dining room and a suburban backyard.
Sally’s Kitchen Television
This is where our host lived. It provided a location for arts and craft activities and cooking. It also gave us an opportunity to make the house ‘deaf friendly’ – with doorbells that trigger flashing lights.
Possum’s Tree Television
Possum’s home was a hollow tree. A bit like Oscar the Grouch’s garbage can, Possum’s tree was impossibly bigger on the inside than the outside. Possum’s tree received special treatment with a little help from a professional set designer for Pirates of the Caribbean!
Production & Post Production Television
Our nimble film production team jumped between their seats and the sets to seamlessly bring our stories to life. This included animation, sound design (complete Foley stage), voice recording and film editing.
Episodes were a combination of animation and live action. Live action scenes were shot on location with real kids, while the animations were created in-house. This included the creation and animation of hundreds of hand-crafted, paper-cut-out assets.
Complemented by the Queensland kindergarten curriculum and using play based learning, scripts aided Sally & Possum to find fun-filled solutions to everyday problems - all while boosting literacy and numeracy proficiency. Episode themes and experiences were deliberately made to resonate with that of a kindergarten child’s world.
App play to learn
Our target audience learn and communicate with their hands. So it made perfect sense to deliver Sally & Possum’s entertaining and educational content via a custom built app.
The app featured a series of exciting and educational games, all with a literacy and numeracy focus.
Website online learning
Housing all 30 episodes as well as information for adults, the site made a fantastic resource for both young and old. WCAG 2.0 AA compliant, the site adhered to strict usability guidelines set by Queensland Government. This ensured the site was fully accessible for every person, including vision and hearing impaired internet users.
learning support collateral
Relevant and accessible. These two objectives drove content creation and delivery.
Exclusively in Auslan, our content was categorically relevant. In addition to the TV series, apps and website, we also made a resources pack for educators and parents. In this themed pack, sent to schools Queensland-wide, were posters and DVDs. Promotional collateral was also created for special events.
results two thumbs up
A flagship project for the Queensland Government and Khemistry, Sally & Possum launched to an overwhelming response from children, parents and educators. So much so, that ABC Kids picked-up the series and aired episode 1, season 1 on June 6th, 2016.
Love Sally & Possum. Please keep it going! My son is deaf with cochlear implants. He got so excited when he first watched it yesterday. And said to me same as me mummy! Seeing other kiddies wearing hearing aids/cochlear implants...
Thank you so much for making shows like Sally & Possum. My 2 year old has a hearing loss and shows like this are so important to normalise hearing loss and auslan in our community!!
Thank you so much for Sally and Possum. My hearing impaired daughter beamed throughout the whole show and wanted to watch it again immediately. Her siblings also enjoyed the show and the chance to practice their sign...
Thank you so much for Sally and Possum! I have 3 deaf children who are learning Auslan. They just love it and we’re watching it on repeat.