Whether you’re a child, or a child at heart, you probably have heard of Bluey. The loveable preschool show about a dog family in Australia has been delighting audiences from all around the world. But earlier this week, a special episode premiered and introduced children to a special new friend named Dougie.
The episode in question is titled “Turtleboy”, and is follows a stuffed turtle that was left at the park. When little sister Bingo and father Bandit (voiced by David McCormack) come across the lost toy, they have a grand time with “Turtleboy”, but then leave the toy for his owner to show up. This is where Dougie makes his grand debut, along with his mom (voiced by Miranda Tapsell). Right away we learn that Dougie is deaf and communicates with his mother using Auslan (Australian sign language). Dougie and his mom play with Turtleboy with equal eagerness, but also choose to leave the toy at the park in case his owners come looking for him. The episode is clear to show that despite Dougie having a disability, he likes to have fun and play the same type of games Bingo does.
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According to news.com.au, the episode premiered on ABC Kids. But a special version of the episode was made available on ABC iview. This version featured an Auslan interpreter in the corner of the screen!
Deaf Connect, an organization that focuses on empowering and supporting Deaf Australians, played a special role in the production of the episode. Not only did they work with Ludo, the studio behind Bluey, but they also worked with ABC on ABC on the Auslan translated version of the episode. Sam Moor, producer of Bluey, spoke with news.com.au on the production of the episode.
“We worked extensively with Deaf Connect who introduced us to interpreters and kids from the deaf community to help us understand their language. The designers and animaters worked with deaf Auslan users to help get the correct hand shapes and signs to make the episode as accurate as possible. Because the characters only have four fingers, this made it a little tricky for some of the signs to be completely accurate.”
Games for Everyone!
This isn’t the first time Bluey has given representation to the disabled community. In season 2, audiences were introduced to Jack in the episode “Army”. Jack has trouble ‘doing as he’s told’, sitting still, and making friends. While it’s never explicitly stated in the show, it’s a pretty clear representation of ADHD. But as the episode continues, Jack meets another kid named Rusty, who invites him to play army. Jack admits that he has a hard time following instructions, but Rusty gives him confidence and friendship.
Bluey continues to be a show that delights both children and adults. The show made its initial premiere in 2018 on ABC Kids and has taken the world by storm. Currently, the first two seasons are available on Disney+. Season 3 has yet to be announced for release on the streaming service, but will likely make its way over there upon its completion.