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Performer wearing yellow uses sign language to the crowd.

Performer Emma Watkins signs during a Wiggles performance

No doubt you will remember Emma the Yellow Wiggle. She was the first female Wiggle, appointed in 2013, and has been hugely popular. Aided by her use of Auslan signing during her performances, to support deaf community audience members. Her retirement is simply another step on her focus on support Auslan users through her PhD. Yes, the Emma Watkins era of The Wiggles is coming to an end, but her impact will be felt for generations to come.

Sign language has been a major focus for the outgoing Yellow Wiggle, who cited her PhD studies in the field as a contributing factor in her decision to leave the band.

“I’m really looking forward to devoting more time and energy to focus on completing my PhD which incorporates my ongoing passion for sign language, dance and film editing, and to having more time to work with the deaf community,” Watkins said during her announcement.

Watkins grew up with two friends who were deaf, which encouraged her to learn Auslan and incorporate it into The Wiggles.

In an interview she did with Australian non-profit group The Deaf Society in 2016, she said bringing sign language into the shows was key to being able to connect with children who had hearing or verbal difficulties.