Robert Adam was born deaf in Melbourne, Victoria to deaf parents: Robert 'Mac' Adam and Julia Adam (nee Brown). He has several other Deaf family members, including a sister, Rebecca Adam, an aunt, Maureen Brown and a step-mother, Lorraine Adam (nee Long). Robert went to Princess Elizabeth Junior School for Deaf Children and later Yarra Valley Grammar School where he gained his Higher School Certificate in 1986.
Robert’s involvement with the Australian Deaf Community started in 1987 when he joined the Board of the Victorian Council of Deaf People, later serving as the Council’s President from 1991 to 1994. He was also a board member of the Australian Association of the Deaf (AAD, now Deaf Australia) from 1989 until 2003 and AAD President from 1999 until 2003. In 1998 he joined the board of the NSW Association of the Deaf (NSWAD) which is now Deaf Australia (NSW) and was President from 1999 until 2003. In 1999, he was given the NSWAD Deaf Professional of the Year Award and that same year, after the XIII World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf in Brisbane, he was made a Life Member of AAD.
In addition to his community involvements, Robert Adam has also made professional contributions to the Deaf Community. In 1996, he moved to Sydney from Victoria to work for the Auslan Lexicography Project at Renwick College under the University of Newcastle/Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children. There, in 1998, he was appointed as a Lecturer in Special Education. From 2000 to 2003 he worked as Coordinator, Community Relations and Development for the Deaf Society of NSW, after serving on the Society’s board from 1999-2000. As a Deaf Community member and advocate, he represented the community on a number of government committees, including the Attorney General's Disability Advisory Council and the Department of Education and Training Disability Policy Framework Action Plan Overview Group.
In 2003, Robert left Sydney to work as Coordinator of British Sign Language courses at the City Literary Institute in London. He is currently Senior Research Associate at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre, University College London. He completed his PhD in 2013, with a thesis on contact between a minority sign language in a majority sign language community (Australian Irish Sign Language/Australian Sign Language).
Personal information from Robert Adam