Help with multi-sensory impairment and communication

Older woman with multi-sensory impairment sitting in a cafeMakaton can help people who are living with sight and hearing loss (also known as multi-sensory impairment or deafblindness) with their communication by combining tactile signing, hands on signing, symbols and speech to help children and adults develop language skills, understand and be understood. Makaton allows individuals with deafblindness or multi-sensory impairment to communicate straight away using signs and symbols, while speech develops.

How does multi-sensory impairment affect communication?

Multi-sensory impairment or deafblindness is a sensory impairment in which a combination of sight and hearing loss affects an individual’s ability to communicate and access information. People who are deafblind often experience difficulties with communication skills resulting in a restriction of information, affecting their ability to understand and be understood. When there are communication breakdowns, children with multi-sensory impairment may develop feelings of detachment or isolation from society.

To find more information visit Deafblind UK

Young with girl playing with noisy toysHow does Makaton help people who have multi-sensory imparitment with their communication?

Some individuals who have multi-sensory impairment may find that Makaton helps them to communicate. Signs and symbols provide additional information and can be adapted for those with visual and hearing impairment.

Some individuals with multi-sensory impairment may use hands on signing, in this method the deafblind person follows the signs made by placing their hands on top of those of the signer and feeling the signs as they are formed.

Many children and adults will develop understanding ahead of their speech, which will leave them feeling frustrated as they may know what they want but are unable to express it. Others who have an acquired disability may be frustrated by reduced communication. Makaton reduced this frustration, allowing people to communicate meaningfully and effectively. This promotes inclusion and independence.

Makaton can help people with multi-sensory impairment who have difficulty with:

  • conveying their feelings, wants and needs
  • being understood
  • attention and listening
  • visual sequencing memory

Makaton opens a range of possibilities for people who have multi-sensory impairment. Learn more about Makaton

How can Makaton be used in everyday life?

Makaton is extremely flexible, as it can be adapted to suit an individual’s needs and used at a level that works for them.

It can be used for a range of purposes. Some include:

  • sharing thoughts, choices and emotions
  • labelling objects, pictures, photos and places
  • participating in games and songs
  • listening to, reading and telling stories
  • creating recipes, menus and shopping lists
  • writing letters and messages
  • helping people find their way around their environment

Makaton signing is being increasingly used in mainstream and SEN specialist schools to allow all pupils to communicate effectively. Find out how Makaton works

How do I start out with Makaton?

Are you ready to take the first step and start learning Makaton? Getting started with Makaton is fun and easy. The best way to start learning Makaton is to attend Level 1 training . It means that you learn with other people, share your experiences, and practise with others. It also gives you the opportunity to meet and build a relationship with a Makaton Tutor, who can help and support you in the future. Use our quick and easy search tool to find a workshop near you  (both online and face-to-face training is available).

Makaton Membership complements and enhances training with 24/7 digital access to symbols, signs and video tutorials plus the support of our vibrant online forum, MakaChat. Membership is a valuable support tool for family and friends of Makaton Users and professionals who use Makaton in the workplace.

If you prefer to learn at your own pace, in your own time and in your own home, membership  is a great way to begin your Makaton journey. With a choice of Individual and Group Memberships, simply select the Membership that's right for you.

Visit our Membership  area to start your free 7-day trial.