Using Makaton overseas

Wherever Makaton is used, we form partnerships with organisations in each country that can work with us to develop a version of Makaton that is appropriate for use there.  We work together to adapt the training and to implement a programme that means that the work will be sustainable.

Please be aware that if you have been using Makaton in the UK and are planning to travel abroad to live or work, you must not use the British version of Makaton in other countries.  You will need to re-train to learn the correct signs and symbols for that country.

It is hugely important that wherever Makaton is used, that it is adapted to be appropriate for use in that country.

Using Makaton outside the UK

At the centre of the Makaton Programme is the Core Vocabulary.  The Core Vocabulary was developed as a result of careful research.  It has the signs and symbols needed for everyday communication.  It is organised in Stages with early Stages containing signs and symbols for immediate needs like drink, eat and home.

In the UK, the signs used with Makaton are from British Sign Language.  The language used by the deaf community in each country is different from the next, even in English speaking countries. American Sign Language is different from British Sign Language which is different from Australian sign language etc.  It would therefore not be appropriate to use signs from the UK with people in other countries.  The British signs may cause offence, the hand shapes and movements may be entirely inappropriate.  People using the British version would be isolated and alienated from their culture and from the deaf community of their country.  This is the case which ever sign system is used.

The Makaton symbols are often a little more acceptable as they are more pictographic, but even still a symbol for 'Bread' in the UK is very different to the symbol for 'Bread' in say France.  It is therefore not always possible to use the symbols in another country.

In any adaptation one of the key things that must be done is to study the basic core vocabulary that is needed.  This will have some similarities to the Makaton Core Vocabulary in the UK, but there will be differences to reflect the different basic foods, weather, or activities for example.

We are always pleased to speak with you about using Makaton in other countries, so please get in contact if you would like more information.