News and stories

The latest news from The Makaton Charity, and how Makaton is being used in the community at home, at school, at work, and out and about - and the Sign of the Week.

Going to Hospital book wins award
22/09/2021

Going to Hospital book wins award

The Going To Hospital Book from Royal Cornwall Hospital Treliske has been named as the Winner of the Learning Disabilities Initiative of the Year at this year’s HSJ Patient Safety Awards, recognising their hard-work and dedication to healthcare in what has been an unprecedented 18 months across the entire sector.

Front cover of Going to Hospital bookThe Going to Hospital Book is an accessible publication for patients with learning disability or autism and aims to support them in knowing what they might expect when visiting hospital for an appointment or being admitted for a procedure.

The booklet is easy to read, uses Makaton symbols throughout to support images, and is sent out to patients ahead of appointments or hospital admissions.

A Makaton (sign and symbol) resource accompanies the book and is freely available for download by patients and professionals. This provides “now & next” boards with a timeline of treatment, creating a visual timetable for patients.

Over 900 guests gathered at Manchester Central on Monday 20th September 2021, to celebrate the driving of positive cultural change and innovation in the healthcare sector today across a total of 159 finalists and 23 categories.

Going To Hospital was recognised for their proactive, diligent hard work and the demonstrable positive impact that their project has within the health and social care sectors.

Staff from Royal Cornwall Hospital Treliske at the awards ceremony

Collecting the award on the night, along with the RCHT team were the collaborators behind the Going to Hospital Book

  • Jane Rees, Learning Disability & Autism Liaison Team Manager, RCHT
  • Angie Emrys-Jones, Co-Author and Looking Up Books Lead
  • Amanda Glennon,  Makaton Ambassador and Tutor at IT Matters CIC

Amanda said: “We are delighted to have the book and Makaton resources recognised in this way and our aspiration is to see them being utilised as standard practice, delivering positive outcomes as the norm.We also enjoyed bringing some Makaton Magic to the event with our signed video winning best pre- awards tweet.”

Download the Going to Hospital book as a pdf file

The Makaton resources are available to download in the Makaton Library, look under Free Resources > Health.

(You need to be signed in to access the Library. Sign in or create a free account)

 
Published

20th June 2021

News

MakaHikers raise over £12K
20/09/2021

MakaHikers raise over £12K

MakaHikers signing Mountain on the summit of Mount Snowdon

On Saturday 11th September a group of 48 MakaHikers conquered the majestic and awe-inspiring Mount Snowdon in Wales. The MakaHike team included parents of children and adults who use Makaton, Makaton beneficiaries, Makaton Tutors, teachers, NHS workers, volunteers and an assistive therapy dog who all came together to challenge themselves and support the life changing work of The Makaton Charity.

Some MakaHikers had travelled from some of the furthest points around the UK, including Isle of wight, Aberdeen, and Grimsby to take on Mount Snowdon and to raise much needed funds for The Makaton Charity.

The event was a huge success and the MakaHikers made it to the summit with some steam left to sing and sign their hearts out.

The day came with its challenges including steep intervals, heavy rain and thick fog but smiles remained on the faces of the incredible MakaHikers. Some of the mottos we heard on the way up to the summit:

  • “Take just one step at a time, no matter how fast or slow, we will get there”
  • “It’s not about if, but, or maybe, it’s when we get there!”

Lucy with her parents and FlossyAmong the MakaHike team was Lucy, her parents, brother and assistive therapy dog, Flossy.

Lucy used Makaton herself when she was younger and is now a selective user of Makaton. Lucy is an avid fan of Singing Hands, and she uses Makaton when singing. There were a few things that kept Lucy going throughout the climb:

  1. Knowing that the Suzanne from Singing Hands was going to be at the top of the Mountain, where she could get a photo as well as sing and sign with her at the summit.
  2. Supporting with the Makaton Facebook page and knowing she was speaking to over 70,000 followers form around the world via Facebook Live throughout the day.
  3. The support of her family and Flossy, her therapy dog. Flossy was fantastic and encouraged Lucy every step of the way. At every break taken Flossy was available for a hug and doggy cuddle and the occasional jelly baby for fuel!
  4. Hannah our Director and Makaton Ambassador, who broke out into singing and signing every once in a while, with onlookers joining in when they knew the song.

Lucy was a true Makaton champion who kept on going when the going got tough, but she made it to the summit of Mount Snowdon and back. Read Lucy's letter about her Snowdon experience

"The MakaHiker challenge was an amazing experience for us as a family. Before the event we were nervous about whether we had taken on too much but we did training walks which definitely helped us. The support from everyone on the day was brilliant , everyone was very understanding of our children's needs. The signing at the summit was great fun. We are very proud to say we took part in the MakaHiker Challenge 2021 whilst raising money for a very good charity that has helped our family for many years." Becky, parent of Lucy

The atmosphere at the top of Mount Snowdon was electric. Some of the hikers had been at the summit for an hour until the last group had reached the summit but they remained positive albeit cold, wet and windy, ready to sing and sign!

Singing Hands had compiled a brilliant mashup of ‘Keep on Movin’ by Five and ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, which was just what the MakaHikers needed to lift their spirits and enable them to express their passion for Makaton. Onlookers at the summit stopped in their tracks to see what was happening and joined in to experience the positivity that was flowing through the MakaHikers!

In total, it took 8 hours to get to the summit and back down, but it was a truly wonderful event and triumphant, a fabulous achievement full of emotions, especially after the previous year and a half we had all been through. At the end of the day there were achy limbs, wobbly legs, and sore feet and knees but it was worth it to have experienced the euphoric feeling singing and signing together at the top of Mount Snowdon.

The MakaHikers have raised a whopping 12.2k for The Makaton Charity which we are truly grateful for. But the day wasn’t all about raising funds, it was about setting themselves a challenge and each person had their own battles to face, but they persisted and have made a wonderful memory and a moment in history.

We would like to publicly thank Makaton Ambassador Tutor Richard Fish for organising the event safely and securely, providing guides to help us safely reach the summit and return; Suzanne from Singing Hands for providing us with our song and for joining us on our hike and leading the sing and sign at the top of the summit; Makaton Ambassador Tutors Nic Pike and Amanda Glennon for meeting and greeting us at the beginning and at the end of our journey and to all of those who challenged themselves to take part in the hike and raise funds for The Makaton Charity.

Thank you to everyone who sponsored the MakaHikers, if you haven’t donated and would like to support it’s not too late! Our donation page is still open... 

If you missed out this time, don’t worry we are planning our next event, so keep your eyes peeled and get yourselves signed up!

Published

20th June 2021

News

Head2Head Sensory Theatre (Part 2)
28/07/2021

Head2Head Sensory Theatre (part 2)

Two young actors on stage
Head2Head logo

At Head2Head Sensory Theatre, we create multi-sensory, interactive and accessible theatre for young people with special and additional needs, from curriculum-based installations, to our take on well-known stories and traditional family pantomimes. 

All our shows use Makaton signing, not just for songs but to support dialogue too.  We are very proud to hold Makaton Friendly status. 

Sadly we are still unable to tour our latest holiday production, Piccolo Pinocchio, due to Covid-19, but I’m pleased to say we have filmed the show instead.  In addition, we were joined by Lauren, a young actor with SEND who worked alongside us in her first professional role.  More about Lauren later.

The last 6 months

So what have we been up to since my last blog?  Just to remind you, without being able to perform live, we needed to produce digital work. 

It began with filming our family holiday show in Easter 2020, Come Trot to Camelot, and then moving on to Zoom shows – the first of which was delivered from my front room! 

In November, we filmed our pantomime, Cinderella, which was accompanied by pre-film Zoom workshops during December to both schools and families.  In these workshops we practised signed songs, sensory moments in the panto and the final disco dance number. 

Needless to say, live events via technology brought many interesting challenges. One day, I delivered panto workshops to a school where they had no cameras or mics: all I could see on my laptop was my own face and 7 empty screens on mute!  A little disconcerting, but they talked with me via the ‘chat’ facility and I was assured they not only learned the Makaton signs I was demonstrating, but they also joined in with everything and had a fantastic time.  It was good to know they hadn’t just nipped out for a quick cup of tea!

Green is the new screen!

When we went into lock-down again in January, I needed to write another Zoom show super-quick that could be delivered by an actor from their own home to our families’ homes.  However, I felt that a step-up in technology was required.  Green-screen!  I had never worked with this medium before and there were several frustrated returns to the drawing board! 

Once I had the technology sorted, Blackbeard’s Revenge was ready to roll.  Our pirating adventure was made all the more fun with the addition of young actor-volunteers with SEND making an appearance.  The Zoom show had two characters and Frankie was played by one of our actor-volunteers.  Over the run of the show, we had three Frankies join us: Daniel, Dean and Harry.  

Harry

Harry with his friend who helped out 
in the Awesome Pawsome Pal song!

“I enjoy the story and my big role. The script was funny jokes.  It was nice have an audience each show. The finale make the children smile.  Each show make me proud of my day.”  Harry Phillips (Actor-Volunteer)

All three actor-volunteers were awesome too!  It was great to see them using Makaton signing and encouraging the participants to join in.  They were fantastic Makaton role models!

Piccolo Pinocchio

And so to our current show – Piccolo Pinocchio. As lockdown had eased and we were able to get together to film, we decided to look for a young actor with SEND to play a professional role.  Working in conjunction with the Orpheus Centre based in Godstone, Surrey, we Zoom-auditioned loads of young actors for the role of J Crick the Cricket.  They were all so brilliant, so it was hard to make a choice!  However, we were delighted to offer the role to Lauren.

Lauren

Lauren as J Crick the Cricket

All our rehearsals with Lauren were via Zoom or by film: she learned the closing dance number purely by watching a filmed demonstration – brilliant!  Lauren was already proficient at Makaton and she introduced even more signing to her character than we had anticipated.  During her day filming on set, we had to work at quite a pace to get everything covered and Lauren took it all in her stride.  And the hard work put into the dance rehearsals certainly paid off.

Actor dancing

“I enjoyed the carnival dance because it was so much fun to do and also because I did it with the other actors.”  Lauren Masser (Actor)

Lauren was a real star!  And I’m pleased to say we have another star in our film Piccolo Pinocchio, albeit just their voice!  We were very fortunate to have been provided with the vocal skills of Phil “Mister Maker” Gallagher in the role of the whale.

Phil GallagherWhale

You can see from above that our artist, Arin Smethurst, has given a little bit of Mister Maker hair-flair to the character of the whale!

"I am so pleased and proud to be a small part of Piccolo Pinocchio.  It is a pleasure to support Head2Head Sensory Theatre and I wish all the team, cast and creatives my very best wishes.  I can't wait to see the finished film!" Phil Gallagher (from "Mister Maker")

And there’s more

As introduced with the pantomime, we also have live Zoom workshops for schools and families to accompany Piccolo Pinocchio.

“Classes really got into the spirit and were cheering at the end. Thank you so much!” 
Heltwate School, Peterborough

And, of course, there’s an accompanying advance pack.  Here we give a list of bits and bobs to gather together or make (like pizza dough!) beforehand for a truly multi-sensory and interactive experience. There are also Widgit symbols for the storyline and song lyrics, as well as some arts/crafts and games activities.  There’s even a role to be played at home – the Indigo Elf!  They have their own magic move – the Indigo Flow!  Once you have made your purchase via our website, you will also have access to the Piccolo Pinocchio playlist on our YouTube channel.  Amongst the videos, you can learn the Indigo Flow and Carnival dance from Erica, who plays Pinocchio.

If you’re looking for something to do during the summer holidays, then Piccolo Pinocchio could be the film for you.  Please visit our What’s On page to find out more https://www.h2hsensorytheatre.com/whats-on-2021

Awesome August

And I’m delighted to say that we will be performing live again with a little show!  Beachcombers & Mudlarking is going out as part of our ‘Awesome August’ season.  Please check out our What’s On page as above for information on venues.  Beachcombers & Mudlarking is an adaptation of that very first Zoom show delivered from my front room, so this is a rather lovely and fitting way to return to the work we so love to do.  Hope to see you there!

If you are new to Head2Head Sensory Theatre, then please follow us on social media – Facebook/Twitter/Instagram @h2htheatre – to see what we’re up to.

Author

Sara Cole

Artistic Director
Head2Head Sensory Theatre

28th July 2021

At work

Access to healthcare is for all
25/06/2021

Access to healthcare is for all

Nikki H

NikkiHi, I am Nikki, and I am a Paramedic in an NHS Trust in the UK.

Working in pre-hospital emergency care, I meet a variety of service users, many of whom experience communication and/or learning difficulties or disabilities. In medical practice, the first and most important rule of patient care is INFORMED CONSENT.  This means that before any treatment or assessment takes place, the clinician must explain what will happen, verify understanding and seek consent from the service user. With persons who do not have English as a first language, the Ambulance Service have an on-call interpretation line.

What struck me was that in the ambulance service there is no provision for communicating with people with learning and/or communication difficulties – a whole demographic being unable to speak for themselves whilst having full capacity to make their own decisions.

I formalised my Makaton qualifications by completing all 4 levels throughout the summer/autumn of 2020. In discussion with attendees on the various courses, and of course, my amazing tutor and Makaton Ambassador, Nic Pike, it quickly became apparent that this lack of communication provision in pre-hospital care was being experienced across the country.

I wrote directly to the CEO of my Ambulance Service Trust, highlighting this huge gap in our service. I was delighted when he immediately replied to me in full support of my idea and put me in touch with the Equality and Diversity lead for the Trust. I put together a full business proposal for the implementation of Makaton across the Trust and secured funding to realise this dream. 

My trust sponsored me to undertake my Makaton Tutor Training course in May of this year and I am currently awaiting the outcome to find out if I have successfully passed all elements of the course. Once I am successfully qualified as a Tutor, I will be tasked with providing training to all frontline emergency staff to enable them to provide a fully inclusive service to ALL demographics.

The Makaton language program is unlimited and impartial – I have successfully used Makaton signs and symbols to communicate with people who are deaf, elderly persons who are hard of hearing, patients with dementia and patients recovering from Strokes – Makaton can be used in all kinds of environments.

There is one supported accommodation that I go to where the only form of communication used is Makaton. The first time I visited and communicated directly to the service user, the staff were stunned that I could use Makaton – they had become so used to being the “voice” and for the service user becoming frustrated at not being able to communicate their needs to the ambulance staff.

Having an ambulance crew turn up is unnerving as it is, without the added anxiety of not being able to understand or communicate. In addition, there is a dedicated unit in my locality where BSL is used – when I visit, I explain that I can use Makaton, and as Makaton is derived from BSL I am then able to communicate with the BSL users directly. In the ambulance itself, there is a whiteboard where I can draw Makaton symbols to show a “now and next” format for what will happen – used in conjunction with signing and the Healthcare cards I keep on a lanyard, I have found that the service users appear calmer and at ease with the situation due to these simple but effective communication aids.

These are just a few examples of the many times that I have implemented Makaton signs and symbols in the pre-hospital environment – there are so many more! It is such a powerful and versatile communication program.

With communication, dignity and respect being the foundations of pre-hospital care, it seems to me that the utilization of the Makaton communication program in pre-hospital care will enable so many people to speak for themselves where they have previously not had a voice. My Makaton journey has been and continues to be so rewarding. I am excited for myself, for my Trust and for the service users who will benefit from this addition to pre-hospital care!

Author

Nikki H

Paramedic, NHS UK

25th June 2021

At work

Just the way I am
29/06/2021

Just the way I am

Mr Tumble toy on Xander's desk

Xander's desk, with Mr Tumble toy and photo of Singing HandsI was born prematurely with a birth defect effecting my ability to learn to talk and I was also diagnosed with autism delaying my speech further. Makaton was my first language and it still is.

Before the age of 7 the only way I communicated was through photos, symbols, and signing. I had no verbal voice, but I did have a voice. Often it just went unheard.

Some people struggled to hear me as they were so used to using their ears, and with me they needed to listen with their eyes.

I have many childhood memories around communication from walking round a zoo needing the toilet but every time I tried to drag an adult that way they told me to “wait”, that didn’t end so well for me.

Or an earache with no way to tell anyone apart from to bang my head on the wall in the hope someone would look at it. 24 hours later when I got a runny nose I was taken to the doctors and my ear drum had burst, I had no way to express my pain.

Watching the other kids come home from school and get asked what they did that day, I got asked too but because my voice had no sound with it, other kids would shout and their attention to what I was showing them or signing quickly went, I learnt only those who are loudest get heard. Things like this did not encourage me to try.

Makaton symbol for Dog, next to a real dogOr I’d try and line up symbols to show what I needed or wanted, not always very accurately, and people would watch, guess once, and then say “have another go, I’ll be back”, yet they never came. I don’t know if it was time or confusion or frustration that they felt, but I know I felt left, given up on at times like that.

When I was a kid, people would ask what I wanted for a Christmas or birthday and I would sign “time”: they thought I was asking how long till that birthday or Christmas. I wasn’t, I was asking for their time. I needed extra time to communicate and sometimes I didn’t get that. Sometimes people didn’t even notice I had something to say. And I wanted that time back. I wanted to tell them about something, anything. I just wanted that conversation/connection all the other kids got.

But, when people did learn my way of communicating, or even just tried to give it a go and spent the time with me, they started to call me cheeky and clever rather than not calling me anything. They saw me!

When I learnt to argue and negotiate, I felt amazing. I may not have ever won the “ice cream now, dinner later” debate, but it still felt so good to be able to try!

As I aged, and after a few medical procedures, I was able to start vocalising sounds and words, but I still heavily relied on Makaton. My speech was not clear or consistent, but my Makaton was.

With my Makaton I had confidence, without it I got lost in the world.

Even when my speech progressed to a level where some would say I didn’t need symbols or signs, I really did. Nothing made this more clear than college. I started off so well, passing parts of my course but then I was faced with people telling me I would do better in the “real world” if I stopped doing “silly things” with my hands. They would constantly say “use your words”. What they didn’t see was signs and especially symbols helped me plan my day, organise my thoughts. I still needed Makaton. As a result I started to fail and I never finished college.

If I could go back in time and say five things to those who were around me as a kid I would pick the following;

  1. Listen with your eyes not just your ears.
  2. Make time. Our communication will take longer, but it’s still important.
  3. Let me use what helps me, don’t take my communication tools.
  4. Try, just try and learn my communication method, even just a few bits.
  5. Don’t give up on me, all that teaches me is to give up on myself.

Today, as an adult in my 30s, whenever someone says “do you want tea or coffee” I feel my little finger extend and my hand make the C shape: it helps me choose. I don’t drink either, but I still need those feelings and movements in my hands to vocalise that.

My home has symbol check lists for things I may forget. Reminders. Planners and random symbols of the important words or things I might need – like medication, toilet and cider!

Symbol check lists: breakfast, going out, bedtime

I have epilepsy and after a seizure, or when I am anxious or even excited, any strong emotion really, my voice doesn’t do so well on its own, but my Makaton shines. When I let it. So, it is still a massive part of my life and I love it. I just wish others loved it, embraced it, or even tried it: my life would be easier if they did.

Don’t get me wrong, some people do, my friends especially, but out in the community after a seizure, for example, I still feel like I’m in a world where I can’t ask for help or say I am OK, because people wouldn’t understand. It’s not just an anxiety, it’s a fact. I once got approached by the police as someone believed I was on drugs or under the influence of alcohol as I was uncoordinated and couldn’t speak properly. I tried signing as I had no symbols with me, but I was told to lower my hands. It was scary. Of course they apologised once they knew the truth but that didn’t stop me feeling like I’d failed, or feeling scared or frustrated. I don’t like going out on my own as much as I should, even now I avoid it when I can. Awareness is better these days, I shouldn’t have the worries I do, but history stays with us for a while.

When I was an adult, I started working in adult social care, a voluntary work placement to gain living and work skills. I saw adults given drinks, not offered them. I saw adults be given their clothes in the morning with no choice. I saw a menu only staff had input in, and I asked why? I was met with blank faces or people telling me “they can’t chose”. Every day they would wait for breakfast when physically they could have been involved. I didn’t like it. I held bottles of drink for them and let them touch or look or point, I had that time, being a volunteer. And they did! They looked, they pointed, they touched and smiled. They had an opinion.

I remembered all those memories from being a kid and overlooked so strongly. I needed to be part of the solution because unlike those carers, I knew what it was like to not have a voice, and I didn’t want to just sit and watch that go on.

From that day I wanted to work in adult social care so people, individuals, could have a voice, an opinion and a choice.

I went to work for another company and I was put on Makaton training. I sat, I watched, I knew the signs (all be it a bit sloppy and a few bad habits), but I sat there and thought to myself “this is what I want to do. It’s why I’m here. This is my purpose.”

I asked the tutor how I could do this, she explained. Years passed, geography and my own epilepsy meant I couldn’t do it, but then lockdown came and I could! I could try and reach my dream.

I redid all my courses, and I applied. I got in.

I worked so hard each and every day. There was language I didn’t understand because I never learnt it at school, so I worked my way through GCSE revision books learning about pronouns, verbs etc late into the night.

And I got my dream! I am now a Makaton Tutor! I cried for pretty much a whole day when I found out I had passed! I was, and still am a Makaton user but now I am also a Makaton Tutor!

I still can’t quite believe it. For over 30 years, Makaton has been a huge part of my life, and at times I have hidden my need for it because of others. But now, now I can use it to help others.

I want to raise awareness. I want to tell people Makaton saved me, no honestly it did. I could ask for help when I needed it, when I really needed it and having a voice of any kind is the best gift you can give someone. I was lucky and now if I can be part of the solution and help others, that is what I want to do. Everyone deserves a voice and deserves to be heard.

It’s only because of the awesome people around me that I have had the confidence to share my story. A big thank you to “H” for always being there and never giving up. And to “N” for supporting me and for giving me that confidence and push I needed, to both of them for always telling me, I am fine just the way I am.

Author

Zander Green

21st June 2021

At home

Your dental visit: a positive experience
18/06/2021

Your dental visit: a positive experience

Dentist using a very large set of dentures to explain a procedure to a patient

Hello, I’m Charlotte and I work as a senior community dentist, and I am a representative for the British Dental Association, a professional organisation for dentists in the UK.

Some dental patients get referred to the community dental service (CDS) if they aren’t able to go see their high-street dentist (also known as general dental practitioners) for a specific reason or clinical need.

CDS dentists often have more time for a patient’s appointments, and it can really help those who are anxious, or need some extra time to help explain what is going to happen during the appointment and to talk about how to keep your teeth healthy.

But we know many people with learning disabilities – both adults and children – may choose to visit a high street dentist if they can. One advantage is that it is probably nearer to your home, so it can be much easier to get to your appointment and also you might be able to attend at the same time as other family members.

We also know dentists are not always the most loved of health professionals! Many people have a reluctance or anxiety about going to the dentist. But we really are welcoming, and friendly, and modern dental techniques mean most treatments today are pain free. We want to encourage all patients to come and see us regularly, if possible – we know that prevention is always better than cure.

Your dentist, and other members of the dental team, can help advise on the best way to look after your teeth, good techniques for brushing and advice about diet too. 

During Learning Disability Awareness Week (14-20 June 2021), we are working with Health Education England, Makaton Ambassador Amanda Glennon, and Helen Laverty MBE from Positive Choices to help raise awareness of what it’s like for someone with a learning disability to visit the dentist. We really wanted to show how that experience can be a positive one, with the aid of some simple communications tools and Makaton.

"The dentist project has been a true together we are better whirlwind to be part of! From the original idea to asking for help to launch took about 12 weeks – just goes to show what we can achieve when we pull together! #TeamSmile" Helen Laverty MBE, Professional lead for LD nursing at the University of Nottingham

I play the part of the dentist in the film below, and Gary, an actor with the MiXit theatre group, plays my patient. Prior to filming Gary told me he was a bit nervous about sitting in the dental chair. But I reassured him I would not actually be doing any treatment, just having a look at his mouth and helping to show him how to brush.

 

After the filming, I was really delighted to get a message from Gary’s mum saying: “He really enjoyed it and it’s helped encourage him to go to the dentist and getting used to sitting on the proper chair.”

Makaton prompt cards

Cover of Your Dental Appointment, and a phoo of a girl brushing her teeth, with one of the Makaton prompt cards stuck on the bathroom mirrorDuring LD Week (and beyond), we are asking dentists and their teams to download and use these new free Makaton prompt cards, so they can use them in their dental practice. We know that good communication is one of the things that can make a dental visit more positive for all our patients.

There is also information on caring for your teeth at home, with the Makaton signs and symbols, and a chart that helps remind you to brush twice a day.

The free Makaton download can be found in the Makaton Library (Free Resources > Health).

 
 

Further information

Oral care and people with learning disabilities on the Gov UK website explains the different ways that patients with a learning disability can access dental treatment.

Author

Charlotte Waite

Chair England Community Dental Services Committee, British Dental Association

18th June 2021

Out and about

Trustees wanted
16/06/2021

Trustees wanted

Three people signing Good

The deadline for applications was 23rd July 2021.

The Makaton Charity is seeking Trustees to help us grow our digital membership and community schemes and to reflect a more diverse set of stakeholders.

We believe growing our membership community and schemes will be vital to achieving our vision and strategy. For individual members we want to offer fantastic personalisation, on-line learning and community space experiences that really benefit beneficiaries, their families, and carers. For group and professional members, we want to provide brilliant products and offers such as training and resources, tailored to their sectors including the NHS/health, education, and social care.

We are therefore seeking up to two more Trustees who can:

  • Bring knowledge and experience of successfully scaling up digitally enabled and subscription-based membership communities and schemes. These should maximise member engagement and retention, as well as providing an income in line with our financial plans. Your experience is likely to be in organisations that have blended true community building with generating a sustainable income well – either Business-to-consumer (B2C), Business-to-business (B2B) or both. Particular experience in user experience considerations and impact assessment will be helpful.
  • Provide advice, guidance, and challenge to the evolution of our strategy, plans and projects. Making appropriate introductions within sectors and with relevant potential digital or other corporate partners would also be helpful.
  • Bring independence of judgement, the capacity to bring a fresh, external but constructive view to decision making, and champion our ambition to support and reflect a more diverse set of members and beneficiaries
  • Play a full role as a charity Trustee, including attending Board meetings and other committee meetings, as needed. General duties and responsibilities of a Trustee are found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-essential-trustee-what-you-need-to-know-cc3
  • Bring passion, interest and enthusiasm for our vision and values - help us ‘think and act big’ and extend our influence and reach!
    What commitment is required?

Trustees are voluntary roles (approved expenses will be paid) with an initial term of three years. You would need the time to:

  • Prepare for and attend c. five 2-hour Board meetings a year (mainly held remotely but one or two per year to be held at our offices in Frimley) including an annual ½ day awayday. However, we are keen not to put any geographical constraints on our Trustees.
  • Prepare for and attend any committee meetings you would be involved with (generally only one which would have between 3-5, 2-hour meetings a year held remotely). In time, to be willing to chair a committee.
  • Provide limited ad hoc support and input as required.

Next steps

Download the Trustee Recruitment Guide

Please send any queries and/or a full CV together with a brief covering letter to Sarah.Parke@makaton.org by 23rd July 2021. We will arrange a discussion with our Chair, Rob Douglas and CEO, Stephen Hall.  Please note that all Trustees must pass an enhanced DBS check. 

Published

16th June 2021

News

National Lottery grant
24/05/2021

Makaton receive a National Lottery grant

National Lottery Community Fund logo

National lottery Community Fund logoWe are delighted to announce that they have received a grant of £9,500, from the National Lottery, to develop a series of women’s health resources.

Period education and women’s health is an important part of growing up and can be more difficult for those who have learning and communication difficulties.

Shelina Mitha, a Senior Makaton Tutor and Sarah Mayers, a postgraduate at Sterling University, have been working tireless to undertake research and develop a social story and corresponding communication board to support and empower conversations about puberty and periods. This resource is undergoing final editing and will be available late Summer within the ‘Free Resources’ section of the Makaton Library.

Two further resources will be designed around ‘female safeguarding’ and ‘consent’, to support understanding of Makaton Users and aid communication during their informative year leading to adulthood. These newly developed resources can be used widely by families, and professional alike, to help those who have learning and communication difficulties to move smoothly into adulthood. The resource will be factual, informative, and empowering, enabling girls and women to have more control, more choice and live safer lives. Watch this space!

Makaton will be working closely with our partners at Mencap and The Real Period Project to distribute the resources to a vast audience. We will be using our collective social media powers, to highlight the importance of clear and supported conversations, and provide digital access to the resources and user guides.

Published

24th May 2021

News

Jennifer’s Makaton Journey
24/05/2021

Jennifer's Makaton Journey

Sentence board with lots of Makaton symbol cards
Colourful Semantics with Makaton Symbols

I am a teacher from West Yorkshire, and I started my Makaton journey a little over a year ago with the very talented Kerry Cawley. Kerry has supported me all the way and has become a very good friend. 

I originally attended training to help a little girl in my care that needed Makaton for communication needs. When I took my training back into the classroom it quickly transpired that Makaton was going to not only help her but also help lower ability children within the classroom. I have completed Levels 1-3 and am a registered trainer for MSB (Makaton for babies).

Shortly after I had two other children join my class from overseas and they didn't have any English. We used Makaton signs and symbols and they picked up English quickly. As the rest of the class knew a little Makaton too, they were able to make friends and communicate. During lockdown, my Makaton journey has gone further, and I have used it with encouraging language development and sentence construction through face to face and online learning. I have seen reluctant writers become more confident and their parents have been enjoying learning a new skill along the way, through their children. When I spoke to the parents 93% of them said their children had improved their literacy skills by using Makaton and enjoyed writing again.

As we have moved out of lockdown, I have continued using Makaton within my everyday teaching. The children haven't regressed as much as I thought they might, and their sentence structure is much stronger. I feel very proud of the children as they have developed a new skill by not only helping their writing abilities but have developed the ability to be able to communicate with other people.

At the start of the year, I started by using symbols and colourful semantics to formulate sentences. As we are approaching the end of the year, I have a class of 28 children confidently signing in sentences, constantly asking for how to sign new words. I cannot recommend using Makaton enough for making writing fun and bringing it to live with visual representation!

Are you ready to take the first step and start learning Makaton? Getting started with Makaton is fun and easy. And once you've started, you'll soon want to learn more , starting with the Core Vocabulary. We look forward to welcoming you to the Makaton family soon!

Author

Jennifer M

24th May 2021

At school

Collaboration with Dimensions
13/05/2021

Collaboration with Dimensions

Logos of The Makaton Charity and Dimensions
Dimensions and Makaton logos

We are delighted to announce that The Makaton Charity will be working in partnership with Dimensions to provide essential Makaton training and support to their staff

Dimensions provide evidence-based, outcomes-focused support for people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs. They are one of the largest not-for-profit support providers in the UK and currently support around 3,500 people and their families throughout England and Wales, with help from 7,000 members of staff.

Simon Gosney, Head of Learning and Development at Dimensions, said “It is hard to imagine living without the ability to communicate with those around you. Many of the people we support do not use speech to communicate and for some of those, Makaton is an indispensable fact of life. We’re thrilled to be now able to train many more colleagues to be able to supplement words with signs and so create better relationships with the people we support and help them maintain and develop connections with others”.

We look forward to collaborating with Dimensions to upskill staff and raise the awareness of Makaton, to ensure that everyone living with learning or communication difficulties has the tools and resources they need to understand and be understood.

To find out more visit dimensions-uk.org

Published

13th May 2021

News

Great Things Award 2021
14/04/2021

Great Things Award 2021

iMIS Great Things Award Winner seal
iMIS Great Things Award badge

We are thrilled to announce that The Makaton Charity has recently received the iMIS Great Things Award 2021.

Software company Advanced Solutions International (ASI) is the developer of a member engagement system called iMIS, which is part of The Makaton Charity’s new digital offering. The Great Things Awards are based on ASI's mission to "Help People Achieve Great Things Through Innovative Solutions". ASI recognises iMIS clients who have demonstrated excellence in using iMIS to improve operational efficiency, advance their mission and achieve 'great things’. 

In August 2020, The Makaton Charity launched the new Makaton Membership and website, utilising iMIS technology to provide a simple and smooth user journey. Stephen Hall (CEO of The Makaton Charity) said: "The integration capability of the iMIS system, which, like Lego, allows you to connect different systems and technologies together, is greatly improving user experience and accessibility.”

The launch of the Makaton Membership has been revolutionary for the Makaton community as it gives access to Makaton at your fingertips 24/7. This empowers people with communication difficulties through giving core Makaton users and their support network digital access to essential Makaton vocabulary, which can help to overcome frustration and promote inclusion. Since the launch last year, over 30,000 new members have joined, and we look forward to another innovative year as we develop our digital offer, ensuring everyone living with learning or communication difficulties has the tools and resources they need to understand and be understood.

Makaton Membership. Makaton at your fingertips…24/7 makaton.org/membership

Learn more about the iMIS platform at www.advsol.com

Published

14th April 2021

News

Here Comes the Sun
30/03/2021

Here Comes the Sun

Makaton symbol for 'the sun' overlaid on top of a Zoom video screenshot of people singing and signing 'Here Comes the Sun'

We are delighted to share with you this wonderful video of the Makaton Tutors' Choir signing Here Comes the Sun! The perfect song to mark the gradual lifting of lockdown across the UK in Spring 2021 and to hopefully celebrate that good times are coming! Enjoy 😊

With thanks to Singing Hands and the 80 choir members from all over the UK!

 

Published

30th March 2021

News

Melodysigns
29/03/2021

Melodysigns

Melody dancing on a multicoloured disco floor
Ellie and Melodysigns looking on ‘The Bright Side Of Life’

I was 9 years old when a new foster child joined our family. Ellie couldn’t speak, she used hand gestures to communicate. Apparently, she was using Makaton, but I didn’t understand what that meant.

I thought she was making up actions to get her message across. If she wanted a drink, she’d mime drinking from a cup. When she showed us pictures in her book, she’d trace cat whiskers on her face, or cow horns on her head. She’d even stick her tongue out and pant for the dog!

I didn’t realise there was a whole community out there, a website, and workshops to learn more.

We’d introduce Ellie’s signs to other foster children so they could communicate with her, some even found it helpful for themselves. We had Dave Benson-Philips’ Makaton Nursery Rhymes on VHS and saw Mr Tumble on TV, but I thought that was simply people doing actions to songs, just like we’d do at school.

Ten years later, Mum found a Makaton Foundation Workshop, where we learnt so much. I hadn’t realised how important Makaton was. This wasn’t just a few gestures to get a point across, this was an entire programme designed to help people to communicate, to understand, to learn and to make their lives, and the lives of those around them, so much easier.

‘I Can Boogie’ with MakatonFor about a year, I signed along to Disney and pop songs that my foster siblings listened to. They loved watching and joining in, so I eventually made videos and uploaded them onto YouTube to share with their friends.

I started receiving messages from people saying they enjoyed my videos, where could they find out more about Makaton? I realised there were people who lived nearby, and all over the country, who would benefit from Makaton but didn’t know about it. My Melodysigns videos were helping them discover it.

My Melodysigns hobby was also helping me for personal reasons, too. I’ve spent years struggling with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Epilepsy and more, things that make getting out of bed in the morning very difficult. Making these Makaton videos was building my motivation, concentration and stamina.

Signing Makaton as a ‘Barbie Girl’

After several videos, I was contacted by The Makaton Charity. I had also been making Sign of the-Week, and videos explaining what signs I used in the songs. I was told that these were technically teaching videos, and that I shouldn’t be sharing these as I wasn’t a Makaton Tutor. The music videos were fine, they were for entertainment and part of my Makaton journey, but I’d have to remove the others.

I was very upset with myself. Had I been breaking rules? Had I been teaching people incorrectly? What else could I do with Makaton, with my videos, if I wasn’t a Tutor? There was only one thing for it… I would become a Tutor.

As a musician, I need to know my ‘Scales And Arpeggios’

Years passed, I continued making videos, but there were no more Makaton courses nearby. I couldn’t travel far, my illnesses made sure of that. My hope of becoming a Makaton Tutor was fading. Then, COVID lockdown began.

Everyone relied on online lessons and meetings. I looked on the Makaton website, and there was a Follow-Up Workshop available online. I signed up immediately, learnt even more about Makaton, then signed up for Online Makaton Tutor Training.

Once I’m a Tutor, I’d like to make Sign of the Week videos again, this time knowing I can teach. It’ll be great to know that my music videos can be educational as well as entertaining. I’d love to expand into signing stories and poems, and to write songs of my own, including one that teaches all the pronouns! I’d also like to support other foster carers. When a new child joins your family, one who communicates in a different way, it can feel daunting. I’d like to be there to help carers take that first step, and to support them on their Makaton journey.

Author

Melodysigns

29th March 2021

At home

Youngest MSB Trainers
29/03/2021

Youngest MSB Trainers

A close-up selfie of Jake and Ellie
Ellie with Makaton bag and MSB polo shirt

We would like to introduce our youngest Makaton Signing for Babies (MSB) Trainers in the UK!

Ellie and Jake both attended a Makaton Signing for Babies Train The Trainer course in October last year. Ellie and Jake are 18 years old, and both have a long history and lots of experience of using Makaton.

When Ellie was four years old she had a classmate with Down’s syndrome who used Makaton. They became friends and their friendship still continues today.

Ellie volunteers for the charity Barnardos and is looking forward to getting started to deliver Makaton Signing for Babies to the families and colleagues she works with, once it is safe to do so again.

Jake wearing MSB polo

When Jake was 4 years old, his cousin Alice was born with Down's syndrome. His family started to use Makaton together. Jake and Alice formed a special bond and remain close. Up until lockdown they have had fun making videos for their YouTube channel AJ Reports.

Jake has already delivered around half a dozen Makaton Signing for Babies courses to families online through the Community Interest Charity he’s connected to.

Both Ellie and Jake have attended lots of different Makaton training Workshops over the years as young adults. Ellie also uses her Makaton knowledge and skills to make her college productions as inclusive as possible whilst Jake uses his as an entertainer and performer. They both work and volunteer to broaden their experiences.

Are you interested in becoming a Makaton Signing for Babies Trainer?

Author

Kerry C

Makaton Ambassador Tutor
29th March 2021

At work

Makaton Membership Review
29/03/2021

Makaton Membership Review

Tiffanie and Alfie

I am Tiffanie, a primary school teacher and mum to Alfie, who has Down's syndrome.

I began our Makaton journey when Alfie was 10 months old, with ‘more’ and ‘finished’. I carried on learning a sign or two a week from Mr Tumble on TV, Something Special magazine, and Singing Hands DVDs. I found it was really important to actively watch these with Alfie and engage with him: doing hand-over-hand signing and enjoying singing together. He is still a huge Suzanne and Tracy fan and regularly takes part in Singing Hands' Z,oom sessions.

Alfie started primary school knowing over 300 Makaton signs, which then supported his developing speech as it still wasn’t clear to all listeners. He has continued to use Makaton to learn new vocabulary, and if he is tired he will sign rather than talk.

When Alfie was 5, we took part in the 50 Mums Makaton signed car pool karaoke of 1000 years, and have also taken part in filming signed stories for World Book Day, in collaboration with The Makaton Charity, Family Fund, Singing Hands and Wouldn’t Change A Thing.

I completed Levels 1–4 of the Makaton training within the last year, starting October 2019 and finishing Level 4 in November 2020.

My local tutor Dawn was fantastic and it was great to learn alongside other parents and professionals either together in a village hall or via Zoom in more recent times.

I recently signed up as a Makaton Member. I have been really impressed with how easy it is to search for a word, and to quickly find a symbol, sign diagram and video of the word I need. The fact that I can open on any device and am not limited to one under a restricted licence is brilliant. I can look up a sign on any devices we have to hand at the time.

I have been able to add a quick hyperlink icon to the Makaton hub on the home screen of my phone so I can access the site immediately wherever I am. This is a huge help when Alfie is needing a new sign on days out and for filling spur of the moment gaps in my signing vocabulary.

There is just such a huge wealth of resources to use and I am excited to explore them all and share them with Alfie.

Thanks Makaton Charity for developing such a fabulous resource.

 

Makaton Membership gives you access to Makaton symbols, signs and videos, MakaChat support, access to exclusive member events and much more. Click here to find out more abut what membership can offer you!
Author

Tiffanie Smith

29th March 2021

At home

Win Mr Tumble Toys!
26/03/2021

Win Mr Tumble Toys!

A young child holding a Mr Tumble doll
This competition is now closed.

 

Golden Bear, the makers of the Mr Tumble toy range, would love to know your thoughts!

For a chance to win a Mr Tumble Toy*, head over to our Facebook page and comment on our post, telling us what Makaton concepts/phrases/symbols would be useful for a new Mr Tumble communication toy.

*Please note that we cannot guarantee which toy you will receive.

A young child holding a Mr Tumble doll, and a ball with a picture of Mr Tumble on it

Terms and Conditions

  1. The promoter is: The Makaton Charity (company no. 06280108) whose registered office is at 66 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3LH.
  2. The competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom aged 18 years or over except employees of The Makaton Charity and their close relatives and anyone otherwise connected with the organisation or judging of the competition.
  3. There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
  4. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
  5. Route to entry for the competition and details of how to enter are via https://makaton.org/TMC/News_Stories/News/Win_Mr_Tumble_Toys
  6. Only one entry will be accepted per person. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified.
  7. Closing date for entry will be 12th April 2021. After this date the no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
  8. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
  9. The rules of the competition and how to enter are as follows: Write a comment directly on the Facebook post stating what Makaton concepts/phrases/symbols would be useful for a new Mr Tumble communication toy.
  10. The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in any event outside of the promoter’s control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.
  11. The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.
  12. The prize is as follows: Mr Tumble Toy.
  13. The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
  14. Winners will be chosen at random by software, from all entries received and verified by The Makaton Charity.
  15. The winners will be notified by DM on Facebook within 28 days of the closing date. If the winner cannot be contacted or do not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
  16. The Makaton Charity will notify the winners when and where the prize can be collected / is delivered.
  17. The Makaton Charity’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  18. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
  19. The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by English law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England.
  20. The winners agree to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material, as well as their entry. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current UK data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.
  21. Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.
  22. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other Social Network. You are providing your information to The Makaton Charity and not to any other party.
Published

31st March 2021

News

MakaHike
09/03/2021

MakaHike

Woman standing on top of a mountain

If you are craving an adventure and would like to set yourself a challenge, we have the perfect event for you!

On Saturday 11th September 2021, we are taking on the majestic and awe-inspiring Mount Snowdon in Wales. Rising 1,085 meters above sea level, there’s something wild and breathtakingly beautiful about the Snowdonia landscape, with soaring, sharp and magnificent peaks rising up high above the deep welsh valleys.

Depending on your experience and abilities the ‘MakaHikers’ will set off at different times to tackle Snowdon, the route will be a challenging 8-9 mile ascending hike, taking around 6 -8 hours to summit and return.

Once everyone has reached the summit there will be a Makaton ‘sing and sign’ to celebrate our achievements and promote the wonderful work of The Makaton Charity.

We would be delighted if you were able to join us!

The hike costs £49, this includes organisation, small group mountain guides and your insurance. We are asking people who are taking on the ‘Makahike’ challenge to commit to a minimum of £150 in fundraising – which can all be done online through our wonderful donation portal.

If you can’t join us, you can show your support by donating to our brilliant team of Makahikers!

Application form | Donation portal

Published

9th March 2021

News

Staffordshire University Collaboration with Makaton Tutors
05/03/2021

Staffordshire University Collaboration with Makaton Tutors

Staffordshire students on an online workshop

Above: Students during Level 1 Online Workshops 
Left: Amanda Tayler, Course leader, BA (hons) Early Childhood Studies (FT), Staffordshire University.
 

Amanda Tayler:
In early 2020 we engaged with Makaton Tutor Amanda Glennon from Inclusive Teaching Matters to deliver Makaton to our students on Campus. This was so beneficial we wanted to offer to this to students in 2021, however with a lockdown in place we had to be a little bit creative and decided to move to online training. During February, Amanda and a team of Makaton tutors delivered a mammoth month of online level 1 Makaton training for our Education and Early Childhood Studies students at Staffordshire University. And what a month!

The students have been overwhelmingly positive about their training, commending everything from the smooth organisation of the sessions, the tutors knowledge and teaching strategies used. As we were in lockdown, many of our students had their own children with them who also took part in some of the sessions, parents have stated that their children very much enjoyed it too and have been practicing it since.

This training forms an important part of how we build future educators here at Staffs, irrespective of which part of the education sector they choose to work in. Having a toolkit of extra skills such as Makaton prepares our students for working life and helps to ensure that they can meet the needs of the individuals they will be supporting and teaching. Our students move in diverse directions after they graduate, they study for masters degrees, they become primary school teachers, others are early years practitioners whilst some are teaching assistants. Many of our students choose to work with children and/or adults with specific learning differences and needs as well as communication needs and using Makaton will be fundamental in making a difference to the lives of those individuals, but wherever they are aiming to work and study they have all stated that knowing how and when to use Makaton will enhance their practice.

We look forward to further Makaton training from Amanda and the team in the coming years.

The Makaton Tutor team hope that sharing this positive story encourages other Universities to look at opportunities to provide Makaton Training as part of their core course content.


The Makaton Tutors who collaborated to provide this training included Amanda Glennon, Kerry Cawley, Kirsty Stanger, Jemma Sagar and Corrine Lloyd (Top – Bottom Left to Right)

All Tutors involved thought it was lovely to be a part of something that could potentially have such a large reach.  Students from this course are likely to go on to work in a variety of different settings, hopefully embedding Makaton into their practice and inspiring others to do the same. We were all grateful for the opportunity to be involved in this collaboration, as training of this scale is likely to be of great benefit to the Makaton Community and it was such a great opportunity for the students to have this supported by the University.

 

Amanda Glennon: Makaton Ambassador & IT Matters CIC – When Staffs contacted me again this year the challenge was training such a high number of students online. I reached out for support from four other Makaton tutors – all with their own experiences in Early Years and was delighted we could work together to deliver this mammoth month of training.

 

Corrine Lloyd: Makaton Tutor - It was great to hear between module 1 and 2 that participants had already implemented Makaton in their home and place of work, with one participant telling me how her 2-year-old had started using a handful of signs spontaneously.  This same participant was keen to continue her Makaton journey as she realises its benefits and hopes to use Makaton within her dream job as a Play Therapist.

 

Kerry Cawley: Makaton Ambassador- One of the participants said that she had used Makaton effectively in her role as a carer for an elderly person in between attending the sessions for the Workshop. The person was often difficult to put to bed and was deaf. No other members of staff knew how to sign. The person attending the Level 1 used the sign bed to indicate that it was time for her to go to bed - and she went to bed without any problem at that time

 

Jemma Sagar: Makaton Tutor - I have loved being a part of the team delivering to the students. I have done a degree in Early Years myself and know how useful Makaton will be to the students in their future careers

 

Kirsty Stanger: Makaton Tutor - From one of the students: Just wanted to give you a little feedback. I had my first session yesterday with Kirsty. Well, it was just amazing! The amount we learned is phenomenal and I’m really looking forward to the second session. We were given a 30 day free trial for the Makaton website. It’s an amazing opportunity and we’re really lucky as students to be offered such an amazing course for free so thank you for organising that for us.

 

It is going to improve communication in so many ways in SEN and in mainstream schooling.

Author

Amanda Tayler & Makaton Tutors

Staffordshire University

5th March 2021

At work

Happy MOMents
05/03/2021

Happy MOMents

Happy MOMents' Makaton Journey

From a Makaton Taster Session with Kerry Cawley in December 2019 (for 20 volunteers and as many children!) to 16 of our volunteers being trained up to Level 2 Makaton in October 2020 in between lockdowns, Makaton has been transformative to our transition as an organisation during lockdown.

Happy MOMents is a network of families that provide support, services and fun for the whole family in Batley and Dewsbury in Yorkshire.

Pre-Covid, we hosted stay & play sessions, baby massage classes, informative coffee mornings, courses and postnatal fitness classes to over 100 women and children each week. We discovered Makaton just before Covid and managed to get our Makaton Level 1 Workshop started before the first lockdown.  The rest was put on hold until October when it was safe to meet for face-to-face training again as we preferred to see our lovely tutor Kerry in person!

Makaton has been a fantastic language development tool for our organisation as we now present two online story-time sessions a week to our families in which we sign at least 2 key words from the story and sign our rhyme time too.  The children love signing along and we have seen their confidence grow (and ours!) over the last few months with signing.  We teach ‘finger gym’ to them too, so Makaton is a lovely developmental bridge between dexterity and language development for them.

We show the children the Makaton symbols and signs in each session and once we are back to face-to-face sessions, these will be displayed in the room and used as a learning tool too

One of our sessions is a faith-based story-time and we have adapted some of the signs around Faith words with Kerry’s help.  We begin with signing ‘Bismillah’ (In the Name of Allah) at the start of each session and end with ‘Allah Hafiz’ ‘Allah Be with you’.  Alhamdulillah (all praise is for Allah) is my favourite sign and the children love this too! Adapting the signs is tricky as Arabic not only writes right to left but often the meaning is in backwards order too so we always double check any ‘new’ signs to make sure they don’t confuse anyone.

Aysha, our baby massage instructor, uses many of the signs from Makaton Signing for Babies which we completed together during lockdown too. The new moms love that they are learning a ‘code’ with their babies that they can both understand!

Thanks to Kerry for helping to develop these faith-based signs which have given many children comfort during these uncertain times.

www.happymoments.org.uk

Author

Sumayya M

Coordinator
Happy MOMents

5th March 2021

At work

My online training experience
05/03/2021

My online training experience

My experience of an online Makaton Level 1 Workshop, run by Sheila Crossley T Signing Helper with Makaton Level 1 Workshop manual

I decided to book on the Level 1 course to get a proper certificate. I chose this particular course with this tutor so I could grow my knowledge of signs, starting from the very beginning.

It was my first online course, but I already knew some Makaton from school, so I'm not a complete beginner. I was a little bit nervous about joining the Zoom meeting for the very first time because I wasn't sure how it would go but the tutor welcomed me and made me feel at ease.

My biggest fear when joining the course was that I wasn't sure if I was going to pass it, but I did and have the certificate to prove it. The first signs that I learned were the letters of the alphabet and then we went on to learn loads of different signs including family members, some food names, question words, places and objects in the home.

It was easy to follow along with the tutor, the session went by quickly, at just about the right pace. To anyone thinking of joining the course I would say, definitely do it. It is really really worth it. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Interested in attending Makaton training? Click here to find a workshop
Author

T Signing Helper

5th March 2021

At home

World Book Day: accessible storytelling
04/03/2021

Accessible storytelling for World Book Day

Young man signing next to a cuddly blue cat

Four charities from across the UK have come together to highlight accessible storytelling for this year’s World Book Day.

Family Fund, the UK’s largest charity providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people, joined with The Makaton Charity, Singing Hands, and Wouldn’t Change a Thing to create a visual storytelling film, using Makaton, of children’s laureate Julia Donaldson CBE’s book Room on the Broom, featuring families and children who have been supported by the charities, alongside volunteers and employees. The video tells the award-winning story using Makaton, which combines signs, symbols and speech to help people communicate.

 

More than 100,000 children and adults use Makaton, and it can work as a main method of communication or to assist speech, and it can allow children with disabilities to express themselves independently.

This is the third year that Family Fund, The Makaton Charity, Singing Hands, and Wouldn’t Change a Thing have come together to create a Makaton storytelling video, with the hope that more people will understand how important Makaton is for people.   

Cheryl Ward, Chief Executive at Family Fund, said “Families come together through storytelling, and this is a great example of how Makaton can help stories be accessible to children with learning or communication difficulties. It is wonderful to see our families signing together, and we’re delighted to be sharing another classic story for families to enjoy.”

Suzanne and Tracy of Singing Hands say “We love signing stories – they are the perfect vehicle for teaching and practising Makaton signing in a child-centred, fun way.  World Book Day enables us to showcase how Makaton can be used to enhance storytelling and make it more inclusive to all”

Zanna Finnerty, from The Makaton Charity, says "The Makaton Charity exists to ensure that everyone living with learning or communication difficulties has the tools and resources they need to understand and be understood. Using Makaton with storytelling ensures that everyone can join in and feel included."

Stef Fallows, Trustee from Wouldn’t Change a Thing, said “We are delighted to be part of the collaboration for World Book Day for a third year. The benefits of books and storytelling on child development are well-recognised, as well as the simple pleasure that a good story brings! We are proud to be part of a project that helps to make WBD as inclusive as possible, and increase the awareness of Makaton.”

The video will be broadcast across the charities’ social media channels on World Book Day, and sent to schools to use as a learning resource.

Room on the Broom was written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler and published in 2001. It was also adapted into an Oscar-nominated animated film in 2012.

Published

4th March 2021

News

March Madness
01/03/2021

March Madness

The March Madness sale has now finished.

It's March Madness time again! Get 15% off the cost of most resources until Wednesday 31st March 2021.

Simply go to the shop . add one or more resources into your shopping cart, go to the checkout, type the code MarchMadness in to the promotional code field, and click Apply to get 15% off all eligible products.*

 

*The special offer applies to all the resources in the shop, except for those in the following categories:

Little Bilinguals resources get a 20% discount.

The relevant discount will be applied to the total cost of your order.

Published
1st March 2021

News

Coronavirus Test
19/02/2021

Coronavirus Test

Zanna signing the letter C

Zanna shows us how to sign Coronavirus Test.

 

See also:

Published

19th February 2021

News

Women’s health resource
10/02/2021

Women’s health resource

Young woman talking with a teenage girl, who has Down's syndrome

Would you like to help The Makaton Charity to develop a women’s health resource?

Sarah, a student from Stirling University, has teamed up with one of our Senior Tutors, Shelina Mitha, to carry out an incredibly worthwhile research project to support women in understanding their menstrual cycle. Selina and Sarah have developed resources specifically around this topic, including a social story on growing up and having a period, along with a communication board to support conversations.

They are looking for families who use Makaton who would benefit from this resource, and be willing to be interviewed about their experience over Zoom, to provide feedback. If you are interested in piloting the resource and are willing to take part in a short Zoom interview, please email smayes.makaton@gmail.com for more information. Thank you!

Published

9th February 2021

News

£5,000 Donation from Farnborough Airport
09/02/2021

£5,000 Donation from Farnborough Airport

Aeoroplane on runway at Farnborough Airport

At the start of 2020, Farnborough Airport chose The Makaton Charity as their ‘Charity of the Year’ partner, with great hopes of running many fundraising events throughout the year, and raising awareness of the Makaton language programme. Unfortunately, due to the Covid pandemic, that wasn’t to be, and the partnership took a backseat to more immediate and serious issues.

We were delighted to be contacted by Farnborough Airport to hear that they were donating £5,000 as their commitment to the partnership, and that they hope 2021 will see more face-to-face events and wider fundraising efforts.

Huge thanks to Farnborough Airport for this wonderful donation – a real surprise in such difficult times.

Published

9th February 2021

News

Signing With Singing Hands
05/02/2021

Signing With Singing Hands

Drawing of a young girl signing

Makaton signing with Singing HandsAt Out of the Ark Music we believe that singing can and should be inclusive. With that in mind, we have worked closely with Singing Hands to produce Makaton-signing videos for five of our popular songs, you can view them here!

We asked our friends at Singing Hands, Suzanne Miell-Ingram and Tracy Upton (who were recently awarded with MBEs!), to explain a little bit about what Makaton signing is, and why it is useful to use alongside songs.

What is Makaton?

Makaton is a language programme that uses a combination of speech, signs and symbols to communicate. Makaton signing helps convey meaning because it gives extra visual clues when speaking. Many of the signs are iconic i.e. they look like what they represent, and the signs are the same across the UK.

How does Makaton help?

Makaton supports memory and understanding by providing additional visual information alongside speech. By reinforcing these main concepts in a message, it helps support language and literacy development. It can help pre-verbal or non-verbal children or those with SLCN (Speech, Language and Communication Needs) and other learning needs in specialist settings, but it can also be enjoyed by all children in a mainstream setting as a way to promote inclusion. Increasingly, Makaton is being used to support children with English as an additional language, to learn English

Who are Singing Hands?

Singing Hands was established by Suzanne Miell-Ingram and Tracy Upton back in 2003. They are both parents of young adults with additional needs so have over 20 years’ personal and professional experience of Makaton. Suzanne and Tracy have produced six DVDs in association with The Makaton Charity – from nursery rhymes through to pop songs, Christmas carols and festive songs. They have appeared on CBeebies’ Something Special, with Mr Tumble, and they are Makaton tutors and patrons of The Makaton Charity.

Why is Makaton good with songs?

Using Makaton with songs transforms singing into a multisensory learning experience, as the signs turn the lyrics into a visual performance, not just an auditory one. It is a hugely enjoyable way to include children who need to use signing for communication as the whole class, year group or school can join in too. Using Makaton with singing is a child-centred way to use and learn language, and makes learning fun. In addition to all this, using Makaton with singing includes key performance skills such as rhythm, placement, timing, awareness of the song structure and delivery of the signs to engage an audience. Adding the gestures to the song makes it a whole-brain activity too! Importantly, during COVID-19, many mainstream schools who are no longer able to include singing as part of the curriculum, are finding that learning to sign songs is a great way to still enjoy music-making together. Why not give it a go?

Why did we choose these five Out of the Ark songs to sign?

These five songs with Makaton signing are a great starting point for your Makaton singing/signing journey. Each of the songs has an achievable tempo for signing, an uplifting, catchy tune and plenty of repetition to allow you to practise the new signs. Hello, Hello and Goodbye are a perfect way to introduce signing into your setting at the start and end of your day, whether you are teaching in person or remotely.

To find out more about Singing Hands please visit www.singinghands.co.uk

Watch the Makaton signing videos we created with Singing Hands

Author

Out of the Ark Music

5th February 2021

At work

Wearing a face mask
13/01/2021

Wearing a face mask

Nic (wering a face mask) and Lily

Nic and Lily use Makaton to help explain wearing a face mask, including how to sign the UK government Covid-19 advice: Hands. Face. Space. Thanks to Makaton Tutor Nicola Pike for making this video.

 

See also:

Published

13th January 2021

News

Head2Head Sensory Theatre
07/01/2021

Head2Head Sensory Theatre

Young man dressed as a wizard
Head2Head logo

At Head2Head Sensory Theatre, we create multi-sensory, interactive and accessible theatre for young people with SEND; from curriculum-based installations, to our own take on well-known stories and traditional family pantomimes. 

All our shows use Makaton signing, not just for songs but to support dialogue too.  We have found Makaton invaluable in communicating with our audience and we were very proud to receive Makaton Friendly status in 2019.  Needless to say, Covid-19 has sadly put a stop to live performances for the moment, yet opened up an exciting virtual world instead.

Last March, we were remotely rehearsing our family holiday show, Come Trot to Camelot: singing and Makaton signing over Zoom is hilariously tricky!  With full lockdown, and not wishing to disappoint our families, especially given the little accessible theatre provision for children with SEND anyway, I did a quick re-write of the show. This was then filmed in our family back garden with just me and my daughter performing, and my husband roped in as cameraman. The neighbours must have wondered what we were up to with a castle drawbridge on our decking! 

Even virtually, we maintained Head2Head’s multi-sensory and interactive style by supplying an advance pack with all the bits and bobs needed for joining in with the video.  We encouraged viewers to joust, become Will-o’-the-Wisps, collect jewels, mend the round table, be knighted, dance around a maypole and, of course, Makaton sign.

Young man dressed as a wizard Come Trot to Camelot had a great reception as you will see from Merlin the Magician, at home.

“What a fabulous way to spend the morning. My son, who has special needs, beamed from start to finish and made a fabulous Merlin.”

This was particularly gratifying as I always write a character into our family holiday shows for a young actor with SEND to perform alongside us. Merlin was to have been this character so to see that the virtual transition worked for this young man was fantastic.

So what next? Zoom shows!  

Over the summer, we produced three separate multi-sensory shows, again all Makaton signed and with accompanying advance packs to help families prepare.  For instance, in Beachcombers & Mudlarking there was mucking about in cereal-sand and chocolate-mud; in Toad’s Totally Awesome Adventure discovering slimy pondweed; and in Hatter’s Hectic Tea Dance buttering yummy scones.

“The session you ran was superb in many ways; it was fun, it really held attention, it was organised both in terms of helping us prepare for the session and also in delivering the session, and above all it was inclusive at all levels.   A great success and a refreshing change that was really appreciated at this time.”

These Zoom events came under the umbrella Snacks & Chats, as following the show we had a catch-up with the families. We were aware that many had been shielding for lengthy periods due to their children’s vulnerability. Being conscious of mental wellbeing, it was lovely to offer a space for the families to check-in with each other and share experiences.

And we wouldn’t be Head2Head unless we produced a pantomime - Cinderella! This video was not only accompanied by an advance pack but also Zoom sessions with a panto character running a fun workshop for schools and families to prepare for their pantomime.  Here the children rehearsed their own panto characters, learned Makaton signing for the ‘Gungy Gunky Giggles’ song, and joined in with a bit of disco dancing too!  

Owen watching Cinderella “Listening to Owen laughing out loud while watching Head2Head Sensory Theatre’s interactive pantomime ‘Cinderella’, while surrounded with homemade props, is just magical.”

And we finished off the year with some 0-4 year-old Seasonal Sensory Singsong Zoom sessions exploring everything Christmassy!

What next? 

Well, we have a Zoom sleuthing mystery Stevie Solvesit and the Case of the Stolen Car coming up on 9th, 10th, 16th & 17th January.  And we’re very excited to announce that one of our super actor-volunteers with SEND is going to be joining us online to play Stevie’s sidekick, Bertie Bravesit.  Do get in touch to book a place: www.h2hsensorytheatre.com/shop/

Although live, multi-sensory, and immersive work is what Head2Head Sensory Theatre is all about, we’ve evolved!  And we continue to evolve digitally, looking into green-screens and GoPro cameras to help our signature style jump through your screens. The silver-lining in these difficult times is that we shall continue to film our productions, even after we have returned to live performances.  These videos can reach a far wider audience than from touring alone so even more children with SEND will have the chance to enjoy the world of stories, make-believe and fun.

Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @h2htheatre

Author

Sara Cole

Artistic Director
Head2Head Sensory Theatre

7th January 2021

At work

Restart a Heart Day
07/01/2021

Restart a Heart Day

Kerry and Felix with Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Kerry and Felix with Yorkshire Ambulance ServiceYorkshire Ambulance Service started Restart a Heart Day (16th October) in 2014, with the aim of improving outcomes from cardiac arrest in the county by teaching people cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The campaign is delivered entirely by volunteers from the service and partners who give up their time to go in to school to teach.

Since 2014 the campaign has grown significantly, with all UK ambulance services agreeing to take part in 2016, along with the first international partnership with Ambulance Victoria in Australia. In 2018 the campaign gathered such momentum that it was adopted by the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) and became World Restart a Heart Day.

Nationally across the UK in 2019, nearly 300,000 people were taught CPR in one day.

Since its inception in Yorkshire in 2014, over 151,000 students have been taught CPR across the county. Yorkshire Ambulance Service has always tried to make the training as inclusive as possible by visiting pupil referral units and special educational needs schools, in addition to the mainstream schools.

CPR demonstrationThe coronavirus pandemic has made Yorkshire Ambulance Service re-evaluate the training delivery method which was previously all face-to-face. It allowed us to create some new resources that we had wanted to do for some time, including material that reached people with communication difficulties.

Fortunately, having worked with Liz Herrieven as part of the Restart a Heart campaign she was able to put me in touch with Amanda Glennon. After a discussion about the campaign, and how we could work together Amanda agreed to help us create some wonderful new Makaton resources. In the first instance some resuscitation key words were identified and Amanda set about creating some prompt cards of signs and symbols for these words (free to download from the Makaton Library). We were also put in contact with Kerry Cawley, a Makaton instructor local to our headquarters.

Kerry and her son Felix kindly worked with my colleague, Dave Jones, to instruct him how to use Makaton signing for a CPR training video. The result is great and I’m sure it will be a really useful resource for students with communication difficulties. I know that from conversations with Dave he thoroughly enjoyed learning Makaton and is now planning to build on that initial experience and take some lessons.


I would like to thank The Makaton Charity, Amanda and Kerry for helping to make CPR training more accessible. This is hopefully the start of a partnership with Yorkshire Ambulance Service to create some fantastic, accessible educational materials for a number of curriculum areas.
Author

Jason Carlyon

Senior Engagement Lead (Community)
Yorkshire Ambulance Service

5th November 2020

At work

New Year, New MakaYou
06/01/2021

New Year, New MakaYou

Makaton symbol for To Run

New Year, New MakaYou

 

Sign up for a 7-day FREE Founders Membership trial and search for the video 'To Run' in the Makaton Library. See how many times you can use the sign!

Visit makaton.org/membership  to create your account (one free trial per person).

This is the last month to become a Founder Member! Founders Membership is available until 31st January 2021. This includes access to and download of the Core Vocabulary plus an additional 700 signs and symbols from the Living and Learning resource, absolutely FREE! Don't miss out on this exclusive offer.

Published

6th January 2021

News

Group Membership Webinars
06/01/2021

Group Membership Webinars

Group of four women signing Good

The date for these webinars has now passed.

On Wednesday 20th January we will be hosting two live webinars, giving a tour of the Group Founders Membership benefits.

Group Membership is perfect for sharing within a family and between professionals, with up to four individual logins. The four logins include all of the Founders Membership benefits plus the facility to share your favourite folders between Group Members, providing continuity of language between the support network and the Makaton User. Great value at £90 per year (£22.50 per year per person).

Join us on the 20th January to find out what Group Membership can offer you, including a Q&A.

Published

6th January 2021

News

20% off Workshops for Founder Members
06/01/2021

Workshop discount for Founder Members

Four members of the Happy Mondays Club

This offer ended on 31st January 2021.

We are offering 20% off to Founder Members for all Level 1 to 4 Makaton Workshops booked before the end of 31st January 2021. This discount can only be used on Workshops that are run by The Makaton Charity.

If you are Founder Member, please log in to get your 20% workshop discount code.

If you are not yet a Founder Member, click here to join.

This is the last month to become a Founder Member! Founders Membership is available until 31st January 2021. This includes access to and download of the Core Vocabulary plus an additional 700 signs and symbols from the Living and Learning resource, absolutely FREE! (Makaton will honour the additional 700 signs and symbols year on year, for as long as you renew your membership.)

Please note: The discount is only available to Individual and Group Founder Members. It is not available to Trial Members.

Published

14th January 2021

News

Countdown to Christmas 2020
05/01/2021

Countdown to Christmas 2020

Young people signing and singing

A massive thank you to everyone who took part in our Countdown to Christmas.

To help you get through the dark days of January we’ve put together a few highlights and outtakes. Enjoy!

Published

6th January 2021

News

Group Founders Membership
03/12/2020

Group Founders Membership

Group Founders Membership is available until 31st January 2021. This includes access to and download of the Core Vocabulary plus an additional 700 signs and symbols from the Living and Learning resource, absolutely free!

The Living and Learning vocabulary set includes the following topics:

  • Timetable subjects
  • Days of the week
  • Body parts
  • Material
  • Time and seasons
  • Shapes
  • Plants and tree
  • Derbyshire Language Scheme vocabulary

The Group Founders Membership  offer lasts until 31st January 2020.

 

Click on the button to visit the Makaton Library. You need to be signed in to access the Library.

If you haven't already registered it is free to sign up, don't miss out on a huge variety of free resources... Create an account

 

Published

3rd December 2020

News

Christmas stocking fillers
26/11/2020

Christmas stocking fillers

Christmas stocking fillers

Christmas stocking fillers

 

Spread the Makaton Magic this Christmas:

* STOP PRESS * Adult T-Shirts now available:

Published

26th November 2020

News

Totemigo special offer
25/11/2020

Totemigo special offer

Totemigo

This offer ended 31st December 2020.

Totemigo is a multi-purpose tactile tool which uses Makaton symbols to help you communicate and learn in a variety of fun ways. You can use Totemigo for making choices, sentences, matching and much more.

Published

25th November 2020

News

Founders Membership
13/11/2020

Founders Membership

Cheerful young man surrounded by Christmas baubles

The Perfect Christmas Gift! Makaton Founders Membership

It is fantastic to see so many of you joining the Core Membership. We have received great feedback from many members who are exploring the Makaton Library and making the most of their access to the vocabulary signs, symbols and videos. MakaChat, the exclusive membership community space, has also seen lots of interaction with our knowledgeable Tutors and Ambassadors.

We would like to thank all of you who have supported us by joining the membership offer. As an added benefit for all members who have signed up to the Core membership package, you will now be moved into a Founders Membership category. Anyone who signs up between now and the 31st January 2021 will also become a Founder Member, for the same price as Core Membership.

Founders Membership gives access to our Living and Learning vocabulary set, which offers an additional 700 signs and symbol free of charge.

Topics include:

  • Timetable subjects
  • Days of the week
  • Body parts
  • Material
  • Time and seasons
  • Shapes
  • Plants and tree
  • Derbyshire Language Scheme vocabulary

Founders Membership makes the perfect Christmas present that keeps giving support throughout the year. With home-schooling on the rise, this is a great opportunity to ensure you have access to the tools you need.

 

Click on the button to visit the Makaton Library. You need to be signed in to access the Library.

If you haven't already registered it is free to sign up, don't miss out on a huge variety of free resources... Create an account

 

Published

13th November 2020

News

Communication Access UK
12/11/2020

Communication Access UK

Communication Access symbol

As face coverings become the norm in the current COVID-19 climate, communication between people is becoming increasingly challenging, and for approximately 14 million people who have additional communication needs it is even tougher.

Communication Access UK is an initiative developed in partnership by charities and organisations, including The Makaton Charity, that share a vision to improve the lives of people with communication difficulties.

Together, we’ve developed the Communication Access Symbol, a new disability access symbol, underpinned by a completely free training package and standards,  designed to make life easier for millions of people in the UK.

Communication Access UK was formed by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) in partnership with Stroke Association, Headway, MND Association, Disability Rights UK, Business Disability Forum, Communication Matters, The Makaton Charity, and The National Network of Parent Carer Forums.  

If you would like to support with raising funding for this fantastic initiative you can donate through the crowd funding page.

The training for organisations gives them information and awareness of how they can support all with a communication need. The organisation can then further their support to the Makaton community by attending Makaton training to enable them to gain Makaton Friendly  status, which recognises they have attended a certain level of training and they have key staff who can support the Makaton user with signs and symbols. The Makaton Friendly initiative is under review and will be ready early in the new year.

About the new Communication Access symbol

 

Wilfred, one of our Makaton Advocates, talks with Richard Fish, Makaton Ambassador, about what the Communication Access symbol means to him, and how the Makaton Friendly initiative helps with the use of signs and symbols

Published

12th November 2020

News

Makaton with Lucinda, Founders Membership
11/11/2020

Makaton with Lucinda, Founders Membership

Nikki and Lucinda Hi, I'm Nikki! I have 3 children, and I use Makaton with my youngest, Lucinda. I am also training to be a Makaton Tutor! So I use the Makaton Hub as a parent, and now also as a trainee!

I am really enjoying my new Founders Membership on the Hub!  It is so useful to have all the signs and symbols just at my fingertips  and I love that I can log on from my phone when I am out and about if I need to quickly check a sign - so handy! It is good to have all the signs and symbols in one place too, without needing to look in different manuals etc. I am approaching Tutor training, so having everything all together in once place to revise from is really helpful.

As a member I have access to all the Core Vocabulary sign videos, lline drawings and symbols. I find the videos especially are so helpful for checking accuracy against. With the new Founders Membership I also now can explore many more signs and symbols in the new Living and Learning folder. Here are some of bits I have found interesting in there so far...

There is a section with useful signs in relation to school - ART, DRAMA etc. This would be helpful for schools themselves and for making timetables etc, but also useful for me at home to open up conversations about school with Lucinda.

There is a section with lots of geographical signs and symbols too, things like HILL, LAKE, BEACH, PUDDLE etc, which will be fab to learn ready for trips out, or talking about our local area etc. I am thinking about making Lucinda a photo album of our local area as she has been learning about this at school - so now I can add Makaton symbols to it and can teach her the signs too.

There is a folder called Tme and Seasons, and within this are some lovely signs & symbols for things like WINTER, SUNSET, SHADOW etc. Lucinda is fascinated by her shadow!

Lucinda and Zack have fun with symbolsI really like the folder with all the weather vocabulary in it, I am hoping to make Lucinda a weather chart using the symbols so she can change it each day when she looks out the window! Out comes the laminator!

Other useful vocabulary that I have spotted are words like DANGER, LOUD, NOISE, etc and I know these will all come in handy! I even found a sign and a symbol for YUK! Lucinda has a habit of refusing whatever I make for dinner, pushes it away saying "Eeeew!" then promptly pulls her plate back and gobbles up the lot! No need for the sign for YUK, however it is there should you want it!

The Hub gives you access to lots of other resources to download too, some recipes, fab games. Lucinda loves the board games, and I am going to download her some of the matching games next and I think she would like the animal bingo especially! We have also downloaded some of the books so we can add Makaton when we share books together at home.

There is a section on the Hub called MakaChat , a community space where you can ask any questions, share ideas etc. I haven't used this much yet myself but I am sure I will do as I move forward with my Makaton journey!

CHRISTMAS OFFER: Founders Membership £60 until 31st December 2020. This includes access to and download of the Core Vocabulary plus an additional 700 signs and symbols from the Living and Learning resource, absolutely FREE! (Makaton will honour the additional 700 signs and symbols year on year, for as long as you renew your membership.)

Author

Nikki H

11th November 2020

At home

Maggi Golding
04/11/2020

Maggi Golding

Maggi Golding

Maggi GoldingThe Makaton Charity would like to express our deep sadness at the passing of Maggi Golding.

Maggi was South Africa’s national Makaton coordinator; her passion, energy and drive was a real inspiration to all that she met. She will be dearly missed.

We send our love and support to our Makaton Family in South Africa at this difficult time ❤️

Maggi Golding obituary

Published

4th November 2020

News

Eleanor's story
02/11/2020

Eleanor's Story

Eleanor signs HelloOur daughter Eleanor was born in April 2018 and shortly after her birth she was diagnosed with Down's syndrome. I feel like our journey with Makaton started instantly from that point, but in fact she was probably 5 or 6 days old.

Eleanor spent the first few weeks of her life on the Special Care baby unit. A few weeks before she was born, there had been a video that went viral of lots of mums using Makaton with their children. We hadn’t known anything about it, but there was an incredibly kind neonatal nurse who suggested we Google it. All the children featured had DS and it was so heart-warming to see. My husband and I sat in hospital with tears in our eyes. From there we set ourselves the challenge of learning Makaton and that’s when I stumbled on the Makaton website, with so much information and tons of resources. I wanted to absorb as much as I could to help Eleanor have the best possible start.

In the beginning, I tried learning too many signs, all at once. I started a weekly class where we learnt around 10 signs a week. In reality, it wasn’t possible. Having not long given birth for the first time and how challenging that was in itself, coupled with the added shock of Eleanor’s diagnosis, the goal I’d set myself was too great. So, I took a step back and decided to stick to one sign at a time. That’s what I needed, from that point it was as if everything started to become a lot clearer, being able to break signing down into manageable chunks helped us a lot.

Eleanor and Helen We used the same theory when it came to Eleanor learning signs and tried to focus on one at a time, rather than overwhelming her.

We started with ‘thank you’ and it really didn’t take her long at all. When Eleanor was about 9 months old, she mastered ‘thank you’ in around 3 weeks. We continued for a couple of weeks with just that one sign and then moved on. From there, it started to become clear to us that she was able to take on more and more signs until we got to the point where she could learn a sign a day.

In the last few months, we have noticed a shift in the way Eleanor uses signing, she has gone from being able to sign around 50/70 different items from flash cards, to actively asking for them in everyday life. She will now tell us regularly when she needs the toilet or which food she wants - more often than not it is a banana, her favourite snack!

In the last few weeks, Eleanor’s Speech and Language Therapist has tasked us with putting two signs together, so that is something that we’re currently working towards.

Her speech is coming along really well too, and we have started to notice that just like her signing, she is now almost at the stage of learning a word or sound a day. One thing that having Eleanor has taught me, is that everyone learns in their own way and in their own time. Nobody should be pressured, and every individual will get there; it might just take you a little longer.

Author

Helen M

2nd November 2020

At home

DJ Jay spreads joy during lockdown
01/11/2020

DJ Jay spreads joy during lockdown

DJ JayWhen lockdown struck, Jake who is 17, felt it was important to provide a fun inclusive environment for young people with Learning Disability, Autism and /or Communication difficulties whose worlds had become restrictive due to self-isolating at home.

As Jake’s diary of event bookings was cancelled, he decided to use the time and technology to run events on Facebook live, making them open to more people. The events ran every Saturday and Sunday and incorporated music, fun, dance, and Makaton! They were enjoyed by many people and families who looked forward to joining each weekend, making song requests, adding comments to the stream, and feeling safe in an environment where they could be included.

This was impressive for a young man who left school less than a year ago, but Jake’s caring inclusion story starts before then. Jake has always shared an incredibly special bond with his cousin Alice from the first time they met. Whenever the two families would meet Jake would always be found at Alice’s side entertaining her, chatting to her, and helping her navigate her way through whatever was happening.

Alice who has a learning disability and uses Makaton to communicate needs that extra understanding to access everyday things you and I take for granted. On a family holiday several years ago Alice and Jake went along to the on-site entertainment where the host kept looking right through Alice as if she weren’t there. Alice did not understand why she was not being given the chance to go up on stage or win a prize and she got upset. Eventually Jake took matters into his own hands and gave the host a prize to take to Alice – Alice was delighted.

Jake, who was at this time already running his own local DJ business decided that he never wanted any children to feel like this at his events. He wanted everyone to feel included and so he completed formal Makaton training to support this.

Jake and AliceJake immediately saw the benefit Makaton would bring to other entertainers and so he helped design a special taster Workshop for Party Entertainers, where he gave a presentation on how Makaton had helped him become a better, more inclusive entertainer. It inspired them all!

Following this Jake received his Makaton Friendly status – the first DJ/Entertainer in the UK to do this. Jake and Alice were invited to attend Positive Choices - an annual conference for student nurses supporting people with learning disabilities. Jake ran workshops demonstrating how he uses Makaton, the message being if he can learn Makaton to support entertainment surely they too can learn Makaton to support people like Alice when in their care, when patients are at their most anxious and vulnerable. Together Alice and Jake have inspired many people. Last year Jake was nominated and selected as a BBC Teen Awards finalist, he was invited to Kensington Palace where he met The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Taking feedback from his early lockdown sessions Jake has now developed a series of online events for the whole family to attend. With support from NHS England Transforming Care funding a number of families have been able to sign up to a series on 4 sessions where DJ Jay is the host for activities, song, dance and Makaton, improving wellbeing and support to the whole family. Jake is an inspiration to those he meets and continues to rise to the challenges placed in the way of people like Alice, although to him he is not doing anything special he is just being Jake.

Author

Amanda Glennon

1st November 2020

Out and about

Black History Month
26/10/2020

Black History Month

Front pages of Black History Month vocabulary and game downloads

In support of Black History Month we have two free Makaton downloads available from the Makaton Library, in collaboration with Makaton Tutors Nicola Pike and Kris Campbell, a vocabulary download and a matching game.

Front pages of the Black History Month vocabulary and matching game downloads

 
 

Click on the button to visit the Makaton Library. You need to be signed in to access the Library.

If you haven't already registered it is free to sign up, don't miss out on a huge variety of free resources... Create an account

 

Published

26th October 2020

News

Sign & Symbol Downloads
22/09/2020

Sign & Symbol Downloads

Cheerful baby wearing a colourful stripy cardigan

We have been listening to your feedback over the past 3 weeks and it’s wonderful to see so many of you enjoying your access to Makaton Signs and Symbols housed in the NEW Makaton Library. We have also had positive reports of many users gaining support and guidance through the exclusive MakaChat social area.

A common thread of feedback that we received was the desire to download Signs and Symbols within the Makaton Library, on reflection we too think this would be a fabulous addition.

With immediate affect we have introduced the new capability to enable you to download up to 40 signs and symbols per month* to support your Makaton journey – Enjoy!

Not a member yet?  Then you are missing out…..

If you would like to have a 7 day free trial of the new Core Membership, please sign up for a free account  then go to the Membership page . Click the 7 day free trial link and you will have access to over 500 Makaton Signs and Symbols, download options and entry into the Core Member MakaChat discussion group.

* You can download any combination of signs, symbols and PDF files, up to 40 per month. For example: 40 signs; or 20 signs and 20 symbols; or 15 signs, 15 symbols and 10 PDF files etc.

Published

22nd September 2020

News

Makaton opens doors
16/09/2020

Makaton opens doors

Going on a bear hunt book and teddy

I'm Angharad and I'm a Dance Artist based in North Wales. I'm sure you are wondering what a dance artist does? Well, it is a really rewarding and wonderful job. I get to travel across the country, sometimes the world, sharing dance through performing, teaching and choreographing.

I often work within settings where I felt I was lacking in my communication skills with the children and adults I work with. So, during lockdown I seized the opportunity to further develop my skills and attended Makaton Level 1 and Level 2 training with Makaton Tutor Corrine Lloyd.

These last few weeks I have had the absolute pleasure to work at the Theatr Clwyd summer hubs in partnership with Flintshire social services. I’ve been facilitating with a group of wonderful children with varying needs and abilities. 

During our fun-filled days I've been able to put my Makaton training into practice. From the minute the children come into the room Makaton allows us to communicate and allows us to begin to form a relationship. As I begin to sign as I speak, I can see their faces light up as they recognise that I speak Makaton, and we begin to sow those seeds of trust between us. Makaton has allowed us a way to communicate and to establish a relationship built on understanding, something that has been invaluable during this time of relaxation of lockdown, as we are all emerging from months of being within our family bubbles. 

Being able to access the Makaton resources for We’re Going on a Bear Hunt has been fabulous. It is a favourite story of mine to use with children, we have great fun swaying through grass and lavender, splashing with material, and moving through a snowstorm of bubbles. To be able to integrate Makaton signs and symbols easily within the sessions has helped us to find our way together. The story is known to many of the children, which allows us to introduce new experiences of dance within the familiarity of the story, which in turn gives the children confidence to come with us on a movement adventure.

I am grateful to Makaton for opening the doors to effective communication and allowing us to have a great time together this summer, despite all the uncertainty about what the future holds. So much laughter and smiles have been had which have arisen out of the trust built through communication with Makaton.

Author

Angharad H

16th September 2020

At work

Baking with Alfie
08/09/2020

Baking with Alfie

Alfie with logoMy name is Alfie. I’m 6 years old and I just love baking. I am blessed with an extra chromosome. I was born 6 weeks early, I clearly couldn’t wait to get out into the world and start baking! I have a severe speech and language delay, but I find making baking videos really helps my speech, language and also my Maths as I can practise in a fun, no pressure environment.

Alfie rolling pastryCan you believe I actually used to be afraid of the noise the stand mixer made?! I know you wouldn’t believe it now, would you? Just goes to show you that in life you should always push yourself outside your comfort zones as you never know what you’re a capable of achieving until you do.

I’m now in Year 2 at my mainstream Infant school, having just returned back to my proper school after 6 months of Mummy school. I love swimming, water, books, music, dancing and generally just being outside. Food-wise I love all foods, but particularly chocolate, crisps, ice cream, blueberries & obviously cake! I love going on long walks and regularly walk 2 miles + each day. I hope you enjoy my baking and it inspires you to get your #BakeOn #BakingWithAlfie

Alfie and MummyThe mum behind the baker...

Hi, I'm Sarah, proud Mummy to Alfie, who has been blessed with an extra chromosome!

My Makaton journey started 6 years ago when Alfie was born. I first started with a Makaton Signing for Babies course at my local children’s centre and then graduated onto Dave Benson Phillips, Singing Hands (Tracy and Suzanne are absolute goddesses in our house!), and Mr Tumble.

I then decided I wanted to increase my Makaton knowledge, so I could help Alfie find his voice and gain his independence. So, I then did my Level 1 & 2 Makaton training, and I have recently just completed my Level 3 training. I now can’t wait to start my Level 4 training later this year, as I’ve decided I’d really like to progress to become a Makaton Tutor.

Alfie and birthday cakeDuring lockdown, I started #BakingWithAlfie across Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, where we use Makaton. Not only does it help Alfie with his speech development, but it also increases awareness of Makaton across a wider audience, in an underused setting. Alfie has a severe speech and language delay and we use his baking as a way to introduce SALT and Maths work in a non-pressured environment, and we also happen to get some tasty bakes out of it too! I'm hoping to set this up as a business moving forward - fingers crossed!

Please follow us via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Author

Sarah C

8th September 2020

At home

Back to school: special offers
23/08/2020

Back to school: special offers

SALE: 20% off selected resources

This promotion ended on 30th September 2020.

To celebrate the return to school, we're giving 20% off the cost of selected resources until Wednesday 30th September 2020. Just add one or more of the resources listed below into your shopping cart, go to the checkout, type the code BACK2SCHOOL in to the promotional code field, and click Apply to get 20% off all the eligible products.

Screenshot of checkout showing BACK2SCHOOL code in the promotional code field

 

The special offer applies to the following resources:

Downloadable resources

Published

21st August 2020

News

Win a Mr Tumble Talk and Sing Soft Toy!
22/08/2020

Win a Mr Tumble Talk and Sing Soft Toy!

Win a Mr Tumble Talk and Sing Soft Toy!

The deadline for this competition was 30th September 2020.

To celebrate the launch of the Makaton Hub we are giving you the chance to win a Mr Tumble Talk and Sing Soft Toy.

For a chance to win head over to our Facebook page and comment on our post, telling us your favourite Makaton symbol or sign!

Terms and Conditions

  1. The promoter is: The Makaton Charity (company no. 06280108)whose registered office is at 66 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3LH.
  2. The competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom aged 18 years or over except employees of The Makaton Charity and their close relatives and anyone otherwise connected with the organisation or judging of the competition.
  3. There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.
  4. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
  5. Route to entry for the competition and details of how to enter are via https://makaton.org/TMC/News_Stories/News/Win_a_Mr_Tumble_Talk_and_Sing_Soft_Toy
  6. Only one entry will be accepted per person. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified.
  7. Closing date for entry will be 30th September 2020. After this date the no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
  8. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
  9. The rules of the competition and how to enter are as follows: Write a comment directly on the Facebookpost stating your favourite Makaton sign.
  10. The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in any event outside of the promoter’s control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.
  11. The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.
  12. The prize is as follows: Mr Tumble Talk and Sing Soft Toy.
  13. The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.
  14. Winners will be chosenat random by software, from all entries received and verified by The Makaton Charity.
  15. The winners will be notified by DM on Facebook within 28 days of the closing date. If the winner cannot be contacted or do not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
  16. The Makaton Charity will notify the winners when and where the prize can be collected / is delivered.
  17. The Makaton Charity’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will beentered into.
  18. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
  19. The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by English law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England.
  20. The winners agree to the use of his/her name and image in any publicity material, as well as their entry. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current UK data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.
  21. Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.
  22. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other Social Network. You are providing your information to The Makaton Charity and not to any other party.
Published

22nd August 2020

News

Totemigo and Harry
20/08/2020

Totemigo and Harry

Harry with his Totemigo

Harry with his Totemigo We started signing with our son Harry, who has Down's syndrome, from when he was about 9 months old. Seeing the difference Makaton made to him and how he was able to communicate with us before he could talk, made me want to continue the courses and become a Makaton Tutor.

Harry is now verbal, but we still use Makaton to aid his learning and to ensure that he has a way of communicating with others if they are finding his speech unclear and difficult to understand. Harry loves to use Makaton with singing and the school choir have started using Makaton, which is lovely to see how he can now be fully included in their performances.

The past few months have been quite challenging, having to home-school Harry and constantly think of new activities to hold his attention. Then Makaton launched the Totemigo, which I had been eager to use since I had been shown it on our Tutor Study Day back in November. I immediately joined the Totemigo website and started to make symbol strips. These are really easy to create, thanks to the template that is provided online and you can also download ones that other people have already made.

Harry has previously used colourful semantics in his speech and language therapy sessions, so I thought that this would be a good place to start with him. Due to the tactile nature of the Totemigo, Harry was instantly drawn to it and was desperate to try it out, even before he knew how to use it.

We have used the Totemigo to create sentences and Harry is now starting to recognize different word types such as nouns, verbs and adjectives. When using the Totemigo, Harry chooses the different symbols himself and then reads the sentence aloud. If he finds it doesn’t make sense, he then goes back to correct himself. He then signs the sentence and records it in his book.

He enjoys having the symbols in front of him to check he has remembered the sentence correctly. This has given him a far better understanding of how to construct sentences and can even now replace given words with synonyms, which he loves to do. Harry has loved using the Totemigo and we are planning to create mixed-up fairytale strips, so that he can make up some amusing stories containing a range of different characters and settings.

 
 

I can see that this is a really useful tool for schools and speech therapists. In fact, after speaking to Harry’s class teacher and 1:1 about the Totemigo, they are already planning to order some to help support many of the children’s learning needs. It is also extremely robust, so won’t get broken easily, as due to its bright colours and pleasing shape, every child will undoubtedly be desperate to use it. We look forward to using it more.

Totemigo is a multi-purpose tactile tool which uses Makaton symbols to help you communicate and learn in a variety of fun ways. You can use Totemigo for making choices, sentences, matching and much more.

Totemigo is available to purchase from our shop for £59.

Author

Jemma S

20th August 2020

At home

Meet the Makaton Ambassadors
19/08/2020

Meet the Makaton Ambassadors

Peter Rooney, Makaton Ambassador

We would like to congratulate and celebrate the success of the new Makaton Ambassadors being welcomed onboard to support with a wide variety of areas with their skill and expertise.

They are the first cohort of Ambassadors to be announced since our founder Margaret Walker left her legacy of our Senior Tutors, who continue to strive to maintain the quality of the Makaton Language Programme and continue to pass on the knowledge to our Ambassadors. You will see our Ambassadors out about in the community supporting the development of Makaton across all possible aspects.

Published

19th August 2020

News

Going To Hospital Book
18/08/2020

Going To Hospital Book

Amanda Glennon and friends

Amanda Glennon and friends

Hi, my name is Angie Emrys-Jones and I am co-author of the Looking Up book series for Cornwall Down's Syndrome Support Group (CDSSG), of which my 13 year old son is a member.

We have been creating accessible books at CDSSG since 2014 when the very first book, ‘Looking Up’, was created for brand new parents coming to terms with the news that their little one is chromosomally enhanced. Our subsequent books followed the same pictorial style: ‘Tea at Grandmas’ for grandparents, an update of the original ‘Looking Up’ book, and also our most famous publication, ‘Going To School’, which inspired the very wonderful LD Nurse that is Jane Rees to approach me about creating something similar for the hospital setting.

The Learning Disability and Autism Liaison TeamJane Rees leads the Learning Disability and Autism Liaison Team at our local hospital and is passionate about making Hospital visits for patients with learning disability and autism less stressful for them and their families. Jane has been a practicing Learning Disability Nurse for over 26 years supporting and advocating for individuals with a LD or autism, making sure they receive equality of care.

After our initial chat, the lightbulb switched on and we both instantly knew that ‘Going To Hospital’ would be born and be a massive success for so many families across the country.

So, what is it?

Going To Hospital is an accessible publication for patients with learning disability or autism and aims to help children & young people with additional needs to know what they might expect to see when visiting hospital for an appointment or when being admitted for a procedure.

Front cover of Going to Hospital bookThis is done by filling the book with real life pictures of our children and young people in the hospital environment having blood test and scans etc and supporting the images with Makaton symbols throughout, with an index at the back of signs and symbols to promote communication during the clinical episode and beyond.

The book can be used to build communication and relationships between the child and health professionals, to help the child feel empowered and in control of their health decisions. Knowing the plan and what is going to happen to them at each stage has proven to enhance their experience and hopefully a more positive one with the use of this book.

In Cornwall, all patients in the county are eligible for a free hard copy from the Royal Cornwall Hospital LD Nursing team. But what if I don’t live in Cornwall? Don’t panic, the book is also be available in digital format hosted on the RCHT website and other outlets so that those with anxiety, autism etc no matter where they live will have an avenue to view the images from their device at home in preparation of a visit to hospital.

Download 'Going to Hospital' as a PDF file

Our good friend and Looking Up Books Makaton Collaborator Amanda Glennon from Inclusive Teaching Matters has produced a pdf download of all signs and symbols used in the book in the form of Healthcare Prompt Cards. These are free to download from the Makaton Library. It is intended that wards use the health cards in the download to provide now & next boards with a timeline of treatment – medicine / operation / sleep / wake up / eat / drink / toilet / home etc - thereby creating a visual timetable for patients who need more support to embed their understanding and manage expectations of procedures or admissions etc.

Healthcare Prompt CardsThe project has the support of Mencap as this runs in line with their national Treat Me Well campaign, the Downs Syndrome Research Foundation and also Paula McGowan’s high profile #OliversCampaign following the preventable death of her son Oliver in 2016 due to poor care and inappropriate treatment.

Oliver’s story, and others like his, are one of the main drivers for this project, we want to make sure the voices of our young people are heard in the clinical setting and that they are communicated with appropriately and are in control of their care as much as possible.

Jane and I are beyond thrilled at the feedback we have had from families and are so excited to work with other trusts to make the book transferable and more relevant to other hospitals.

Author

Angie Emrys-Jones

18th August 2020

Out and about

Welcome to our new website
04/08/2020

Welcome to our new website

#BlackLivesMatter

Stephen signing OKThe new Makaton website heralds an exciting chapter for The Makaton Charity. Over the past 6 months, in addition to developing online training and launching the revised Level 3 workshop guides and manuals, the team at Makaton head office have been beavering away to get our new and interactive website up and running.

This has ensured that the charity has both successfully weathered the Covid storm, while also starting us on Our Vision to ‘Double the number of people using and engaging with the Makaton language programme’.

What’s new?

The new website provides a range of additional functionality, including easier access to free resources and downloads, including current and back copies of Sign of the Week. The website offers improved self-service, with the ability to track your relationship with the Charity, download invoices, and where appropriate pay by Purchase Order, together with enhanced searching to help you find local and online training in your area.

Later in the month, we will be launching our new Makaton membership scheme, open to the public. The membership scheme will for the first time offer users direct access into the Makaton Library and MakaChat social area. The Makaton Library enables users to search our database of signs, symbols, and videos. MakaChat provides a Charity-approved facility to contact and ask questions to our team of experienced tutor ambassadors.

Expanding the Makaton Library

We will be setting out our aspirations for new products and services. These will include expanding the searchable database from our Core Vocabulary collection to include our full Resource database, with over 65,000 assets, supporting over 15,000 sign and symbol concepts. Makaton will be creating one of the largest digital searchable sign and symbol databases in the world.

New initiatives and aspirations

Longer term we are working on a range of new and exciting initiatives; from online booking where you will be able to register and pay for Tutors run courses to offering a self-service templating, where you will be able to develop your own Makaton forms and materials. We will be rolling out new and exciting online and face to face refresher training and practice sessions, so you can feel more confident using Makaton more fluently.

Finally following your feedback we are working with a range of third-party providers to better link the Makaton language programme with existing online and app-based provision, with the aim of making Makaton one of the best integrated language programmes.

Digital vs Traditional

While this is an exciting and significant step into a digital world, we are not forgetting the importance of direct delivery and the support that a face to face environment can offer, that is why we will be developing the digital alongside the more traditional teaching methods. Keep an eye out for the launch of the new Level 4 workshop, together with new signs and symbols to better meet the needs of our diverse community base.

Help and support

Do have a look at the website, it is well worth it.

If you do find things that aren’t quite right or if you need any support using the website, please drop us a note on the ‘Contact Us’ through the ‘Help’ icon on the website, or email our help desk team at help@makaton.org, and our wonderful Makaton team will be on the case.

Thank you once again for your support, do keeping a look-out for new developments and releases coming soon and enjoy browsing our new website and library hub.

Happy browsing.. and do keep signing!

Author

Stephen Hall

CEO, The Makaton Charity

4th August 2020

News

Joy Grimsby - Makaton for NHS Staff
16/06/2020

Joy Grimsby - Makaton for NHS Staff

My name is Joy, I am a Makaton Tutor and Higher Level Teaching Assistant in Castle Batch Primary School, which is part of The Priory Learning Trust in Weston-super-Mare.  I just cannot believe the incredible things are happening to me at the moment involving Makaton and the NHS during lockdown!

This journey started 35 years ago when I was 22 years old and driving double decked busses for a living. A little girl with Down syndrome called Donna got onto my bus and gestured something to me. Her mum, an old school friend, said “she’s signing to you she’s learning Makaton at her school”.  That was my first ever Makaton sign. Donna had signed ‘cake’ her mum had just bought a cake from the shop. From that day on I started to pick up the occasional signs from Donna, who was a regular on my bus, teaching me new signs whenever we met. By the late 90’s I had started a family and so changed my job to accommodate my new lifestyle. This job was driving mini-busses for the local council supplying home to school transport for an SEN school. This is the job that changed my life! Having daily contact with children who had a range of difficulties and abilities, children with Down’s syndrome, children with autism, children with physical disabilities and children with global delay all using Makaton in some way. I became passionate about helping in any way I could including supplying respite at a local children’s respite centre.

Moving forward I retrained and was fortunate to get a position in Castle Batch Primary supporting a boy with autism on a 1:1 basis, this led me into the Speech and Language at the same school where I upped my retraining  and became a Higher Level Teaching Assistant. In 2010 I started my official Makaton Training delivered by the Springboard Opportunity Group and with the support of Castle Batch and Springboard completed my Tutor training.

Present day in lockdown at home. My friend, who is The Clinical Director of nursing, has been very busy preparing and recruiting staff for the new Nightingale Hospital Bristol. However she was very concerned about the feedback from other Nightingale Hospitals saying they found it very difficult to communicate with each other whilst wearing PPE so asked me to provide her with a few Makaton signs to help, of course I said yes and jumped at the chance to help. The Nightingale team decided on the words they needed, I put the signs and symbols into a poster and recorded a little video of how to make the signs for them to share during their own training. Little did I know what impact this would have! These few signs have become a local news story, I have been on local radio and local news broadcasts talking about Makaton, the Press association has shown interest and I have received hundreds of acknowledgments on social media! I am doing a webinar about Makaton to the NHS (possibly an audience of 200) which may also lead to more staff being trained up to use Makaton throughout Hospitals and care homes throughout the country.

Author

Joy Grimsby

16th June 2020

At work

Totemigo Trial
16/06/2020

Totemigo Trial

About 18 months ago I received delivery of an education tool called Totemigo. I had been asked to trial it for The Makaton Charity and had no idea what to expect. As a newly retired learning support teacher in Further Education and SEN teacher in Special Schools, and as a Makaton Regional Tutor I was interested to see the latest way of combining communication learning and Makaton symbols.

I run a community Makaton club (Makachat) for Makaton users who live semi independently and thought I would ask them to trial Totemigo. When it arrived, I was surprised to see that it is an old school object, in several sections which clip together magnetically with a satisfying clunk. I wanted to handle it immediately, and so did members of my Makachat group when we met. To use it requires turning each section so that you see a row of symbols that make up the syntactically correct sentence, and you can use smaller or greater numbers of sections as you build competence. My three testers were able to bring different experience to the challenge.

Totemigo Colourful SemanticsYou can use Totemigo with a stimulus picture on the first section, or you can find your stimulus elsewhere in a real-life situation, video etc. I populated the Totemigo with topics we suggested by the group, with a stimulus of a film clip linked to the topics we had been developing in the group already; signs and symbols to do with socialising in the community. I populated the Totemigo with concepts we were working on, and assigned a part of speech to each section, following the Colourful Semantics themes, i.e.

•    Who (Subject) – Orange.
•    What doing (Verb) – Yellow.
•    What (Object) – Green.
•    Where – Blue.

Oliver, William and Christopher are key members of the group. What I loved about the trial was that each one of them subverted my carefully planned activity and made it their own. Oliver, looking at the photo I had screened as a sentence stimulus, wanted to find a concept I hadn’t managed to include, ‘pub’ (you can now add concepts outside the core vocabulary). Oliver grasped the potential of the Totemigo immediately. He silently scanned and turned the Totemigo sections, seemingly oblivious to prompts.  Only once he’d made his decision about his sentence did he look up and was then happy to speak and sign to explain it. He remained grumpy that not all the concepts he wanted were there and was keen for me to give feedback about that.

 

In contrast William took the Totemigo, and found it difficult to rotate the sections, so we took it apart and he looked at the pieces individually. He discarded one of the sections and worked hard for a while to put it together. What he came up with was, quite unexpectedly, a rule for his mum about not using your phone in the cinema! He had chosen the symbol of ‘woman’ for ‘mum’ and the format allowed us to compare those two concepts afterwards to remind him of the difference.

 

Finally, Christopher had a go. He was less intuitive about the meaning of the symbols and it was more challenging for him to manipulate the pieces, so I gave him the sections separately. He had watched the others and picked up the way in which the other two had clicked the sections together and was pleased with those satisfying clunks. He could see that there was meaning in each section and once completed was happy to have a go at reading it back, with some support. I could see that it held his attention, allowed him to identify what he knew already and would be a good way of introducing new concepts to put together.

All three of the testing group used speech when reading back and signed when they had their hands free. They all used more concepts in the sentences they had made, and so were able to communicate in a more sophisticated way. They all reached for the Totemigo immediately and were motivated to use it. Finally, it gave them the time to process, to assimilate the information available and to use it in a way that allowed them to initiate, in their own time.

Well done everyone!

Totemigo is availble to purchase for £59

Author

Helen Hayhoe

16th June 2020

At work

Totemigo – bringing Makaton symbols to life
16/06/2020

Totemigo – bringing Makaton symbols to life!

Alice using Totemigo

As a parent and Makaton Tutor I have seen first hand the advantages that Makaton Symbols can bring as part of a multimodal approach for reading, writing , and developing memory skills.

I have found that they can sometimes printed card type resources can appear uninspiring to learners, and so when was asked to trial Totemigo by Makaton I was excited!

The totemigo is a robust, colourful ‘tool /toy’ which welcomes exploration and limited motor skills. The reels  attach together by internal magnets – it has a ‘rubic cube’ feel and I have found it kinaesthetic and undestructable (so far)!

Don’t be fooled by the colourful early years appearance – Totemigo uses are easily differeniated across ages and abilities and I see many uses across High School, Colleges and Adults to express feelings and choices. For example it could be used by people who have recently had a stroke and lost the ablilty to verbalise  to express their needs.

Each of the reels can be rotated vertically offering a choice of symbols and/or images and text. The vertical strips are produced online, printed, laminated and cut into strips to lead into one or more reels – depending how many you want to use. In the above pictures there are 4 and 3 reels used. The user can then build options by twisting the catridges and lining up the symbols up across the reels.

When you purchase your Totemigo you will receive the device itself (4 blank reels)  in a handy storage tube, an A4  folder to keep created activities in an activation code to enable your for your account on the Totemigo website.

Once you create your account you are able to view activities other people have shared and create and edit your own.

Using the online tool is relatively easy. When you choose to ‘+’ an image you will be able to switch on the Makaton tab and access all the Makaton Core Vocabulary symbols.

This is how it looks on screen. You can search by typing the start of the word and the symbols will be displayed to choose from. A click on the symbol adds it to your Vertical Strip.  Once you start creating an activity you can save, share and print , ready to laminate and load into your Totemigo. Previous activity strips can be stored in the folder for future use.

I have found many uses and thought I would share a few ideas here:

1. Simply Sentence building using only Core Vobabulary. You are able to colour the backgrounds, this means you can support a Colourful Semantics approach to the level your user needs

2. More personalised Sentences using pictures alongside the symbols by loading images

3. Symbol support for topic work like the 3 pigs, dear zoo by loading pictures and /or non core symbols.

Alice using Totemigo Whatever you are supporting as a Makaton Tutor I can recommend using the Totemigo, especically when talking about and illustrating the use of symbols – it really brings them to life.

My daughter Alice took the Totemigo into school to support some literacy work. Here is what her teacher said:

“Totemigo is an excellent tool which I found really helpful for children in a school setting. I used this at first for a sequencing activity within a communication activity. The pupils found it easy to use and the visuals created a great support and reference point. This would be a tool that I would use widely across my classroom for various activities and with a variety of children.”  Alicia Dooley – Dorin Park School

If you are interested in purchasing a Totemigo and have any questions please feel free to contact me . The after sales and technology support you will receive from Antonin and the team is also first class.

Highly recommended!

 

Totemigo is availble to purchase for £59 from the online shop.

Author

Amanda Glennon

16th June 2020

At work

Flamingo Chicks
16/06/2020

Flamingo Chicks

How Makaton helped us communicate our classes during Covid-19
New virtual classes 100,000 views and national TV coverage thanks to pioneering inclusivity online

Flamingo Chicks is an inclusive community bringing children together through dance. Early on in this pandemic we realised just how much of a challenge lockdown would be – as both CEO of Flamingo Chicks and mum to  a child with Cerebral Palsy – I too was having first-hand experience. 

We knew we had to find a way to continue supporting our families when our usual face-to-face classes weren’t possible.  Parents told us two big challenges were getting their children to exercise and also home-schooling.

Whilst there is an overwhelming amount of materials online, there is little that’s accessible for disabled children, particularly in terms of exercise.  And even less that is communicated in a way that they can access and understand.

Being out of routine and missing the familiarity of support from school and the raft of healthcare professionals is so unsettling - many families reported it felt like their world had been turned upside down. We wanted to recreate our content to provide that familiarity, a way for our children to express themselves and a moment of calm for parents/carers.

We partnered with science charity Lightyear Foundation to offer a unique blend of movement and science – supporting families both in terms of their child’s physical and mental wellbeing, but also keeping up their school work, with each session linked to the national curriculum.  And importantly, we recruited Makaton Tutor Nicola Pike from Better Communication Bristol as it was really important to us that our communication methods were accessible and also familiar to the children we work with, lots of whom we see regularly in special schools. Enter Makaton! Nic appears in all of our online classes, signing alongside our teachers. We know she’s a big hit with our viewers! Subtitles are also available on all of our videos.

Each week we release a new ‘virtual class’ with it's own theme, from Space to Le Corsaire (pirates) and Madame Butterfly to the Human Body.  Each has a STEM sub-theme and a spin-off science experiment from Dr Sarah Bearchall. Sarah is not only an experienced Science Presenter, she also specialises in working in SEN, and includes Makaton in her videos too.

As well as helping with home schooling, we know how much our children value story-telling and delving into their imaginations. We have produced a collection of children’s stories, written by our truly incredible volunteers, based around the theme of inclusion. Read by celebrities such as Ben Shephard, the extra sparkle is definitely the Makaton, again signed by Nic. The clear concepts that Nic signs really pull the stories together and enables everyone to engage with them.

Dance and movement provides a way for disabled children to not only develop their physical skills, such as balance and co-ordination, but to also express themselves in different ways, increasing their confidence, and enabling them to reach their full potential. Dance also develops key skills such as teamwork, communication skills, and problem solving whilst immersing children in a creative environment where they can feel free to be themselves.

Translating our inclusive and highly interactive classes into filmed sessions has certainly had it’s challenges. From green screens and lights in our living rooms, to matching up the Makaton with the class footage (ensuring the speech and signing are in unison) - all whilst working in isolation! However, our teachers found that Makaton was a really useful tool in keeping the content of the classes concise and clear. A key learning was to try and simplify the language of the sessions, to aid children's understanding. Knowing that the footage was being sent to Nic to sign really helped our teachers, as Nic would then pull out the key concepts, instructions and words from their speech to sign. This in turn helped the teachers realise the key message of their dialogue, and reduce their language as much as possible, to concentrate the content.

We are now on session 7 of our weekly virtual classes and the response has been phenomenal.  We’re up to 100,000 views across our platforms and we’ve been covered by a host of national TV programmes including Good Morning Britain, This Morning, Sky News and Channel 4.  We’ve had a sea of emails, messages and social posts from families as well as health, social care and education professionals saying how valued these new resources are.  We know they are being used in homes across the UK but also in settings like children’s hospices and hospitals and SEN schools looking after key workers’ and vulnerable children.  The thread through all the responses is the sense that disabled children and their families don’t feel alone – they feel connected again and part of something.

Feedback from families regularly includes the delight in Makaton being used so heavily, and some of the videos we’ve received show children excitedly pointing to Nic signing on the screen.  We hope that our classes will provide people with truly meaningful experiences that brighten their day and provide joy in the moment. We also hope they empower our young people - building confidence in their abilities and helping them learn new skills, whilst also celebrating who they are and creating a community of people that feel included, recognised and able to fulfil their potential.

 

Update: Flamingo Chicks have won the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

Author

Katie Sparkes

16th June 2020

Out and about

Condover College Ltd - Mr Blue Sky
16/06/2020

Condover College Ltd

SLT TeamCondover College Ltd is a small independent specialist college and residential care provider in the heart of Shropshire. Founded in 2004 by Steve McGill, a father who insisted the only very best care for his son, Matthew. Steve’s goal was to find a college that catered for his son’s disabilities and he struggled so he decided to start a college himself.

Today 16 years later, we continue Steve’s legacy of providing the best care and opportunities for learners aged 18+ who have moderate to severe learning disabilities, profound and multiple learning difficulties and additional complex needs.

Oli in the woodsWe provide Education, The Opportunities Programme, Care and Support including Accommodation and Short Breaks. Condover College has expanded and grows progressively every year, starting from just one residential home to now 13 residential homes nested in communities in and around Shrewsbury.

At CCL we use Makaton every day and we truly believe that it makes a huge difference to the lives of the people that we support. By making the world a more inclusive place, Makaton is helping everyone who lives with a communication difficulty to understand and be understood.

Emma hiking With this is mind, CCL wanted to fundraise for The Makaton Charity, to support them to be able to continue to provide the wonderful service that they offer. We had organised a Mini Makahike to take place at the beginning of May but this sadly could not take place due to the current COVID-19 situation. All was not lost… we decided to twist it up and collectively travel the equivalent distance of Snowdon as part of our daily exercise. And of course, no decent Mini Makahike is complete with a song so we all managed to practice the signs for ‘Mr Blue Sky’ and create a fun video compilation of our efforts.

Using platforms like FaceTime and Skype to communicate and teach the Makaton signs to learners and staff was a great method  to use in lockdown. Creating the video has lifted the spirits of everyone and put a smile on lots of faces! Our fundraising target was £100 and at the time of writing, we have reached £231. From everyone at CCL, we would like to thank everyone who has donated and to all staff and students who took part in the video.

Author

Condover College Ltd

16th June 2020

At school

Black Lives Matter
11/06/2020

Black Lives Matter

#BlackLivesMatter

The Charity is saddened by the challenges and prejudice still faced by Black members of the community. As an organisation we stand together with the victims of marginalisation and repression because of their race, and with those who seek change. At Makaton we value equality and inclusion, and Makaton is a language programme for everyone. As a Charity we are striving to expand accessibility to help everybody communicate effectively from all backgrounds.

We are committed to developing an enhanced cultural mix of support materials and where appropriate widen our language programme to reflect diversity. The recent events have made The Makaton Charity look at our own responsibilities, and we hope to meet the highest expectations of change and inclusion within our communication system.

We would like to show you some signs to help you support the #BlackLivesMatter movement:

 
 
Published

11th June 2020

News

Mr Blue Sky - with Makaton
12/05/2020

Mr Blue Sky - with Makaton

Suzanne 'playing' an inflatable guitar

As with our fellow Makaton Tutors (and the Charity too), Boris Johnson's lockdown announcement threw us into turmoil with the abrupt closure of all events, schools and any training opportunities. The news of the Covid-19 pandemic was scary not just from a health perspective but also from a livelihood perspective - how could we possibly manage to get through a prolonged period with no opportunity to work?

Those first couple of weeks after the announcement had us all plunged into a rapid learning phase trying to find out whether we could ride out this pandemic by running classes via this previously unheard of platform called Zoom.

In amongst all this learning (with a bit of panicking and the odd sob here and there), we decided that the best way to pick ourselves up was going to be through music and through collaboration and supporting each other. And if that music includes ample opportunity for comedy air guitar, then even better!

One of the wonderful and positive things about social media - particularly during these strange times - has been the ability to connect with fellow Makaton Tutors and build a network of colleagues, outside of Singing Hands, who all share the same passion for communication.

With that in mind, we posted on the Facebook group for Makaton Tutors asking who'd be up for joining in with a Makaton lip-synced rendition of Mr Blue Sky It's a classic song that you cannot help but feel uplifted by once you hear it. Our hope was that it would bring some joy in amongst all the fear.

Luckily we had lots of tutors all across the UK who put their hands up and said YES! We then translated the song (with thanks to Nic Pike and Tracy Clark too) and divided up the lines and the musical interludes and this is the result. Over 50 tutors, many of whom have appeared with their children, bringing so much happiness to others during lockdown. If you haven't seen it already we hope you like it.

Thank you so much to everyone who was up for being involved, we couldn't have achieved it without you.

 

Author

Suzanne Miell-Ingram

12th May 2020

Out and about

Castlemilk Family Learning Centre
12/05/2020

Castlemilk Family Learning Centre

Joanne and Johan with Dave Benson Phillips

Joanne and Johan with Dave Benson PhillipsWe are on a wonderful Makaton journey which has led to us sharing our passion for Makaton within our local community. This journey began with our two wonderful staff members, Joanne and Johan, attending Makaton training and sharing their interest in further developing our children’s communication skills. They have led this journey; supporting our staff and families and sharing their enthusiasm.

We began using signs of the week, and staff quickly embraced signing and the enjoyment it brought to our establishment. We post our sign of the week and Makaton song of the month on our seesaw app and on our twitter page.

We have visuals and signs displayed all around our establishment as well as our sign of the week.

Families watch and learn the signs and join in together. The positive feedback we have gained from parents is huge. We observed in particular how beneficial signing with songs had on our children and the impact it had on all our children’s communication skills. The children started to spontaneously sign to one another, helping each other understand. We began sign along sessions with our parents, so the children could show how much they had learned and express the enjoyment it brings. Makaton strengthens the children’s communication, confidence and self-esteem.

Our sign along sessions have become a big family event. In September 2019 we received our Makaton Friendly award and quickly got to work on how we would like to celebrate. We invited Dave Benson Philips, and on the 12th December 2019 he spent the morning with us singing Christmas songs and watching all our fabulous children sign and sing. All of our families joined us in this event. Dave was amazing, energetic and expressed how much he enjoyed seeing all the signing the children were doing. Dave joined us for our Christmas family market, having some warm soup, and enjoyed chatting to staff and our families.
Pupils and staff with Dave Benson Phillips

The children are so proud of their achievements and love learning new signs and songs. Makaton is embedded within Castlemilk Family Learning Centre and we are very proud. We are now focusing on raising further awareness within our education sector and sharing our good practice.

We are delighted Makaton is being talked about and used in and around our community. This is because of all our staff children and families’ enthusiasm recognising the enjoyment and benefits signing have brought to our establishment.

As our Makaton Tutor Karen said, we are “riding a Makaton wave."

Author

Kelly Sloan

12th May 2020

At school