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.

International Awareness Day
12/07/2022

Makaton International Awareness Day

 

Makaton International Awareness Day logoWe are launching a Makaton International Awareness Day, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Makaton Language Programme, which will take place on Sunday 28th August. Get your flags at the ready, bake that cake and grab yourself a picnic as we are having Makaton inspired garden parties around the country to celebrate!

We would love you to take part by flying the Makaton flag with us and hosting your own garden or house party. We have been busy making free resources for you to download, to decorate and give your party some Makaton magic. Including Makaton bunting, cake wraps and flags.

We have chosen the 28th August to celebrate our wonderful Makaton community as it is the Makaton founder Margaret Walker’s birthday. Within the resources there is a very special ‘colour in’ flag postcard where you can write a birthday wish to Margaret Walker.

Click here to download Makaton International Awareness Day Resources

We also have a range of new items available from the shop, including T-Shirts, wristbands, flags, and button badges .

Take photos of your Makaton party and share on social media using the hashtags #MakatonAwareness #FlagsForMakaton

If you wish to fundraise alongside your party, we’ve created some fundraising ideas to get your imagination flowing as well as a sponsorship form located within the resources area.

Fundraising ideas A-Z

Sponsorship form

Donations can also be made online via https://makaton.enthuse.com/profile

 

Published

12th July 2022

News

NSPCC Talk PANTS with Makaton
30/06/2022

NSPCC Talk PANTS with Makaton

  
Launch at Watermill School

A school in Stoke hosted the launch of a new national resource it helped develop to help children with special educational needs to learn, understand and communicate about sexual abuse. NSPCC Talk PANTS with Makaton, launched at Watermill School on Thursday, June 23, features Pantosaurus, a friendly dinosaur, who uses age-appropriate language to help primary schoolchildren understand that their body belongs to them and to recognise when something is not okay and how to tell someone.

The new scheme will be the first time Pantosaurus has shared resources using Makaton, a unique language programme for people with disabilities that features symbols, signs and speech to help improve communication. The project has been developed by the NSPCC Together for Childhood Stoke partnership, Watermill School and The Makaton Charity, and will soon be shared across the UK.

Hannah with Pantosaurus

Brigitta Beckett, from Watermill School, said: “We’re really proud to be part of this project, as it will give children a voice in difficult situations, particularly those who have communication difficulties. “We got involved with the NSPCC Together for Childhood Stoke project several years ago, when Coventry University asked us to take part in some new research. The parents from our Watermill Parents Group became involved and discussed the challenges that lots of their children faced when communicating, especially around helping to keep them safe from sexual abuse. “It was during these discussions that the idea of NSPCC Talk PANTS with Makaton originated from and although it has taken some time, we are so excited that we can finally share the resources with everyone. We know that these resources will make a huge difference to so many children and we are really pleased that we have been part of such a fantastic project.”

Prompt cards

Since the PANTS campaign was launched, over 1.5 million parents have spoken to their children about the PANTS rules - . Rachel Wallace, NSPCC Local Campaigns Manager for the Midlands, said: “We’re delighted to be launching these new resources at Watermill School where the idea for these resources first came about. Once launched, anyone across the UK will be able to access these resources via our website. “Talk PANTS helps all children understand that their body belongs to them, and they should try to tell someone they trust if anything makes them feel upset or worried. Children with disabilities are three to four times more likely to be abused than those without disabilities, so helping children with a range of needs to talk PANTS is really important. “Children who use Makaton can now learn about the PANTS rules by watching a series of short films and they can continue the conversation with teachers and parents by using Makaton symbols and signs from our free downloads.”

The new free resources have been created in partnership with The Makaton Charity and include:

Six films – one for each of the five PANTS rules and a summary film
A guide for parents and carers
A children’s booklet
A prompt card pack which can be printed, laminated and cut into individual prompt cards

For more information, please visit nspcc.org.uk/pantsguides  to download the new resources and to watch the films.
Published

30th June 2022

News

Reds Achieve Makaton Friendly Status
29/06/2022

Reds Achieve Makaton Friendly Status

 

Mighty Red with Makaton Friendly certificate Liverpool FC’s Official Mascot Mighty Red and the LFC Foundation have become the first ever Mascot programme and Premier League Football Foundation to be awarded Makaton Friendly Status.

By joining the Makaton Friendly scheme, the Reds can make their services accessible to everyone, especially those who use Makaton to aid their communication. As Mighty Red is a non-verbal character the use of Makaton will support fan engagement on matchdays at Anfield and Prenton Park and during his non-matchday community appearances and Anfield Tours.

To get accredited by The Makaton Charity, Mighty Red and LFC Foundation completed the Makaton Training and were awarded silver status, the highest accreditation. This involved learning Core Vocabulary along with special sports associated words.

Rishi Jain, senior manager ED&I at LFC said: “We’re proud to achieve Makaton Friendly Silver status and recognised for making our club as inclusive and accessible as possible to every fan.  “This has been an important piece of work by both the foundation and the mascot team and one we are immensely proud of. Thanks to The Makaton Charity, we can now ensure that all of LFCF’s Kicks Inclusion, SEN, Mental Health sessions and Mighty Red appearances are inclusive to all of those who require the use of Makaton to aid communication.”

Hannah Anderson, Membership and Partnerships Director from The Makaton Charity, commented: "We are thrilled to award the Liverpool Football Club Mascot Mighty Red and the Liverpool Football Club Foundation with Makaton Friendly Silver status in recognition of enabling their staff to learn Makaton signs and symbols to support people with communication difficulties. “The Makaton Charity exists to ensure everyone living with learning or communication difficulties has the tools and resources they need to understand and be understood. The charity aims to ensure that as many people as possible have access to Makaton and initiatives such as the Makaton Friendly partnership programme are a key tool in making organisations and community spaces more accessible to Makaton users. “The scheme drives inclusivity to help create a fairer and more tolerant society for all. This ensures that the excellent work done by organisations such as Liverpool Football Club continues within the community so that all visitors feel welcome"

Head to Mighty Red’s Instagram to see how to sign You’ll Never Walk Alone, Hello My Name Is and I Love LFC in Makaton.

Find out more about Becoming a Makaton Friendly Partner

Published

27th June 2022

News

Win a Pantosaurus Goodie Bag!
29/06/2022

Win a Pantosaurus Goodie Bag!

Pantosaurus
The closing date for this competition was 16th July 2022.

To celebrate the launch of the NSPCC Talk PANTS with Makaton resources, we are giving you the chance to win a Pantosaurus goodie bag!

For a chance to win, head over to our Facebook page, post a comment directly on the post, with a video signing one of the PANTS rules.

Find out more about NSPCC Talk PANTS with Makaton

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_Pantosaurus_Goodie_Bag.aspx
  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 16th July 2022. 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: Post a comment directly on the Facebook post with a video signing one of the PANTS rules.
  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: Pantosaurus Goodie Bag.
  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

10th November 2021

News

Kirsty's Makaton Journey
29/06/2022

Kirsty's Makaton Journey

Kirsty with Level 3 certificateMy name is Kirsty. I have a learning disability and autism. 

I wanted to learn Makaton to help me communicate with people who I go to day services who use it and people who live in the same supported living flats that I live in. At one of my day activities I’ve started to communicate with a Makaton user and last week they gave me a really big hug to show they were happy with me signing to them.

I did Level 1, 2 and 3 with Nic Pike who runs relaxed sessions for people who have additional needs. This was perfect for me because it was spread over 8 weeks and I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it. I am planning on doing Level 4 with her later this year. I also joined her weekly club and met other people with disabilities like myself. It was nice we could all get together online. I also attend Singing Hands choir once a month which regularly refreshes my mind signing and singing

It’s really important to me that I can learn Makaton and communicate with people who use it. I go to day services and clubs that Makaton users attend and I want to be able to say hello to them. Or ask them their name. It's really important to me that I can talk to everyone who goes not just the people who can talk.

I joined the Makaton website and had a free membership at first. Then I got a free trial after I had done my level one training. I really liked it because I could look up symbols and signs I forgot and see them. You can see the pictures of the symbols and the pictures and videos of the signs. The videos are really helpful. I like the symbols and I have downloaded them to make easy read recipes for me to use at home. It’s nice when my friends come round and we use them to cook together.

I downloaded the Rainbow Bunting and signs sheet for Pride month as I am part of the LGBTQ+ community and it was really fantastic Makaton made resources for this. I have downloaded other resources as well to learn new words like the one of the summer signs and the advent calendar at Christmas. There is lots and lots on there that helps me learn and is also fun.

Kirsty signing the letter PWith the cost of living and all my bills going up I was worried about being able to continue to do Level 4 and have my membership to the Makaton library. There are lots of things on there which help and I want to do my Level 4 this year. One of the staff from the company who supports me is a Makaton Tutor and she found me a link through Mencap to apply for funding to use for either my level four or membership so I can continue to learn, attend sessions and access the resources. They helped me complete the application and I found out this week my application was successful and I have been given a grant. I didn’t know I could get anything like a grant or help for things like this. I feel very lucky and I wanted to share my story.

I am really happy I can continue my Makaton journey and be able to communicate with people who use it. I’m excited to do my Level 4 and keep using the library to check signs and download symbols to make my recipe collection bigger and bigger. And I am excited to see what more things like the Pride resources Makaton make in the future for me to download.

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

Kirsty S

29th June 2022

At home

Makaton Ambassador - A day in the life
27/06/2022

Makaton Ambassador - A day in the life

KerryIt is just over two years since the first cohort of Makaton Ambassadors were asked to become Ambassadors.

As Ambassadors we all undertake different tasks around different skills sets or areas of interest and knowledge. We have regular meetings online with senior management along with the Senior Tutors to discuss and update different matters. Being a Makaton Ambassador is a voluntary role and we all do our best to fit this around other family and work commitments.

There are many different duties and projects to work on as Ambassadors. Some of these over the past years have included:

  • Updating the Safeguarding Workshop and the Safeguarding Train the Trainer course for Tutors to attend
  • Supporting and mentoring the second cohort of Trainee Ambassadors
  • Supporting the wider Makaton Tutor, Trainer and community network through emails, telephone calls and monitoring MakaChat on the Hub
  • Trialling and developing different software programmes and providing feedback
  • Updating resources available to Trainers and Tutors regarding Makaton Signing for Babies and Families. Introducing a Makaton Trainer MakaChat area, network, study days and logo polo shirts
  • Supporting the Makaton Charity virtually and face to face with events such as study days and fundraising events
  • Sharing ideas of how to fill any gaps there may be in available resources and Makaton signs and symbols (and developing and producing the resources)
  • As a team we share ideas on how to raise the profiles of different schemes or areas of training and practise our signing and symbol knowledge together

There are so many different ways to support and move The Makaton Charity forward as a team and a community. The main barrier I have found is that there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to fit everything in! It is really exciting to see how The Makaton Charity is shaping and developing to become a sustainable service for the future whilst responding to the needs of our Makaton community and their environments. I for one am very proud to be part of that team to shape things.

Author

Kerry C

27th June 2022

At work

Vacancy: Finance Shared Services Assistant
27/06/2022

Vacancy: Finance Shared Services Assistant

Makaton symbol for Office Worker
The closing date for this vacancy was Monday 18th July 2022.

We are recruiting! A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a Finance Shared Services Assistant (full or part-time) to support our Finance team with excellent administrative and customer support. Key tasks include sales order checking and processing, daily sales processing, credit control and providing support to Makaton Tutors with orders, licencing, and renewals queries.

Interested candidates must have good analytical skills, and an excellent working knowledge of MS Office packages. A full or part AAT qualification is desirable but not essential and candidates must have an approachable, friendly, and professional manner.

For more details about the position and to get a full job description, please contact our HR Manager, sarah.parke@makaton.org.

This is ideally a full time (35 hours per week), permanent vacancy, but part-time options would be considered for the right candidate. Role based in Frimley, with hybrid working options available (after probationary period).

The closing date for applications is Monday 18th July 2022.

No agencies please.

See also: Work for us

Published

29th June 2022

News

Special iApps Collaboration
27/06/2022

Special iApps and Makaton Collaboration 

Special iApps logo

Special iApps and The Makaton Charity have been working closely to enable the Makaton Language Programme to be used as part of the Special iApps Membership.

Special iApps are pleased to offer a growing set of resources that include images of official Makaton symbols with corresponding text and audio. These are currently available to download and use in the Special Words Plus app, which is available as part of the Special iApps Membership.

To access the resources you must have a membership to both Special iApps and Makaton. Makaton symbol add-ons are currently provided for Special Words Plus only. These resources are grouped according to your Makaton Membership level and the ones that you can access therefore depend on your current membership level. Free and Standard resources are now available, Premium resources are coming soon.

Using these resources in Special Words Plus is a great way to learn and reinforce sign-based communication, as well as encouraging speech and other skills.

To view and use Makaton resources in Special Words Plus you need to login to your Makaton Membership account and copy your iMIS ID number, you'll be required to enter this into your Special iApps account and will link your two accounts together. Once linked the Makaton vocabulary will remain available to use within Special Words Plus. You are required to have both a valid Special iApps Membership as well as valid Makaton Membership to use the apps together.

To celebrate the launch of this new partnership, Special iApps are offering a 50% discount to Makaton Members until July 31st. Please visit https://www.specialiapps.org/en/subscribe-special-iapps and apply the discount code MAKATONJUL50 which will give you 50% off your first years’ membership to Special iApps.

(Discounted rates: 1 device membership usually costs £50, but is £25 for Makaton Members. 3 device membership usually costs £100, but is £50 Makaton Members)

Published

27th June 2022

News

Makaton is for everyone
10/05/2022

Makaton is for everyone

Abigail

AbigailMy name is Abigail and am 27 years old. I was diagnosed with learning disabilities and other medical issues.

My Makaton journey started back in January 2022 when I started to become interested in learning Makaton. I have learnt over 100 or more signs so far, and I am doing absolutely incredibly at it! This has continued through watching Singing Hands DVDs too, which has been amazing: hopefully by the end of 2022 this continues throughout the coming months and years.

I can’t believe how well I am doing as an adult with disabilities. Makaton has become my absolute favourite thing do.

This journey is going to be incredible, Makaton is for everyone not just those with a speech delay. If you want to learn something new, try Makaton; it has made a difference in my life and especially the people around me.

Thank you

Love Abigail xxx

Author

Abigail

20th April 2022

At home

Makaton at Alton Towers
09/05/2022

Makaton at Alton Towers

Claire, Brooklyn and Bella at Alton Towers
Claire, Brooklyn and Bella at Alton Towers

How important is Makaton as part of your family day out?

Claire, Brooklyn and Bella share their day at Alton Towers – March 2022

Planning a day out for the family can be very daunting at times even for families who don’t have to factor in a child with additional needs. Most families just take into account what will make everyone happy and if you have children of different ages this can be very difficult even at the best of times.

Thing I have to think about even before I've left the house include things like Parking. Will there be disabled bays? Even trying to navigate through a car park safely can be stressful, with bags, a disability pushchair, excited children to control. So parking as close as you can from moving vehicles just to keep your children safe is a big factor especially if they have no understanding of danger. Also trying to find a venue with plenty of accessible toilets can also be the deciding factor whether you go or not. There needs to be plenty of room, just the right lighting, changing facilities and appropriate hand dryers. The majority of places don't even think about this, but I can tell you from experience my daughter could be desperate for the toilet but if she hears the new powerful loud hand dryers before we've even stepped into it she cannot even enter the room. Her hands clasp over her ears like she's in pain and she cries. Then I have to think about food. What's available, hot/cold, whether we can eat inside or have to sit outside. Will it have loud music playing, will I be able to manoeuvre around the tables, will the queue be too long when ordering. I've had to walk out of many a place before today as so many triggers have caused a meltdown. So, with all this to plan in the trip all I have to do is find an inclusive venue to entertain ALL the family that ticks all the right boxes.

BellaWell, I found it Alton Towers! Not only does it entertain from very young ages but through to emerging dare devil's and those crazy thrill seekers! I can finally relax here and go at our own pace, because it is that diverse you can pick and choose exactly what you want your day to look like and let's face it any parent/carer with children /adults with additional needs to be able to retreat at some point in the day. But what makes Alton Towers even more special is that the staff can communicate with my daughter. Something that I have never considered planning into the day before as nowhere else has offered this to us before! Unbelievable isn't it!

Brooklyn & Bella

My daughter is a Makaton user and uses sign to communicate. Bella was born with Down Syndrome and has global development delay. People will ask me what's she saying? As they struggle to understand her. And I have to usually answer for her. So, to watch her have a conversation with the staff is amazing and well for Bella it's everything. You can see how happy she is. Alton Towers have just opened up doors and made a good day even better with the help from Makaton Tutor Amanda Glennon. With just a few basic signs they were able to ask her how she was, was she having a good day, did she like Peter Rabbit and sign back. I am so grateful to them for acknowledging and accepting we are all different and for them learning how to sign. You see it's not about my daughter fitting in society, its about society understanding we are all unique and educating yourself firstly so you can support others.

Brooklyn, Bellas sister has been using Makaton for about 6 years now. Both the girls love to sing and sign. So, to walk around Alton Towers and be greeted in sign and have symbols you can follow it just feels very inclusive. All the family can interact with entertainers, shop staff, guest services. I think they can all use Makaton so it just brings down that barrier of them and you because they can continue to talk with the use of Makaton to support the conversation. Simply the icing on the cake.

Kate McBirnie

Kate McBirnie, head of guest excellence at Alton Towers Resort said: "We want our teams to be able to engage and communicate on all levels. Equipping frontline teams with these skills will help guests feel more included in experiences at the park, particularly young guests visiting CBeebies Land and the CBeebies Hotel”

Amanda Glennon with Alton Towers staff

 

Makaton Ambassador Amanda Glennon said, “Alton Towers Resort continues to understand the importance of using Makaton in communication and they continues to strive to make their attractions as accessible and inclusive as possible. The entertainments team are front and centre of communication with guests and this training helps them understand Makaton and really get confident with their enhanced communication skills.”



Makaton Friendly places have invested in their staff and premises to meet key criteria and improve accessibility for anyone living with learning or communication difficulties. Click here to visit our Makaton Friendly Map to find Makaton Friendly places near to you.
Author

Claire

13th April 2022

Out and about

Trusted Travel Buddies
09/05/2022

Trusted Travel Buddies

Anna at Trusted Travel Buddies completed Makaton training in 2021, having launched the company in 2019. Anna decided to learn Makaton to better enhance the communication of the adults she supports on their chosen holidays.

I first heard about Makaton when I was supporting an adult with learning disabilities who uses Makaton as her preferred method of communication. Shelly was the driving force for me to learn Makaton to better enhance our communication.

In 2021 I completed Levels 1-4 of Makaton. I found the training enjoyable. Special Thanks must go to Hannah Williams Makaton who truly excels at her profession as a Makaton Tutor. Her passion and enthusiasm shines through making the training upbeat and fun.

Trusted Travel Buddies offers bespoke tailormade holidays to adults with additional support needs. Launched in Dec 2019, despite the Pandemic we are delighted to have supported 24 adults away on their chosen holidays. Now that restrictions are hopefully beginning to ease, we are looking forward to a busy summer in 2022 supporting adults with learning disabilities to really live their finest lives.

Trusted Travel Buddies is delighted to be the first business in the Highlands to have been awarded Makaton Friendly Status. Hip hip horray! I would highly recommend adults and businesses to explore the joy of learning Makaton so they can allow Makaton Users to feel welcomed, respected and valued.

Find out more about Becoming a Makaton Friendly Partner

Author

Anna M

25th April 2022

Out and about

Makaton Signing for Babies and Families
09/05/2022

Makaton Signing for Babies and Families

A mother reading and signing to her young son, who is sitting on her lap

A mother reading and signing to her young son, who is sitting on her lapMakaton Signing for Babies and Families (MSBF) is for parents, family members or carers who would like to sign with babies and children in their care and have no previous experience of Makaton. These 6 sessions are designed for you and your child to have fun and learn together. 

The sessions are designed to encourage the development of communication and language skills in babies and toddlers. All the sessions are fun and interactive for you and your child. You will learn approximately 100 Makaton signs and symbols using songs, games and activities.

How can I teach this within my community?

You can become an MSBF Trainer and deliver Makaton Signing for Babies and Families to parents, carers and Early Years Professionals and the children in their care.

As a Makaton Trainer, you can now maximise your income by offering freelance training services. Build your own business, on your own terms, at a pace that you decide. Your MSBF sessions can be advertised on the Makaton website.

A young girl signingThe MSBF Train the Trainer Course focuses on information giving, signing and activities. It also includes sessions on the delivery of Makaton Signing for Babies and Families , paying particular attention to the format and presentation of sessions, to encourage learning while having fun.

It’s a one day course where you will be required to deliver a session from the Makaton Signing for Babies and Families course.

Prior to applying to become a Makaton Signing for Babies and Families Trainer, you must have attended the following workshops within the last 5 years.

  • Makaton Signing for Babies and Families Sessions
  • Level 1 and 2 Workshops

To find MSBF courses and MSBF Train the Trainer courses you can search all available workshops here

Published

25th April 2022

News

Pixie's Makaton journey
09/05/2022

Pixie's Makaton Journey

Pixie with her son

Pixie has been using Makaton since 2007, at first attending workshops and using resources on the website. She has then worked through the Makaton Workshops to become a Makaton Signing for Babies and Families Trainer and recently trained to become a Makaton Tutor. Pixie embraces Makaton into her family and work life, enthusiastically encouraging others to the benefits of using Makaton to support.

Pixie with her son

I first heard about Makaton in a training newsletter from my local council back in 2007. I then completed my first Makaton Workshop when I was working in a pre-school. The other courses I found using your fabulous website, until I met a wonderful tutor Marina Horrocks who really went “above and beyond” in her ongoing support with my training and Makaton use. Marina took me through everything from my Level 3 upwards and wrote my recommendation letter from Tutor Training. I literally couldn’t have got this far without her and will be forever grateful to her for all of her help and support.

On my Tutor Training it was a real pleasure being trained by Tracy Clark and Sarah Howard, and having such a supportive group of fellow trainees! Since then I’ve had the opportunity and felt really privileged to join Zanna Finnerty, Amanda Glennon and Kerry Crawley on Makaton Signing for Babies and Families Study Days, which has been so beneficial for my CPD. They were great fun and I would highly recommend them to other MSB (MSBF) trainers.

I am very eagerly awaiting the Train the Trainer Course for the revised Using Makaton with Singing to enable me to teach this one as a Tutor too. Singing is a huge part of our family and work life here and Singing Hands play a massive role in that – thank you Suzanne and Tracy! As well as being a Makaton Tutor we also use Makaton at home as a family and at work in my Makaton Friendly Early Years setting. My son was born prematurely and having me as a Mummy he was immediately welcomed into a world of Makaton all day, every day, even when the other children I was caring for went home. He first signed “please” at 6 months old when he wanted some pudding! And now at two, he is able to put several signs together and has a huge repertoire of signs. His understanding is phenomenal for his age and I credit this to Makaton signing, as it enabled him to grasp concepts and prepositional language much earlier.

Watching Singing HandsWe use signs in general conversation consistently all day. We have taught lots of signs to Daddy, and Grandma is working through her Makaton Signing for Babies and Families course. We also use signs and symbols at story times, singing times, to make choices (particularly at snack and mealtimes) as well as in games and activities. We attend the lovely Tracy’s Singing Hands class on a Wednesday which is just fantastic and my son loves watching their DVD’s and videos on YouTube, they are literal celebrities in our house!

My lovely husband is in the military and, unfortunately, spends a great deal of time away from us. However, Makaton has been an absolute Godsend during these times too. Sometimes, he his completely unreachable, but when he has Wi-Fi we are able to show him new signs and hold two way conversations. When he was younger, it meant my little one was able to use sign to communicate to Daddy, when he had no speech at all, and that was something truly magical to observe. It enabled them to maintain their wonderful relationship even though they were thousands of miles apart.

Makaton has a huge impact on early communication. With 18 years of Early Years experience and a degree in Children’s Learning, Development and Support myself, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be without it. It works absolute wonders in easing frustrations, gives children a voice from so early on and has had such a massive impact on my own child’s levels of understanding. I cannot recommend Makaton highly enough. I would love to get every Early Years setting using it daily and recognising it’s tremendous benefits on children’s early language and communication skills.

If you are thinking about attending Makaton Training I would say absolutely go for it, you will not be disappointed. You cannot put a price on giving someone a voice. Please do remember though that, just like speech, it takes time for users to establish and to persevere with it so don’t give up! Once your user finds their voice with Makaton it will all be worth it.

Author

Pixie N

20th April 2022

At home

Makaton Safeguarding
28/02/2022

Makaton Approaches to Safeguarding

Richard signing Makaton for health, wellbeing, relationships and more...

Join us on our first online Safeguarding Workshop, delivered over Zoom on 9th and 16th May from 9am to 5pm by Makaton Ambassador Tutor Richard Fish. Cost is £189 per participant.

The Makaton Safeguarding workshop is designed to support anyone who cares for or works with children and adults with learning and communication difficulties.

Participants must have previously completed Makaton Level 1 and 2 or equivalent.

Click here to search for a Level 1 and/or Level 2 

The workshop is about safeguarding all people with additional communication needs, focusing on topics such as health, wellbeing, hygiene and relationships. The workshop looks at Makaton Users in a person-centred way, to develop their communication skills, make choices, understand what is happening and to meet their needs as effectively as possible. On the workshop you will learn 300 signs and symbols covering the following topics:

  • People (family, relationships and people around us)
  • Body parts
  • Clothing Places
  • Time concepts
  • Feelings, thoughts and behaviours
  • Bullying and abuse Intimate matters

You will receive a Participant’s Manual which includes the signs and symbols that you have learned and you will also be given a certificate of attendance.

Participants go away with ideas and solutions and in turn this has a big impact on young people and adults with communication difficulties, creating an accessible communication environment which empowers Makaton Users to thrive, be safe and engage fully with the world around them.

“An increasingly important and functional course, taught and discussed in a thought-provoking manner. This course has provided me with the tools to support understanding and expression of specific anatomy and actions which are all part of growing up and keeping safe.”

Bethany Whitelam, Speech and Language Therapist, Norwich

“As a parent of a primary school aged daughter attending the Safeguarding Workshop has provided me with lots of useful vocabulary. The workshop offered space for reflection on how I might start to help my daughter express and understand thoughts, feelings and emotions, incredibly useful for being prepared to adapt to her needs in the future.“
Hannah, parent from Lincoln

Book your place today!

Published

28th February 2022

News

Singing Hands awarded MBEs
28/02/2022

Singing Hands awarded MBEs

Singing Hands with their MBEs at Windsor Castle

Singing Hands with MBEsThe Makaton Charity are delighted to congratulate our Patrons, Suzanne Miell-Ingram and Tracy Upton for their MBE Investiture at Windsor Castle in February. They even managed to teach Prince Charles some Makaton in the process! Suzanne shares their experience...

On New Years’ Day 2021 the two of us discovered that we’d been awarded MBEs in the Queen’s New Years’ Honours List for Services to Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. It was such a surprise and an overwhelmingly positive piece of news after a challenging year under Covid. We were thrilled at being acknowledged for our work over the years spreading awareness about the benefits of using Makaton through songs, stories and games.

It remained a total mystery how the award came about – but in the ensuing weeks our office manager could no longer contain the secret that she’d known about for such a long time. She finally spilled the beans that we’d been nominated by a family who we’d worked with at Great Ormond Street Hospital. The family had contacted Brenda (our office manager) to put them in touch with other Singing Hands families who in turn would contribute numerous supporting letters of recommendation for the application. How everyone kept this secret was baffling as the application and approval process took a full two years.

Singing Hands with MBEs

Obviously, as soon as we found out in January we went straight online and ordered our red outfits, new shoes and fascinators figuring we should stay ‘on brand’ in terms of colour for our ceremony.

The family who nominated us have an amazing little daughter with Down Syndrome and at the time we first met her she was being treated for a rare form of cancer. We visited her every week for months and months in her isolation room and sang and signed with her and her Mummy and Daddy. Despite being so poorly, she was such keen learner – she absorbed everything we taught her and became the most fantastic little signer. Her rendition of the Pirate song was something to behold. If any of you saw our Facebook Post in December 2021, you’ll have seen her signing the Singing Hands version of Boney M’s ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ on stage at her school talent show. Needless to say – she won!

Fast forward to Spring 2022 we finally get sent the date of our investiture – 1st February 2022 at Windsor Castle.

It was such an incredible day. We arrived at the castle in the most beautiful Spring sunshine after a super early start to get our hair & make up done. We were allowed one guest each. I took my daughter Ella and Tracy took her partner Alistair.

Suzanne and Tracy signing with Prince Charles

It was amazing inside the castle – there was lots of pomp and ceremony with numerous staff in various regimental uniforms and all the guests were in their finery. During the morning, we were led through various state rooms till we came to the main hall for the presentation. We were coached by one of the staff how to approach, address and curtsey to Prince Charles.

We were allowed to go up together (apparently this is very rare) and we were presented with our MBEs by Prince Charles. We curtseyed and signed good morning, he asked us various questions about what we do, how we met, and then we each taught him our favourite signs. As many of you know Tracy’s favourite sign is TERRAPIN and mine is SNAIL. Although these are not going to be terribly useful signs for him at least they will be memorable. We both then signed thank you at the end too. Who knows, maybe he will go and teach these signs to his grandchildren?

After the ceremony, we had official photographs in St George’s Hall (the Gallery which has been completely restored after fire back in 1992). After a bit of time to relax at home in the afternoon, we completed the day with a celebratory dinner in the evening with the rest of our family. It was the perfect end to a fantastic day.

On a final note – although this day was incredible for the two of us, we cannot take the whole credit. We wouldn’t have been at Windsor Castle to collect MBEs, there would be no Singing Hands and Tracy and I wouldn’t have even met had our children Miles and Ella not come into our lives. Because of them, Tracy and I met at a Special Needs Support group in 2000 and that’s how it all began. Their need as little babies and toddlers to learn Makaton through child-centred activities like songs and stories inspired us to set up Singing Hands. They continue to inspire everything we do 22 years later.

With huge thanks to all the Singing Hands families who supported this MBE nomination, for the support of the Makaton Charity over the years and for all the many other families who continue to support everything we do. Thank you!

Suzanne Miell-Ingram MBE

Click here to check out the Singing Hands website

Published

28th February 2022

News

My MakaHike experience
27/02/2022

My MakaHike Experience

In September 2021 I took part in The Makaton Charity’s MakaHike, Snowdon. This was an activity that was totally out of my comfort zone for so many reasons. Travelling from the Isle of Wight to Wales was a first in itself, regardless of the fact that I hadn’t met any of the participants before. 

In May 2021 I completed my Tutor Training and had passed a week before the Snowdon MakaHike. I had come across different Tutors and names from the ‘Makaton World’ throughout my journey, as well as friends that I had made during my Tutor Training course. To meet these people in ‘real life’ was a moment of success for me and a real ‘I have done this’ moment.

I remember the final car journey towards Snowdon on the morning of the hike and the realisation of how big mountains actually were – we have high hills on the IOW, but not real mountains! The adrenaline was pumping, and I was anxious and excited at the same time. Once I arrived, everyone was incredibly friendly, and I instantly felt safe and welcomed.

Everyone was an equal throughout the whole day, no one was made to feel different or unwelcomed. As we walked up Snowdon, we quickly got to know the people in our groups and hear all about their personal Makaton journey’s. It was very inspiring, and the love of Makaton shone out from us all.

When we arrived at the top feeling very wet, tired, and windswept there was an enormous feeling of family. A family who had conquered a big obstacle together for the same reason. Signing and singing the song together at the top of Mount Snowdon is one of my most precious moments and greatest achievements.

Completing this challenge has impacted the wider parts of my life – the 5 and 6 year olds that I teach at school were inspired and interested in my adventure. This opened up numerous opportunities for them such as writing, create maps, looking at mountains and learning the song with me!

This experience has made me realise that I can do anything I set my mind to, no matter how challenging it may be. It has given me confidence and made me now stand tall in situations that I would have felt inadequate in. It has given me opportunities to meet new friends and learn new skills. It has developed my love for Makaton even more (I didn’t think that was possible!), and it has given me an indescribable feeling that will last forever.

We hadn’t even got to the top when we were already talking about the next MakaHike. Travelling that far and climbing up a mountain with a group of people I did not know is something I would never have done. It has changed my life and I am so proud and thankful that I have been a part of this. Ben Nevis is going to be a hard challenge, but one I know that will be achieved by anyone who participates. With the right people around you and an open mind, anything is possible.

Would you like to take on the MakaHike 2022? Click here to find out more

Jess M
27th February 2022

Out and about

March Madness
26/02/2022

March Madness

SALE: 20% off a wide variety of resources

The March Madness sale ended on 31st March 2022.

March Madness is back and better than ever, with 20% savings on a wide range of Makaton resources until Thursday 31st March 2022.

Simply go to the shop, add one or more resources into your shopping cart, go to the checkout, type the code MM20 in to the promotional code field, and click Apply to get 20% off all eligible products*

 

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

*Tutor manuals and guidelines are not included in the sale

Published
1st March 2021

News

Exciting Trustee opportunities
21/03/2022

Exciting Trustee opportunities

Makaton trainees signing at a workshop

The closing date for these vacancies was 18th March 2022.

Do you have passion, interest, and enthusiasm for making a real difference… we could have the perfect opportunity for you! The Makaton Charity is seeking two new Trustees to expand our reach within health and education sectors, help grow our digital membership and to reflect a more diverse set of stakeholders.

The Makaton Charity

Makaton is a language programme that combines signs, symbols, and speech to empower anyone living with learning or communication difficulties to understand and be understood. Makaton has brought positive transformation to millions of lives. 

The board of Trustees is responsible for determining and overseeing the strategic direction of the Charity. The Chief Executive and management team is responsible for implementing the strategy within budget and timetable, and thus meeting the needs of the language programme, Tutors and end Users, now and in the future.

Who we need

We are seeking two new Trustees to us develop and grow our reach, bringing current knowledge and experience through either of the following:

  • Health (NHS), social care and/or education sectors. This may be through having a leadership or policy role in a provider setting.
  • Expertise in membership and community schemes. Bringing knowledge and experience of successfully scaling up digitally enabled and subscription-based membership communities and schemes.  

If successful, appointed Trustees will offering advice, guidance, and challenge to the evolution of our strategy, contribute fresh views to decision making, and champion our ambition to support and reflect a more diverse set of members and beneficiaries.

The commitment

To play a full role as a charity Trustee you must be committed to 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

How do I apply?

If you are interested in becoming a Trustee for The Makaton Charity, please click here to download full role specification

 

The closing date for these vacancies was 18th March 2022.

Published

15th February 2022

News

My Makaton mission
14/02/2022

My Makaton Mission

Leanne

I first began my Makaton Journey back in 2012, and now I am a Makaton Tutor and a Training Administrator for the Charity. What a journey it has been!

So, why Makaton? I have always been inspired by Makaton users, to know that I could be a small part of an ever-growing team, that supports over 100,000 children and adults to use Makaton as either their main method of communication, or to support speech, is a privilege.

After completing the Foundation and Enhancement workshops with a supportive Tutor, I took my newfound skills and motivation back with me to the education setting where I worked. There, I began implementing a whole school approach to using Makaton, with signs and symbols to promote inclusion and give consistency for the learners in their chosen form of communication.

After working in education for a number of years, and using Makaton in several different settings around the United Kingdom, to see the invaluable impact that the Makaton Language Programme has to break down extrinsic communication barriers for so many and give people a voice was so rewarding. As it is to witness the diversity of lives for those who use Makaton, including those with English as an Additional Language and those with poor literacy skills, transform.

In the classroom, the benefits of using Makaton were clear. Makaton can support all its users across different establishments, incorporating it into everyday life for children, young people, and adults, due to its flexible, multimodal approach, which can be adapted to suit all learning styles in a fun and interactive way. These positive and life changing experiences for others motivated me to become a Makaton Tutor.

In 2020, during lockdown, through the online training platform I retrained and completed Level 1-4 Makaton workshops, to ensure that once I started on my Tutor training journey that my knowledge of the Makaton Language programme was the best it could be.

As a Tutor, I thoroughly enjoy meeting and working with people, from all backgrounds, who have many different reasons for wanting to learn Makaton, The Makaton Charity, and other Tutors. From supporting people on the first step of their Makaton journey, then continuous support to guide them through the levels, and some who leave training and progress on to become Tutors. For me, representing the Charity and being a Makaton Tutor is such a privilege.

To be able to support Makaton users and other passionate individuals with their training, and hearing inspiring stories from past participants, made me want to immerse myself further in supporting The Makaton Charity, which led me to become a training administrator. A common factor that I have seen across the Makaton family is that everyone works so hard and strives to uphold the core values to improve the lives of those who use Makaton by enabling everyone to successfully communicate in a way that is appropriate and effective for them. Being a part of the Makaton family makes me proud every day.

Leanne's top tip

A great way of incorporating Makaton symbols for some users into a pre-planned teaching activity, is to draw the symbol that you are focusing on into sand or shaving foam. This is a fun way to engage with symbols, while signing the concept and developing fine motor skills.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a Makaton Tutor, please visit How can I teach Makaton 

 

Author
Leanne Hipkiss           

14th February 2022

At work

Sam's Tutor Training Journey
14/02/2022

Sam's Tutor Training Journey 

Sam demonstrating the sign for time

Hello, my name is Sam, and I am a Makaton Tutor from London via Scotland. I am originally from Aberdeenshire in Scotland, but I live in London now. I recently got my licence as a Makaton Tutor, and wanted to share my journey to this point.

After I left school, quite a few years ago, I began my professional training in contemporary dance and classical ballet at the Scottish School of Contemporary Dance, Dundee, and went on to complete my studies in Musical Theatre at TTC, Essex.

Since graduating I have been super lucky to have worked around the world performing: it’s my absolute passion. But, parallel to a performing career, I have worked as a consultant in development and producing roles in creative learning, education, and health and wellbeing.

In 2017, I switched gears a little and found the path I really wanted to go down. I found interest in learning and development for children and adults who have severe or complex needs, adverse childhood experiences and trauma. It was through this interest, while back in Scotland for a few years, that I got to really focus on working in this sector.

I started teaching some dance classes in additional support needs schools, just a few hours a week, which quickly turned into a full-time job. Five years later and now I work as a specialist consultant with various organisations. I have worked on creative programmes with local authorities working specifically in SEN/D settings to support students with their learning, and health and well-being. I also support staff with training and implementing the skills I have learned and developed over the years, into their practise, and helping to make the organisations more diverse and inclusive.

Sam performing

Makaton has been a real thread throughout all my work.

I was recently awarded funding from Aberdeen City Council Creative Learning and Creative Scotland to run a project called ‘Singing the Signs; A Community in Harmony’. Students worked through a programme using different ways of communication, such as sign language, song, spoken word, music, and dance.

The end goal is to achieve the ‘Makaton Friendly Award’ with my nominated participating school/host Skene Square Primary in the centre of Aberdeen. This award, on certification, will demonstrate that the young people have created a safe and welcoming environment for those who use Makaton as a communication aid. Participating young people will obtain a new awareness of communication, methodology of creating a fair community and enrich their youthful caring spirit while grasping a unique understanding of the world around them. Five members of the teaching team have completed the Level 1 Makaton Workshop and the rest of the staff have completed the Makaton Taster session.

Now it was time to think about Makaton Tutor Training…

This was something I had been working towards since I was first introduced to Makaton back in 2017. I completed my Level 1 and 2 back in 2018, but before I could sign up to the Tutor Training, I needed to complete my Level 3 and 4. But, I had some personal obstacles to overcome before I could think about this.

In the summer of 2020, I was in an accident and as a result I broke quite a lot of bones. My spine, both feet, ribs and both my wrists in two places. While I recovered in hospital, I was concerned that my future with Makaton would be over. The injuries in my wrists were so severe that I couldn’t use them for weeks. I had to learn how to write again, hold objects – it was tough. But after some time, I could see that I’d be able to get at least 70% function back.

Sam signing

I have lost rotation in my hands which makes some signing difficult, cheese is a hard sign for me, but I am so happy I can do most things now.

I would sit, as part of my rehabilitation mentally and physically, and listen to music and sign along. At first, it was terrible, I couldn’t do any of it, but I kept pushing. My song of choice was ‘Greatest Day’ by Take That. It was a song I had sung with students at Orchard Brae School in Aberdeen for many years, so it brought some happy memories into what was a rather miserable situation.

The benefit of doing this helped me to see a future and made the long days go past a little quicker. It was here that I really understood the joy that Makaton brings into people’s lives. Of course, I have loved adding Makaton into my practise, but it was a part of my job, something I needed to achieve my goals as a practitioner. I never looked at it from a participant’s point of view. Now, more than ever, I appreciate Makaton across the board – and fully relate to the love that participants show it.

I completed my Level 3 and 4 during my time in recovery. I signed up to do these workshops with Ambassador Tutor, Amanda Glennon. Since then, Amanda has been an absolute dream supporting me with my studies, writing my reference letter for my tutor training, and always being on hand to support me personally and professionally. I thoroughly enjoyed the Tutor training. It was all online and I was super lucky to have such a fantastic group of Tutor trainees on the call, alongside our tutors Tracy and Sarah, who took us through the whole programme.

I was a little nervous going into the training as I knew there was a lot to learn, but the week is carefully planned out and a great level of support is always provided. Of course, it was challenging and hard at times, but it was so worth it. I am excited to now be part of the Tutor network, and can’t wait to see where my career progresses with Makaton.

Check out Sam's social media: Instagram / Facebook / YouTube

If you would like to find out more about becoming a Makaton Tutor, please visit How can I teach Makaton 

Author
Sam Stephen 

14th February 2022

At work

Everyone has the right to communicate
14/02/2022

Everyone has the right to communicate

Karen Baxter
Karen thumbs up

I have a long history with Makaton, first encountering it as a student around 1984. Working as a primary and then SEN teacher, I used Makaton on a daily basis for the last 20 years of my teaching career.

Having seen the impact it had on the communication skills and confidence of young people, I promoted its use in my final role as the headteacher of a local special school. We also had a successful signing choir made up of pupils and staff from across the school, and even made it to the final of a local choir competition.

My training was outdated, so I completed Levels 1 to 4 in 2020, before taking part in Tutor training in May 2020. I have attended Makaton Signing for Babies, Makaton with Singing, and the Safeguarding Workshop, and I am hoping to become a Safeguarding Trainer this year.

All of the training has been of high quality, and focuses on such a wide range of needs through the breadth of the workshops. The Tutor training also enabled me to make positive contacts within the Makaton community, and through our very supportive Tutor trainee group.

I made the difficult decision to leave education in 2020 to gain a better work-life balance, and to pursue my interests in singing and Makaton. I am completing a course in song therapy, as well as having trained as a Makaton Tutor. I now deliver Makaton workshops, so far online, but hopefully these will become face-to-face soon.

It is exciting to be able to share my enthusiasm for Makaton with others. There are no other tutors in my area and I am very keen to raise the profile of Makaton locally.

To combine my two passions of singing and Makaton, I run online song and sign groups, and am planning to deliver face-to-face song and sign sessions soon. I also make videos for my Makaton Tutor YouTube channel and enjoy the challenge of translating songs into Makaton, and sharing these with others.

Makaton has made a huge difference to the lives of many young people I have worked with, and this was why I wanted to become a Tutor.

I have also found that Makaton has been a powerful tool for emotional support, especially during the pandemic. During the first Covid lockdown, my school used videos, often featuring Makaton signing, as one way of keeping in touch with our families. These had a strong effect on families and staff morale at a difficult time. As well as developing confidence and fluency through signing songs, in my song and sign groups we have been able to use Makaton as a way of keeping in touch during Covid restrictions. The combination of song and signing supports wellbeing, as we focus on songs with a positive message such as friendship and resilience.

Everyone has the right to be able to communicate. You can be part of this. Look on the Makaton Hub and contact your local Tutor.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a Makaton Tutor, please visit How can I teach Makaton 

Author
Karen Baxter 

14th February 2022

At work

Easter Egg Hunt
01/02/2022

Easter Egg Hunt

How many Easter Eggs can you find on the Makaton website?

The Easter Egg hunt has finished. See you next year!

 

How many Easter Eggs can you find on the Makaton website?There are Easter Eggs hidden all over our website!

Search through the pages to see if you can spot them.

Let us know on social media how many you can find.

Published

11th April 2022

News

Makaton Moments
28/01/2022

Makaton Moments

Two boys, with arms around each other, signing OK
Published

28th January 2022

News

Work for us
27/01/2022

Work for us

Makaton symbol for Office Worker

The closing date for this vacancy was 18th February 2022

We are recruiting! A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a Membership Engagement Officer to support our Makaton membership team with engagement and retention, via connecting with our members.

The key focus of the position will be on generating engaging content within the MakaChat eCommunity and understanding what members needs are through questioning and working with our Ambassador network.

We are looking for a candidate who has good copy writing and proof-reading abilities and will help to plan and manage member events, as well as monitor member feedback and help generate ideas and leads for content. Candidates will be collaborating extensively with our network so must be interested in engaging with and understanding disabilities as well as the wider Makaton user community.

Key skills include excellent problem-solving abilities, an understanding of how to interpret data, flexibility, and a willingness to work with many different groups of people.

For more details about the position and to get a full job description, please contact sarah.parke@makaton.org.

The closing date for this vacancy was 18th February 2022, with a start date as early as possible after 28th February. This is a 6 month, FTC for 21 hours per week (preferably over 3 full days).

See also: Working for us

Published

27th January 2022

News

Bloom Baby Classes
23/01/2022

Bloom Baby Classes

Bloom logo

As baby, toddler and pre-school community groups return to their new normal, we are very excited to tell you that Bloom Baby Classes have made a commitment for their whole network to achieve Makaton Friendly Status!

Bloom Baby Classes run sensory classes for babies across the UK. Classes support parents by teaching baby play activities that can be replicated at home to support overall development. Now all class leaders make their language visual by using signs and symbols in their classes.

What was the motivation?

Jennifer Ellison, Makaton Tutor and Speech and Language Therapist, has seen how Makaton can open up communication for all children with a range of language needs. As a parent, she has seen Makaton build on language from an age far earlier than expected. Jennifer runs preschool language enrichment sessions with an aim to reach as many families as she can to unlock communication. Her ‘Little Talkers’ sessions consider the social model of disability and aim to help families to recognise the barriers that make life harder for people with communication difficulties.

By using Makaton with lots of families, she hopes that all children will continue to use signs and symbols alongside their speech as they become school-aged. Thus helping those children who rely on Makaton in their everyday talking. By removing these barriers, she aims to create equality and ultimately offer those who are experiencing communication difficulties more independence, choice and control.

How did it all start with Bloom Baby Classes?

During lockdown, Victoria Jennings (Founder of Bloom Baby Classes) set up a ‘Bloom Wellbeing’ parents group on Facebook. The aim of this group was to create a safe space for parents who were stuck at home to seek advice and share information to help support their developing babies. Victoria coordinated sessions from a range of professionals to share information with parents through motivating posts and videos.

Jennifer’s passion to offer Makaton to the wider community was noticed within the group, as she volunteered to run fun, weekly ‘Makaton Monday’ speech and language sessions for the Bloom Wellbeing families. From this, the Bloom love for Makaton took off, and a plan was put together to train all Bloom Baby Class network leaders in all of their locations across the UK!

What to look out for

Bloom class leaders are now using the Makaton Language Programme in many ways! You can look out for them signing:

  • Makaton sign of the week
  • Weekly focus topics
  • Greetings in class
  • Now/next instructions between sensory activities
  • Weekly songs linking to their topics

You can look out for symbol use within:

  • Identification of areas within class e.g. buggy park, shoe space, toilets etc
  • Class timeline of activities
  • Weekly topic board

For more information search for us on social media:

  • Little Talkers Baby/Toddler Signing Club – Jennifer Ellison
  • Bloom Baby Classes – Victoria Jennings
  • Or visit www.bloombabyclasses.com

Jennifer Ellison
23rd January 2022

Out and about

MakaHike 2022
15/01/2022

MakaHike 2022

MakaHike - We're going to Ben Nevis -Saturday 10th September 20222022 -

Are you looking for a new challenge for 2022?

After the success of the MakaHike 2021, this year we will be taking on Ben Nevis for the MakaHike 2022!

In September 2021, a group of intrepid MakaHikers climbed to the summit of Mount Snowdon in Wales and raised over £12k for The Makaton Charity!

Here's a little taster of the event where there was a 'sing and sign' at the summit of the amazing Singing Hands mash-up of Keep on Movin' / Ain't No Mountain High Enough!

 

After the success of MakaHike 2021, this year we will be taking on Ben Nevis for the MakaHike 2022! Come and join us to climb Ben Nevis on Saturday 10th September 2022. At the top there will be a Makaton ‘sing and sign’, again led by Suzanne Miell-Ingram from Singing Hands

Standing at 1345m Ben Nevis summit is the highest point in the UK, and about 25% bigger than Mount Snowdon, the journey there and back is 10.5 miles long. Are you ready for the challenge? Cost is £49.00 per person with a minimum fundraising target £150. Email richard.fish@makaton.org for the application form.

Published

15th January 2022

News

Tall Tails Theatre Company
14/01/2022

Tall Tails Theatre Company

A man standing in a prop hot air balloon
Tall Tails Theatre Logo

Richard and Abby Young founded Tall Tails Theatre Company in February 2019 in order to make theatre accessible for people in Somerset, the south-west, and for national festivals. They believe that everyone should be able to enjoy theatre and make their shows with that in mind. Tall Tails shows a supportive environment for audiences and artists where individual and collective creativity, imagination and participation are encouraged. 

Upon receiving funding from the Arts Council England Tall Tails Theatre started working with their tutor Sonia Sansom to embed Makaton in their shows. Alongside this training and support they benefited from learning about the needs of Makaton users and how it beautifully supports storytelling for all. 

Mr Popsy in a hot air balloon

Tall Tails achieved funding to make a Christmas film in 2020, “What a Superhero Wants For Christmas”. In addition to the temporary shutting of cultural venues and cancellation of many holiday events, the pandemic fast-tracked the nation into a digital world. This spelt an opportunity for Tall Tails Theatre to increase access to the arts by taking proper time and care to embed accessibility. As such, Tall Tails incorporated a wide range of access provision into What a Superhero Wants for Christmas in order to ensure the film could reach all families. It’s captioned, audio describe and Makaton is used by the characters, with disability-friendly, inclusive production, themes and language throughout.

Having brought "The Tale of the Charming Rat" to over 1000 people in 2021, Tall Tails Theatre Company are very excited to be touring “The Adventures of Madame Carol Sell and Mr Popsy” in 2022. Performing at events and venues such as,  Just So Festival, The Cockpit, Stanley Arts Centre, Wilderness Festival, The Black Cherry and The Art Bank. 




Follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Or visit  www.talltailstheatre.com to find out when they are performing near you!

Do you work in an organisation or have visited somewhere that you feel is Makaton Friendly? We have more information for organisations about Becoming a Makaton Friendly Partner. Alternatively, please contact us at help@makaton.org if you would like some more guidance  on how to help an organisation to become Makaton Friendly.

 

14th January 2022

Out and about

Nottingham Castle
13/01/2022

Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle
Nottingham Castle

Before The Makaton Charity relaunched their Makaton Friendly Scheme, Nottingham Castle identified that its visitors would benefit from the staff attending further training in Makaton, to support those with additional communication needs.

During the £31 million restoration project of the Castle, the Learning and Visitor Experience Manager contacted me. He advised me that at least one member of staff had been booked onto the Makaton Level 1 workshop and was now looking for an introduction/refresher/Taster for the rest of the team, in the rudiments and principles of Makaton and how it works to support learning for the very young and those with additional needs with their communication.

Naturally I was delighted to be asked to support this project, not just because I am passionate about ensuring communication is accessible for all, but also because I live in Nottingham, I know the Castle very well and I can offer that extra ongoing support. The Learning Manager and I were able to discuss, with two team leaders, the vocabulary that would best suit the learning experiences of their visitors. They wanted to provide a welcome to all of their visitors, by recognising the difficulty that some people might have in such settings. Makaton is such a visual multi modal language programme and has so many benefits, particularly in today’s current climate, with so many wearing face masks which restrict our ability to read lips and facial expressions.

The Makaton Taster workshop includes more than 34 high frequency, functional, everyday signs and symbols as standard, as well as some background, theory and principles of using Makaton. I was able to discuss with the Learning Manager and two team leaders, an extra set of vocabulary that would be specifically relevant to Nottingham Castle. This vocabulary would benefit visitors accessing the shop, castle exhibitions, galleries, activities, and other services offered within the grounds.

With recent Covid-19 restrictions having just been lifted, we were able to arrange safe face-to-face workshops for approximately 40 staff. These staff had roles in many areas, such as the Visitor Experience team, Team Leaders, Volunteers, Explainers and Meet and Greet.

I always strive to make my workshops fun and interactive, and this was no exception. The staff all embraced the elements of the Training session in a very positive manner. They asked appropriate questions, which showed that they were thinking how best to implement Makaton into their specific roles. Each participant had the opportunity to practice their Makaton by “reading” each other’s signing, translating signing sentences from me and making up their own sentences with a given selection of symbols.

After the workshops had finished that day, I had the privilege of being able to wander around the Castle and its grounds, as it hadn’t yet opened to the public. This was a fantastic and quite emotional experience for me. I could see first-hand how much hard work had gone into the renovation project. It was amazing. As I strolled around, I bumped into quite a few of the participants. They all impressed me by signing “hello” and all attempted to sign a full sentence to me, as we passed. I imagined how welcoming and inclusive this would feel as a Makaton user. I know that the confidence they have gained will mean that they will continue using Makaton and hopefully build on their training to become Makaton Friendly.

Since completing the training, I have had an email from staff at Nottingham Castle to say that they have had a lot of positive feedback from visitors who have experienced their use of Makaton.

See also: Nottingham Castle | Andrea Makaton Training

Do you work in an organisation or have visited somewhere that you feel is Makaton Friendly? We have more information for organisations about Becoming a Makaton Friendly Partner. Alternatively, please contact us at help@makaton.org if you would like some more guidance  on how to help an organisation to become Makaton Friendly.

 

Author

Andrea Patterson

13th January 2022

Out and about

Why I love Makaton Friendly Scheme
13/01/2022

Why I love the Makaton Friendly Scheme

DJ Jay with Makaton Friendly Silver certificate

In 2018, Aged 16 I became the only DJ in the UK to be Makaton Friendly. It was a proud moment, not just being recognised as an inclusive entertainer, but it also raised awareness of the need for entertainers like myself to step up and deliver an equal event experience.

Through my own close bond with my cousin Alice, a Makaton User I had a passion to make my own path and Makaton became a big part of that.

In the 3 years since then I have been blown away with the opportunities that followed this accreditation.

I have supported events for Charities all over the UK, made an appearance on CBBC Newsround and Something Special, and the highlight was meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace.

When the pandemic struck it had a devastating impact on the entertainment sector, and I was grateful that I was still able to reach children with learning disabilities/autism with virtual sessions via Zoom. I believe it made visual communication key to performances and this made sure I kept using and developing my use of Makaton.

When my Makaton Friendly license expired in 2020, I was keen to re-apply and found the scheme on hold due to Covid, with plans to relaunch in 2021. As soon as the new Makaton Friendly Scheme was launched, I began my application. I was pleased to find that as I have completed Makaton Level 2 training, I was able to apply for a Silver status.

My Silver status means that I have access to Makaton’s digital library as well as the Makaton Friendly Prompt Cards. Wherever I am I can search a concept on my phone and check the sign and symbol. This helps me include everyone live at the event, which is my number one objective.

DJ Jay's pin on the Makaton Friendly map

I love the Makaton Friendly Map, which provides a way for parents, carers, and Makaton users themselves to find organisations that use Makaton.

You can search by area postcode, say you are going on holiday somewhere and want to plan where to go. A nice new feature is to search by type so if you search DJ you will find currently DJ Jay is the only one in the UK on the map!

I love that Makaton Friendly supports not only Makaton users but also people like me raise awareness of my business and its use of inclusive communication.







Do you work in an organisation or have visited somewhere that you feel is Makaton Friendly? We have more information for organisations about Becoming a Makaton Friendly Partner. Alternatively, please contact us at help@makaton.org if you would like some more guidance  on how to help an organisation to become Makaton Friendly.

 

Author

Jake Glennon  

7th January 2022

Out and about

Countdown to Christmas Highlights 2021
12/01/2022

Countdown to Christmas Highlights 2021

Festively dressed participants in the Countdown to Christmas

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

10th January 2022

News

Aquatint, behind the scenes
11/01/2022

Aquatint, behind the scenes

Man packing Makaton workshop manuals into a box
Aquatint Logo

Aquatint are the fulfilment and storage provider for The Makaton Charity's resources, including books, manuals and merchandise. Aquatint give a behind the scenes view of how Makaton resources are printed, produced and delivered to you.

Aquatint staffSince we first worked with The Makaton Charity in 2010 our relationship has grown dramatically and we hope to the benefit of both organisations. Aquatint has a proven background of working with charities such as  Breast Cancer Now, Young Minds, St Mungos and the World Wildlife Fund.  In the early days of our relationships we were as “just another supplier”  happily supplying printed items by the crate full which were delivered into a distribution centre and there our involvement ended. We like to think that this supplier/customer relationship has now evolved into a more productive partnership.

Manuals being boundTechnology never stands still and over the years the charity has shown itself to be open to harness new methods to improve their service to their customers and reduce costs.  The first major step was to move to “print on demand” and “just in time ordering” making use of our investments in high end digital printing systems. This meant only ordering goods as required and doing away with the need to hold large volume of stock thus vastly reducing storage costs and wastage and doing away with the need for a separate storage facility. The on-demand service has allowed the Makaton charity to continue to offer its wide range of specialist publications without having to invest in holding stock. 

Getting ready to pack manualsIn addition to the books and manuals we also supply much of the merchandise such as pens, t-shirts and hoodies etc. We tap into our supply chain of approximately 90 manufacturers supplying approximately 15000 items. When supplying such items, it is essential that we can guarantee that they are all ethically produced and all standards with regard to environment and working conditions are met. To this end we only work with suppliers certified by Sedex ensuring they meet compliance and drive positive impact on people.

We constantly work with the team at Makaton to see how we can drive efficiency and reduce the number of contact points in the journey of getting materials into the hands of tutors and customers alike. Currently we receive daily orders which are printed or picked and packed normally within 24 hours of receipt and delivered via Royal Mail or courier. The system very much works on having accurate records at all times and our whole system is integrated with stock and production records and our next step on the journey will be to integrate or open these systems with Makaton. However, it seems like all software projects this is proving slightly more difficult to achieve!

Anca PiketIt has been a constantly evolving journey with the Makaton Charity and we look forward to it continuing.

Roc Da Silva, Director of Finance and Services, comments:

"Anca Piket (pictured) looks after our daily relationship with our fulfilment and storage provider Aquatint and has helped our strong daily relationship with them.

"We are always pleased to discuss our needs with them, and they are always amiable towards providing us with product sourcing, a continued good service and we look forward to 2022 being fruitful for both parties."

Published

10th January 2022

News

Vacancy: Membership Engagement Officer
10/01/2022

Vacancy: Membership Engagement Officer

Makaton symbol for Office Worker

The closing date for this vacancy was Wednesday 26th January 2022.

We are recruiting! A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a Membership Engagement Officer to support our Makaton membership team with engagement and retention, via connecting with our members.

The key focus of the position will be on generating engaging content within the MakaChat eCommunity, and understanding what members needs are through questioning and working with our Ambassador network.

We are looking for a candidate who has good copy writing and proof-reading abilities, can interpret data and insight to produce effective digital content, and has experience of using content and digital channels to attract and grow new audiences. Experience of working in a Membership based attraction or Charity would be desirable.

Applicants must be interested in engaging with and understanding disabilities and the wider Makaton user community, be an excellent problem solver, personable, flexible, and hardworking.

For more details about the position and to get a full job description, please contact sarah.parke@makaton.org.

This is a 6 month, FTC for 21 hours per week (preferably over 3 full days).

The closing date is Wednesday 26th January, with a start date from w/c 28th February.

See also: Work for us

Published

10th January 2022

News

The Tutor Training Journey
10/01/2022

The Tutor Training Journey

If you’ve completed your Makaton Workshop Levels 1 to 4 you might be thinking about the next step.

The Makaton Tutor Training journey covers, in depth, the design of the Makaton Language Programme and its implementation over an extensive range of difficulties. 

On the Tutor Training course you will:

  • Develop your knowledge and understanding of language structure.
  • Learn about techniques to advance signing and symbol use.
  • Develop your translation skills.
  • Learn about delivering Makaton Workshops to our standard of Excellence.

Once you’ve successfully completed your Tutor Training journey you will:

  • Be a key part of the Makaton Community.
  • Have access to the resource and tools to successfully embed and teach the Makaton Language Programme.
  • Be part of a collaborative Tutor Network.
  • Have opportunities to be involved and influence the direction of the Makaton Charity.

A Licensed Makaton Tutor can deliver all of the standardised Makaton workshops and can work freelance. There are opportunities to provide support to others and liaise regularly with The Makaton Charity.

Training to become a Makaton Tutor could be one of the most rewarding things you do! Don’t take our word for it, here’s what some of our recently qualified Tutors have to say about the process.

“I never knew how much I loved Makaton until I completed my Tutor Training. Before the training days I was really anxious, unsure what to expect and who I was going to meet. I doubted whether I was ready and if I was good enough. The training with Zanna and Tracy was invaluable. They really put us all at ease and reminded us that we are now on the journey to become a Tutor, no matter how long it takes, we will get there and that they would be there every step of the way.

Through this journey, I have made lifelong friends. My Tutor has supported me all the way through my journey, and the encouragement from the Senior Tutors and Ambassadors is outstanding. There is always someone to support at any time. I have taken away so much from this journey, particularly a new-found confidence that I never realised I had. Becoming a Makaton Tutor is one of my proudest achievements and a title that I will truly cherish.”

Jess, Tutor Training course May 2021

“I first began my Makaton journey back in 2007 and I have firmly embedded it in my working life since. The last few years have been rather a whirlwind of Makaton from the moment I refreshed all my training and got inspired to become a Makaton Signing for Babies Trainer to embarking on the Tutor Training journey and finally to achieving Makaton Friendly status for my business.

As a licensed Makaton Tutor I am very proud to be able to represent the Charity by teaching others, right from babies, and I hope that my love of working with children, families of all ages, and Makaton shines through everything I do.

It’s been a wonderful journey full of hard work, planning, preparation (and revision!) but well worth it for the opportunity to give everyone a voice. To give them a chance to make choices and be independent, but most of all, to provide them with access to a language programme that can help enable each and every one of them to reach their full potential.”

Pixie, Tutor Training course July 2021

 

Pixie and Leo

“My journey to becoming a Makaton Tutor has been that of enjoyment. I have had the privilege of learning from very experienced Makaton Tutors and have gone more in depth into the theory part of Makaton, from its history through to techniques of teaching to the required standard expected by the charity.

What I have taken away from my Tutor Training journey is that the support that is always available for you, whether this be from the charity itself or from other Tutors. I have found that other Tutors are always more than happy to help if you have any queries, and the training department are always on the end of a phone or email.

Finally, I would like to add that this has been a dream of mine for many years and all I would say to anybody that is thinking about this journey is, follow your dreams as they can come true!”

David, Tutor Training course July 2021

If the Makaton Tutor training journey sounds like something you’d like to pursue then please email help@makaton.org and we can send you more details about the pathway and the application process.

Published

10th January 2022

News

Library maintenance
17/12/2021

Library maintenance

Makaton symbol for Library

During the festive season and in the early New Year, we are working on our library to make it smarter, to give you a better search return.

In the meantime, you may experience some unusual search returns.

Please bear with us whilst we are working on the library.

Thank you.

Published

30th November 2021

News

Strictly signing 2021
19/11/2021

Strictly signing 2021

Rose and Giovanni from Strictly Come Dancing 2021 signing Hello

Alice with her Makaton Symbol resourceSince 2017, at the age of 12, Alice has loved all things Strictly Come Dancing - the Glitter Ball, Musicals week, Blackpool and even Craig Revel Horwood!

There was a particular dance from that year that became a favourite – danced by celebrity Gemma Atkinson and professional dancer Aljaž Škorjanec, Alice still talks about it every day.

Back in 2018 I faced a problem, how to help Alice understand why Aljaž would have a new dance partner in the next series, and her beloved Gemma would not be in the show.  So, with Alice’s help I developed a ‘Match the Dance Partners’ Makaton Symbol Resource.

Making this resource each year has become our favourite activity!

As soon as the new celebrities are announced we make a resource with their Strictly announcement photo and a Makaton Symbols to show what they are famous for/what they do e.g. Actor, Olympian, TV presenter, Singer etc.

Alice enjoys getting to know the celebrities and guessing who they might be partnered. By the time launch night arrives, Alice is ready with glue stick in hand to permanently match the celebrities to their professional dance partners.

With permissions from The Makaton Charity, we started to share this resource on Alice’s #StrictlySigning webpage and were astounded that this year it was downloaded a record 683 times.

Alongside the downloads Alice began to receive messages about how fabulous the resource was, helping Strictly fans engage with the launch show and supporting memory and understanding after watching the show. We were thrilled that our resource was helping others, and it encouraged us to share of our Strictly resources.

Each week Alice and I make a new score sheet and update records of the previous weeks scores and elimination – these are all shared on Alice’s #StrictlySigning webpage. To see a simple idea support and benefit so many others is A-MAZ-ING!

What about the Signing?!

Of course, Alice’s Strictly engagement is not limited to Makaton Symbols but Makaton Signs too. Alice continues to campaign each year for more awareness of signing on mainstream TV, and this year’s response has been exceptional.

Alice makes video messages that we tweet to all the celebrities and professionals encouraging them to sign ‘Thank You’ and ‘Hello not Goodbye’ at the start of the show. Alice has seen support from Makaton Tutors and other inclusion heroes who have supported her bid. We are sure you have noticed the record number of thank yous signed each week: FAB-U-LOUS!

This year thanks to help from Alice’s friend Harry (whose Mum is Makaton Tutor Jemma Sagar), Amy Dowden and Tom Fletcher have signed Hello every week this series.

Of course this year has seen a rise awareness thanks the East Enders Actress Rose Ayling-Ellis who is deaf and a British Sign Language (BSL) user.

We believe that all signing awareness should be celebrated, respecting different ways in which we communicate is essential in an inclusive world. 

As living rooms across the UK fell silent for a few moments during week 7 of Strictly when Rose and Giovanni danced their couple choice’s. Mid performance the music stopped and they continued to dance in silence, you may have  reached for a tissue – moved by the moment and experience.

I glanced at Alice – absorbed by the dance – not even realising the music had stopped because to her the sudden loss of sound is nothing new or unexpected.

The judge Motsi said:

"In this case, I honestly feel like saying thank you. I think this was such a beautiful moment to include us in your world and for us to actually understand how important and how aware we all could be of each other genuinely everywhere. This was so special. Sometimes it's more than just marks and scores and dancing, sometimes it's just a moment."

We can all be better by having experienced that moment, respectful, kinder. More inclusive.

Alice and I can’t wait to see who will hold the Glitter Ball this year! #keepdancing #keepsigning

Visit https://inclusiveteachingmatters.com/strictlysigning/ to download the symbol resource.

Author

Amanda Glennon

19th November 2021

Out and about

Makaton Friendly relaunched!
18/11/2021

Makaton Friendly relaunched!

Young man pointing to a symbol menu held by a young waitress

Young man pointing to a symbol menu held by a young waitressWe are delighted to announce that we have relaunched our exciting new Makaton Friendly partnership programme, designed to make organisations and community more accessible to Makaton users. We are passionate about communication and firmly believe that all children and adults with learning or communication difficulty should enjoy equal access to services and facilities. The scheme drives inclusivity to help create a fairer and more tolerant society for all.

There are Makaton Friendly organisations across the country, with more joining each week. They can range from nurseries, childminders schools and colleges to farms, churches, retail shops, cafes even football and sport clubs. They have all invested in their staff and venues to meet our Makaton Friendly criteria and improve their accessibility for anyone using Makaton.

Take a look at our Makaton Friendly map is there a Makaton Friendly place near you? Are you visiting an area? Why not check if there is a Makaton Friendly organisation there!

We are proud to say that St Asaph is the first Makaton Friendly city in Wales to become Makaton Friendly. This has taken a lot of hard work and dedication from our Makaton Tutors and organisations in the city, working together to provide a whole community that welcomes and includes people with learning or communication difficulties that use Makaton. We have other towns that are Makaton Friendly and large cities that are hot on the heels of St Asaph.

When you are out and about you may see our Makaton Friendly window sticker or certificate

This is to show that the organisation has demonstrated that they:

  • Understand that people use alternative ways to communicate
  • Provide a supporting and welcoming environment
  • Use symbols and signs around the organisation to aid inclusiveness and independence

Do you work in an organisation or have visited somewhere that you feel is Makaton Friendly? We have more information on our website for organisations about Becoming a Makaton Friendly Partner. Alternatively, please contact us at help@makaton.org if you would like some more guidance  on how to help an organisation to become Makaton Friendly.
If you visit a Makaton Friendly place, please share with us on social media it would be great to see and hear of your visits.

Published

18th November 2021

News

Communication Access UK First Anniversary
12/11/2021

Communication Access UK First Anniversary

Communication Access UK logo

Communication Access UK logo #CommunicationAccess

Everyday life can be a real challenge for the millions of people in the UK who have speech, language and communication needs. Good customer service from companies, who know how to communicate with them in an inclusive way, can make such a difference to their experiences. This is why, in November 2020, The Makaton Charity worked with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and other partners to launch free Communication Access training to help businesses and individuals get better at supporting people with communication needs.

Over 4,500 businesses and individuals have already registered for the training, but with your help, we’d like to encourage many more organisations to sign up. So, to mark the first anniversary of the training, please join us on Wednesday, 17 November 2021 to create greater awareness of people’s communication difficulties and how this fantastic business tool can benefit everyone. 

We’ll be posting content along with our other partner organisations on social media throughout the day using the hashtag #CommunicationAccess, but we’d love to see your posts too. There are a number of ways you can get involved and here are some examples:

On social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) use the hashtag #CommunicationAccess and signpost people to www.communication-access.co.uk to:

  • Reach out to your local businesses and encourage them to sign up;
  • Share your stories/experiences of communication difficulty and provide good and bad examples of the kind of customer service you’ve received and how this has made you feel;
  • Say why you are supporting the Communication Access training initiative and how it would make life easier for you if every business undertook the training;
  • Tell us if you’ve had a good customer experience from a company that is already Communication Access Accredited (taken the training).
  • Tell us if you have done the Communication Access training yourself and how it has helped you and others.

Communication Access training for organisations gives them information and awareness of how they can support all with a communication need. Organisations can then further their support to the Makaton community by attending Makaton training, to enable them to join the Makaton Friendly partnership progamme. The Makaton Friendly partnership programme is a key tool in making organisations and community spaces more accessible toMakaton Users. The scheme drives inclusivity to help create a fairer and more tolerant society for all. Find out how to become a Makaton Friendly partner.

Published

12th November 2021

News

Makaton News revamp
01/10/2021

Makaton News revamp

Two women talking to each other

All good things must come to an end… and be replaced with something even better!

We are changing the format of Makaton Monthly to make way for a new and improved Makaton newsletter. We will be going to a bi-monthly schedule from November, bringing you a ‘new look’ Makaton newsletter from January 2022. Get ready for exciting Makaton content, resources, news and more! Make sure you are subscribed, you won’t want to miss out.

(You need to be signed in to subscribe to Makaton News. Sign in or create a free account)

Published

1st October 2021

News

Win an Advent calendar
30/09/2021

Win an Advent calendar

Win a beautiful handmade felt Advent calendar with Makaton Symbols
The closing date for this competition wass 15th November 2021.

The Advent calendar: Makaton Symbols, doors, toys

To celebrate the start of Countdown to Christmas we are giving you the chance to win a beautiful handmade felt Advent calendar with Makaton Symbols. For each day during Advent there is a hand sewn Christmas character and corresponding symbol.

For your chance to win, head over to our Facebook page and leave a comment on our post telling us your favourite Makaton moment of the year. This could be for example a child using Makaton for the first time, a student using a choice board, your organisation becoming Makaton Friendly or enjoying our Monday Sign of the Week! We would love to hear your Makaton stories!

Please note this item contains small parts, use under supervision.

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 makaton.org/TMC/News_Stories/News/Win_an_Advent_calendar
  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 15th November 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 your favourite Makaton moment of the year.
  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: Handmade felt Advent calendar with Makaton Symbols.
  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.
Published

10th November 2021

News

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

Just the way I am
12/10/2021

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

Xander Green

21st June 2021

At home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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