A lot of research has been conducted to test the effectiveness of using signs and symbols to help people communicate, develop language and literacy skills.

This research has been carried out during the last 40 to 50 years. This means that some of the terminology used particularly in the early papers, are not phrases or terms we would use in the UK today. However, their findings have played an important part in the development of the Makaton Language Programme, and affected how sign and symbols systems are used to help children and adults learn communication, language and literacy skills today.

Research papers

You can download the following research papers for free from the Research folder in the Makaton Library...


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Birkett, E.M. (1984)
A comparative study of the effects of the Makaton vocabulary and a language stimulation programme on the communication abilities of mentally handicapped adults.

Coleman, A. (2014)
MyChoicePad Study: Adults with Learning Disability. The effectiveness of using MyChoicePad as a communication and learning tool in a specialist college in the UK.

Cornforth, A.R.T., Johnson, K. Walker, M. (1974)
Teaching sign language to the deaf mentally handicapped. Apex, 2(1), 23-25.

Ford, J. (2006)
Enhancing Parent and Child Communication: Using Makaton Signing for Babies. A look at some of the research into the use of signing and reports on findings which have demonstrated the benefits of using Makaton signing to enhance communication between parents and their babies.

Franc S. (2000)
La communication augment�e: Principes. Un syst�me original. Le programme Makaton.

Grove, N. (1980)
Current research findings to support the use of sign language with adults and children who have intellectual and communication handicaps.

Powell, G. (1999)
Current research findings to support the use of signs with adults and children who have intellectual and communication difficulties.

Reed, A. (2014)
Makaton and MFL case study. Manchester Communication Academy To what extent does learning sign language alongside a foreign language in Modern Foreign Languages lessons support oral vocabulary retention in the foreign language?

Sheehy, K. Duffy, H. (2009)
Attitudes to Makaton in the ages of integration and inclusion. International Journal of Special Education, 24, 2.

Volpato, D., Orton, D. and Blackburn, D. (1986)
Making Progress with Makaton. Nursing Times 30 April 1986, 33-35.

Walker, M. (1977)
Teaching sign language to deaf mentally handicapped adults. (Institute of Mental Subnormality Conference Proceedings) Language and the Mentally Handicapped, 3, 3-25.

Walker, M. (1987)
The Makaton Vocabulary - Uses and effectiveness.

Walker, M. Armfield, A. (1981)
What is the Makaton Vocabulary? Special Education: Forward Trends, 8, (3), 19-20.


The following overviews are also available from the Makaton Library:

  • References to Makaton in publications and research 2010-16
  • References to Makaton in the Better Communication Research Programme (BCRP) report
  • Additional research