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.
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 [email protected] if you would like some more guidance on how to help an organisation to become Makaton Friendly.