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.

2023's Best Seller
29/01/2024

2023's Best Seller

Makaton Vocabulary Flashcards

Makaton Vocabulary FlashcardsHave you got your Everyday Vocabulary Flashcards yet?

Our bestselling item in 2023 is a powerful tool for individuals of all ages and abilities to enhance communication.

With 37 carefully chosen signs and symbols, these compact flashcards cover a range of essential everyday words and are designed in a convenient pocket size making them perfect for on-the-go use, either independently or attached to a lanyard (sold separately).

These flashcards can be used in a variety of ways to build sentences, initiate conversation, or prompt social interactions. They can also be used in conjunction with other Makaton resources to help develop literacy skills, increase vocabulary, and improve comprehension.

Shop now

Published
1st March 2023

News

Empowering communication in Early Years
19/01/2024

Empowering communication in Early Years

Noticeboard with Makaton signs

Noticeboard with Makaton signsJayde Conway is a newly qualified Makaton Tutor and Early Years SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) at The Sunflower Children’s Centre in Tameside. Here, she shares her journey to becoming a Makaton Tutor and the positive impact Makaton is making in her Early Years setting.

In the vibrant world of early childhood education, effective communication is the cornerstone of fostering meaningful connections with young learners. As an enthusiastic advocate for inclusive teaching practices, I embarked on a transformative journey to become a Makaton tutor. This decision was fuelled by the desire to create an environment where every child, regardless of their communication abilities, feels heard and understood.

Children entering a nursery setting come along with a diverse range of communication abilities. Some may be confident communicators, while others may face challenges in expressing themselves. Recognising this diversity, I decided to explore Makaton, a unique and inclusive communication tool.

My journey as a Makaton Tutor began with a comprehensive training programme that covered the fundamentals of the Makaton communication programme. From basic signs and symbols to constructing sentences, my Tutor training provided a thorough understanding of how Makaton can be integrated into everyday life. One of the highlights of the training was the emphasis on practical application. Through hands-on activities and scenarios, I gained confidence in incorporating Makaton seamlessly into nursery routines, learning, and play.

The primary benefit of integrating Makaton into the nursery setting is the enhanced communication between educators and children. For those who may struggle with verbal communication, Makaton provides a visual and tactile means to express their thoughts, needs, and feelings. Makaton fosters inclusivity by breaking down communication barriers. It creates a shared understanding that unites children of diverse communication abilities, promoting a sense of belonging among the nursery community.

Beyond communication, Makaton supports the development of essential skills such as fine motor skills, cognitive abilities, and social interaction. Engaging with signs and symbols stimulates various areas of a child's brain, contributing to their overall development.

Picture of JaydeAs we continue to implement Makaton across our early years setting, I am seeing a positive ripple effect as staff and children develop their communication skills and engagement with Makaton. We have introduced a 'Sign of the Week' board, which has been a great way to support staff and children in learning a brand new sign every single week. Children are more engaged, confident, and expressive in their communication. The nursery environment is a space where every child's unique voice is valued and heard.

Becoming a Makaton Tutor not only enriches my teaching practice but also contributes to the development of an inclusive and empowering nursery environment. By embracing the power of Makaton as a team, we are helping children overcome communication barriers and laying the foundation for a future where every child has the tools they need to thrive. In the colourful world of early childhood education, Makaton is a beacon of inclusivity, ensuring that no voice goes unheard, and I am both excited and proud to finally become part of the Makaton family.

Author

Jayde Conway

19th January 2024

At school

Volunteer playworker
07/12/2023

Volunteer playworker

Portrait photo of Abigail

Portrait photo of AbigailMy name is Abigail, and my story was featured on The Makaton Charity website back on 10th May 2022. I thought I would give an update for your website to show you where I am: a proud volunteer playworker working for the incredible Darlington Association on Disability (D.A.D).

We work with children and young people aged 3 to 25 with complex needs to other special needs, especially young people and children with communication and speech impairments.

We work very closely with Makaton; we are all training and learning at the same time, and we understand a lot of children's and young people's needs. As a volunteer playworker, this brings my Makaton skills to the test, and it has come in handy when you're at work, loving every minute of being a Volunteer Playworker.

A young woman chopping a tomatoAlso, we do various schemes through D.A.D, and we also love to learn and practice our Makaton skills.

I can't wait to see what the future brings for all at Darlington Association on Disability.

Thank you so much for sharing my volunteer playworker story on your website. Maybe a part three in the future. Thank you so much for listening to my story.

Love, Volunteer Playworker Abigail xxx

 

Read Abigail's first blog: Makaton is for everyone

Author
Abigail
7th December 2023

At work

Spring Sale
06/12/2023

Spring Sale

Spring Sale
The sale ended at midnight, 31st March 2024.

Blue skies are appearing, daffodils are starting to bloom and supermarkets are full of Easter Eggs, which can only mean one thing – it’s time for the Makaton Spring Sale!

From today you can save 20% on all products* on our online shop.

Put a spring in your step with our diverse range of Makaton products! From Core Vocabulary books  and interactive games to enchanting story books and branded Makaton merchandise – there’s a wide variety of products available to help you learn Makaton, develop your skills, and have fun.

Simply enter the code SPRING24 at checkout to receive 20% off your order* throughout the whole of March.**

Happy Spring, Happy shopping!

 

Shop now

 

*Spring Sale excludes Membership and Tutor Resources
**Offer valid from 1.3.2024 – 31.3.2024 inclusive

Published
1st March 2024

News

We are seeking new Trustees
06/12/2023

We are seeking new Trustees

Photo of three people sitting around a laptop
The deadline for applications has now passed.

Photo of three people sitting around a laptopWe are seeking new Trustees to join The Makaton Charity’s Board to provide advice, guidance, and challenge the evolution of strategy, plans, and projects.

Specifically, we are looking for those who bring either finance, legal, digital marketing or grant-making expertise.

The Makaton Charity is partnering with Nurole, the leading board-level search specialist, to find Trustees. You can find out more and register your initial interest here: bit.ly/MakatonTrustees

For any questions or problems, please contact [email protected]

Published

8th December 2023

News

Vacancy: Franchise Manager
06/12/2023

Vacancy: Franchise Manager

Makaton symbol for Office Worker

The closing date for this vacancy was 26th February 2024

We are recruiting! As part of our expansion strategy in 2024, we're introducing an accredited 'Trainer' role to embed Makaton in sector-specific areas and reach new markets and audiences. To drive this exciting initiative forward, we're seeking a dynamic and strategic-minded Franchise Manager. This senior role is essential for the development and implementation of our wider franchise initiative, playing a pivotal role in overseeing our existing Tutor Support Team and spearheading the establishment of the new Trainer provision, working to recruit partner organisations and trainer candidates.

As the lead of the Tutor and Trainer Team, you'll drive the identification and acquisition of new business opportunities, involving leveraging your expertise in business development to expand our reach and promote the success of the Makaton Tutor and Trainer franchise model. Your strategic oversight and effective management practices will be instrumental in maintaining the integrity of our brand and ensuring the continued growth and impact of our franchise network.

This is a unique opportunity to join a passionate and dedicated team, where you'll have the chance to make a tangible difference in the lives of individuals served by Makaton. If you're driven, innovative, and ready to take on a leadership role in driving social impact, we invite you to join us on this rewarding journey

This is a full time (35 hours per week), permanent role, working under a hybrid model. Please contact [email protected] for a full job description, salary details, and details of how to apply.

Closing date for applications is Tuesday 26th March.

No agencies please.

See also: Working for us

Published

14th March 2024

News

Olaf Learns Makaton
20/11/2023

Olaf Learns Makaton

Team Olaf to the Rescue front cover

Olaf is a three-year-old fox red Labrador therapist and a published author. He was invited to speak at the Cheltenham Literature Festival 2023. Olaf is a family pet registered with the Pets As Therapy (PAT) Charity. His job is to make people smile when, with his human mum (a specialist teacher and mindfulness coach), he visits hospitals and schools.

Every Thursday morning, Olaf goes to Battledown Special School. He enjoys his visits so much that he set his second book there! Team Olaf to the Rescue is a heartwarming story about his classroom adventures (it very cleverly rhymes!). With help from his merry band of canine mates, Olaf saves the school’s Christmas celebrations and gives the children a party they will never forget. All the dogs in Team Olaf are Olaf's real friends whom he sees every day on his walks. They all play a vital role in the story, showing kindness, creativity, and bravery. Fun activities are added to stimulate the reader's imagination and memory.

Olaf in book shop Battledown School uses Makaton as part of their teaching and learning, so we included their symbols in the book to enable more of Olaf’s human friends to enjoy it. We were delighted Makaton wanted to be involved in our project and are grateful to the Team for their expertise and patience. They provided symbols for the concepts/story words and explained where to place them on the page, so that the story makes sense to the Makaton reader.

Olaf's first book, Mr. Olaf the Therapist, is a mindfulness scrapbook, diarying his experiences in a mainstream school and his work in the NHS. As a PAT dog, Olaf visits Cheltenham General Hospital where he is a valued member of the Knightsbridge (Gastric) and Critical Care Teams. He has been doing this for over two years but is still banned from the staff rooms because of the doughnuts... It is a privilege and humbling to be welcomed so warmly by patients, their families, and Olaf’s NHS colleagues. Olaf also shares his lifestyle wisdom with self-care activities and mindfulness questions to help us reflect on our own work/life balance.

Olaf gives all the proceeds from his books to the Pets as Therapy charity. He attends promotional PAT events e.g., Crufts and Goodwuff.

For more information about PAT and/or to buy Olaf’s books, please visit Pets as Therapy.

Rachel and Olaf Flower

Author

Rachel and Olaf Flower

20th November 2023

 

Out and about

Ava's Communication Journey
17/11/2023

Ava's Communication Journey

Ava with her mum and dad

Ava, with her Mother and FatherOur daughter Ava was born with left sided CDH (Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia) which was undiagnosed until birth. She had this repaired at just 4 days old and spent her first 5 weeks of life in neonatal intensive care and subsequently has a delay in her development, resulting in Ava reaching her milestones much later. Talking is one of those milestones she hasn’t quite reached yet at 4 years old.

Ava’s understanding of what we were saying to her was always there but as she couldn’t say what she wanted to back to us, it was so disheartening as she’s such a happy, smiley little girl, who is cheeky and full of life.

Before starting nursery, Ava would make sounds but would often become very frustrated, very quickly at not being able to communicate successfully with us. Her frustration would mean she would grab and pull us to get our attention or for something she wanted. She would also pinch and push other children on play dates, which was really hard to deal with. It often made me feel very anxious at the thought of having to constantly watch her and be ready to pull her away if she got too ‘handsy’. At times, it felt easier just to say we couldn’t make a play date, just to avoid being in what I felt was an uncomfortable situation.

When Ava started going to nursery in the months before turning 3, she had the 1:1 support from Sarah who is also a Makaton tutor. Sarah would explain the use of Makaton to us but initially we felt that Ava may not be ready to learn and follow a new skill like that, as her attention span was so minimal and she would never hold her attention to any one thing, for more than a matter of seconds. We also thought that it would somehow stop her from speaking.

Ava using Makaton symbols

We noticed as Ava spent more time with Sarah in nursery setting that she would start to use hand gestures at home or physically move us to what she wanted to do or to get something that she needed.

When we would pick Ava up from nursery, Sarah would say what sign(s) they’d been learning that day and we would see that Ava would then start repeating those signs at home. The first signs Ava made were amazing and it felt quite emotional because Ava had a huge beaming smile on her face and you could see her happy, that at last, she could sign something that we understood. She could finally communicate effectively with me and her dad and the more she did, the calmer she seemed to become. It was at this point we felt that it was time we looked at completing Makaton level 1 to gather a better understanding and to be able to use it properly to make a difference to Ava’s communication.

We talked about Makaton with our family and we had a positive reaction, although the grandparents were more apprehensive about trying to learn a new skill and retaining the information. They were also nervous about having to practice the signs in a group setting (even though we are all family and know each other!) and feeling embarrassed if they couldn’t do the sign properly. But the main thing was all the family wanted to come together and do it for Ava as everyone could see it’s the one thing that seemed to be working for her communication.

Ava reading a book

We did level 1 Makaton over two sessions which worked really well. Once we got into the sessions, everyone settled in and felt so comfortable with Sarah’s teaching, we had a laugh whilst learning and everyone felt happy they’d given it a go and actually learnt some!

Since completing level 1 and incorporating Makaton into our daily lives, Ava’s so happy and the frustration has disappeared!

Now, Ava can sign what she needs; food she wants to eat, whether she needs a drink, what she’d like to watch on tv, what she wants to play with, where she wants to go; the list seems endless now, whereas before we’d struggle to know any of that. She can go and play at grandparents and they understand what she wants now, they also have grown with confidence in using Makaton and have even carried on watching extra Makaton videos to help.

Ava has settled very well into nursery and is thriving. Nursery and the early years staff at the setting have also completed Makaton level 1 and 2, which has been amazing. Ava uses Makaton naturally and is saying the words alongside signing, with many more new words coming, whilst developing new sounds. She tries so hard to repeat a word you say to her and her confidence in talking is growing so much, she is very vocal and jabbers away in her own language a lot now, practicing sounds! It’s so lovely to hear and we’re so happy for her that she finally feels understood. We also feel very proud of her for all the progress she’s made. The future for her communicating doesn’t seem quite so daunting, we’re excited!

Written by Natalie –
Mum of the gorgeous Ava 😊

Author

Natalie

17th November 2023

At home

Special iApps acquisition
12/11/2023

Notice of Special iApps acquisition

 

We would like to announce that The Makaton Charity has successfully acquired the intellectual property rights of Special iApps, a renowned creator of award-winning educational apps. These apps are specially designed to provide support to children with special educational needs, fostering language and communication development.

With Special iApps, users can effortlessly create personalised learning resources in minutes, making it easier for children to access the educational tools they need.

We are excited to continue the legacy of Special iApps and further enhance the impact these remarkable apps have on individual's learning journeys.

Next steps

Our goal is to enhance and modernise the existing Special iApps functionality through updated technology and advancements. We are aiming to relaunch the apps by Summer 2024.

We are delighted to announce that as part of their membership package, all Makaton Members will have exclusive access to the apps. This means that Makaton Members will be able to benefit from the incredible features and educational resources offered by Special iApps, further enriching their membership experience.

Previous Special iApps customers

The apps will also be made available free of charge to previous Special iApps customers for a period of six months. During this time, we encourage users to provide feedback on the development and usability of the apps. This valuable input will help us further improve and refine the apps.

Sharing your data

If you were a previous Special iApps customer and you would rather not have your personal data stored with The Makaton Charity, please email [email protected] and we'll ensure it is removed from our database.

More information regarding these exciting developments will be released later in the year. Makaton has worked closely with the Founders of Special iApps and is committed to continuing and expanding upon the remarkable work they have accomplished.

Stay tuned for more updates on how we will be taking this important work forward!

The Makaton Charity

Published

29th September 2023

News

Makaton in Adult Care
24/08/2023

Makaton in Adult Care

Amy signing at laptop“I wanted to give the adults we support the voice they had lost”

Amy is a Learning Partner at Alternative Futures Group (AFG), one of the largest not-for-profit Health and Social Care charities in the North West. AFG provides person-centred support to people with a range of learning disabilities and mental health conditions.

“Makaton first came on my radar in my previous role at AFG as a Support Worker, when I was told one of the people I supported used it to communicate. I familiarised myself by looking through their support plan and Makaton communication books, but without formal training I had no idea if I was getting it right or not.

I found it really difficult to not be able to communicate with the person I was there to support in the way that they needed.

I later moved into a new role in the Learning and Development team at AFG, where I am responsible for delivering training to our Support Workers and other operational colleagues.

I was still interested in Makaton, so I signed up to a taster session in Chester. I was so inspired by the session that I knew I wanted to become a Tutor myself and bring these skills to my role at AFG. I immediately booked onto my Level 1 and 2 courses, which I completed while also working full time.

What struck me most during these courses was that I was often the only person there from an adult focused background. I knew from my experience how difficult it could be for young people who had learnt to use Makaton as their main method of communication, to then come into an adult care setting where they were not understood and effectively had no voice. I wanted to give the adults we support the voice they had lost - it is a basic need.

I completed my level three Makaton training whist 37 weeks pregnant and my level four with an 8-week-old baby! I was determined.

AFG have been incredibly supportive and allowed me to study for my exams during work time. As an organisation, AFG recognise the positive impact of having support staff upskilled in areas such as Makaton.

I officially qualified as a Tutor in July 2023, and I loved absolutely every second of it.

I am proud to be the charity’s first licensed Makaton Tutor and I am now planning to introduce a ‘Communication Club’ to share learning, resources, and ideas on how to implement Makaton with colleagues who support people who use the language, or have specific communication needs.

I would ultimately love to help AFG to achieve Makaton Friendly status so that we can use it to enhance more people’s lives.”

Click here to find Makaton Training 

 
Author
Amy
23rd August 2023

At work

Dunholme Pre-School
03/07/2023

Dunholme Pre-School

Makaton Friendly CertificateAs the school year draws to a close, let's explore the inspiring story of Dunholme Pre-School, a mainstream primary school in Lincolnshire. 

Their Makaton journey began with a single student, suggested to engage with Makaton to support speech development. The staff's open-minded adoption of Makaton and the ensuing positive change not only transformed their teaching approach but also strengthened their commitment to inclusive education.

In the early stages the staff and students began experimenting with Makaton, and they were instantly able to identify its vast benefits. The positive effects on communication and comprehension led to a unanimous decision: Makaton training for all. Embracing this challenge, the staff has since then incorporated Makaton in their everyday interactions, skillfully utilising signs and symbols within the educational environment.

The Makaton 'Sign of the Week'

This is a particularly popular initiative among the students. Each week, different classes or pupil groups showcase the selected sign, increasing awareness and promoting regular use. Involving students in such participative learning methods has helped cement Makaton as an essential communication tool within the school.

"Makaton is more welcoming to non-verbal children as some of the signs are quite self-explanatory and it makes them feel able to communicate, if they can’t or do not wish to speak" - Gayle Smith, Manager of Dunholme Pre-school

This summer, we celebrate the determination and success of schools like Dunholme Pre-School, who lead by example, making education accessible and engaging for every child.

Click here to find out more about how to become Makaton Friendly 

Author

Dunholme Pre-School

3rd July 2023

At school

Ella’s Makaton Journey
03/07/2023

Ella’s Makaton Journey

Ella signing 'Love'Ella is currently completing her fourth year of Norland training as a Newly Qualified Nanny in North Somerset near Bristol before she earns her professional Norland Nanny status.

My Makaton journey began in 2016, when I worked as a buddy through North Somerset Council providing care for children and young people with additional needs aged 4-16– many of whom used Makaton to communicate. It was then that I was able to witness how truly special Makaton is. Children in my care were able to express themselves independently, which meant that their frustration was eased, and preferences could be communicated. This was such an incredible moment to witness and I knew, there and then, that it was something I wanted to understand and become involved in.

Throughout my Norland training, I continued to develop my newfound passion by completing a Level 1 Makaton course, which I loved!

As a way of utilising the signs I had learnt on my Level 1 course, I began to sign songs and stories to aid my development. I also used Makaton whilst I nannied. It was so lovely to see that the early exposure to signing, in conjunction with speech, led the little people in my care to develop enhanced verbal skills, something I felt honoured to help with! As my confidence grew, I wanted to share this passion. I taught and signed a poem to students from my cohort (known as a set) at Norland, and together we performed to University of Seitoku students who were visiting Norland on a study trip from Japan.

Makaton quickly became one of the most enjoyable and rewarding skills that I have learnt. I started an Instagram account called @nannyellalynne, as a platform where I could share my love of Makaton and connect with others who felt this way.

When the Covid 19 pandemic hit, I produced daily sign videos showing what I had learnt, hoping to inspire others and revise my knowledge.

Knowing and using Makaton has impacted my daily life hugely. I feel proud that, by continuing my development, I have been able to create an open line of communication between myself and all groups of people who I encounter in my life. This is something I feel incredibly proud of.

In my line of work as a nanny, I can now use Makaton with the little people in my care to support them to develop their communication, language, and literacy skills. Signing while speaking has been shown to encourage the development of communication and language skills and, as a caregiver, gives me a greater understanding of the wants and needs of the babies and children in my care, which can help to reduce frustration.

Most recently, I have completed my Level 2 Makaton training, which I have really enjoyed. I cannot wait to complete Levels 3 and 4.

Makaton sign communication is so beautiful and creative and should be recognized for its true potential. For many people signing is their superpower and I, for one, hope more people will engage with this beautiful language and learn a new mode of communication.

Let’s continue to change the world one sign at a time!

Would you like to start or continue your Makaton journey? Click here to find training 

Author

Ella K

3rd July 2023

At work

Summer Special Offer
02/07/2023

Summer Special Offer

10% off selected items: use HOLIDAY10 at checkout
The special offer ended 31st August 2023

We are thrilled to offer you fantastic discounts on selected resources, designed to maximise your Makaton experience this summer!

Until 31st August, you can enjoy a 10% discount on the following selected resources by using our exclusive promo code: HOLIDAY10:

These resources have been thoughtfully chosen to enhance your Makaton journey. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of this exclusive offer and make the most of your summer with Makaton!

Simply use the promo code HOLIDAY10 at checkout:

Screenshot of checkout showing HOLIDAY10 code in the promotional code field

Published

10th July 2023

News

MakaChat Mobile
01/05/2023

Introducing MakaChat Mobile

Makaton symbol for Office Worker

Stay Connected with Makaton Community

Introducing MakaChat Mobile - the ultimate way to stay connected to your Makaton community from your mobile device! With this app, all Makaton members can easily stay up-to-date with the latest discussions, news, and conversations that matter to you. Plus, you can turn on notifications for important updates and effortlessly like, comment, ask questions and answer them in just a few clicks. We're confident that MakaChat Mobile will make it even easier for you to stay connected with your fellow Makaton members, Ambassadors, Tutors, Trainers.

To get started, download the free Connected Community app from the App Store or Google Play. Then, log in to MakaChat by entering community.makaton.org as the domain name prompt and using your regular Makaton username and password. It's that easy! Once you're logged in, you'll be redirected to the app and ready to start chatting.

Sample screen from MakaChat Mobile

MakaChat Mobile is powered by the Connected Community app and provides a range of exciting features to make your experience seamless.  We hope you enjoy using MakaChat Mobile to stay connected with your Makaton community!

Take a tour of the app via our short demos and keep an eye out for more tips and tricks to get the most out of the app:


Not a member yet? Start your free 7-day trial today!

Published

1st May 2023

News

Everyday Vocabulary Flashcards
28/04/2023

Everyday Vocabulary Flashcards

Makaton Vocabulary Flashcards

Makaton Vocabulary FlashcardsWe are thrilled to introduce a brand new item in the Makaton Shop: Everyday Vocabulary Flashcards. A powerful tool for individuals of all ages and abilities to enhance communication and language development. With 37 carefully chosen signs and symbols, these flashcards cover a range of essential everyday words such as 'hello', 'house', 'food', 'toilet', 'book', 'telephone', 'yes', 'no', 'where', 'which', 'what', 'happy' and 'sad'.

Measuring 54mm x 85mm, these durable white PVC cards come with a sturdy metal snap ring for easy storage and organisation. Whether you're a parent, teacher, speech therapist, or caregiver, these flashcards can help support communication and interaction with individuals who have communication difficulties, language delays, or learning disabilities.

These flashcards can be used in a variety of ways to build sentences, initiate conversation, or prompt social interactions. They can also be used in conjunction with other Makaton resources to help develop literacy skills, increase vocabulary, and improve comprehension.

With the Everyday Vocabulary Flashcards, you can help individuals improve their communication skills and build confidence in their ability to express themselves.

Shop now
 

As always, your purchase helps support the valuable work we do at The Makaton Charity to improve communication and understanding for everyone. We are grateful for your continued support.

Published
1st March 2023

News

Willowbank School
21/04/2023

Willowbank School

Willowbank Schol logo

Young boy holding Makaton SymbolsWillowbank School has a diverse community, and our pupils have a wide range of communication needs. We know how important a Total Communication approach is, so it just made sense to embark on the Makaton Friendly journey. Embedding Makaton into school life helps to ensure every child and young person is supported to express themselves and understand their environment. And above all, it’s fun to use for pupils and supporting adults. For us, NOT becoming Makaton Friendly was never really an option!

Makaton helps make connections, deepen relationships and foster trust between our staff and pupils. We love to celebrate success and this includes making a big song and dance whenever a young person uses Makaton. Seeing rich, meaningful communication take place is the ultimate reward and evidences clearly the positive impact of Makaton training.

Ensuring everyone uses signs and symbols everywhere, all the time, means every pupil is respected and included in all areas of school life. We strive to have 100% of our staff trained in Makaton, including teachers, classroom assistants, clerical staff, janitors and catering staff. We have also provided training for our families, social workers, allied health professionals and transport providers. We have Makaton clubs for both primary and secondary pupils and a Makaton display board with signs of the week. Makaton is a normal, everyday, valued part of life at Willowbank and we try to spread this far and wide.

Two female staff members: one signing Biscuit, the other signing CakeI can’t imagine Willowbank School without Makaton. The first group of staff were trained by Margaret Walker in 1979! And all of our staff have continued to be trained in the Makaton Language Programme. Our pupils are more able to make choices, ask questions, share news, re-tell information, and just have fun with their friends! Families are better able to communicate with their children, who are more confident, less frustrated and more engaged in communicating. Makaton makes Willowbank a friendlier, happier, more inclusive school.

If you are interested in becoming Makaton Friendly, just go for it! Get in touch with your Makaton Tutor who will be happy to talk you through the process and support your application. Being Makaton Friendly is a journey, so don’t worry if you don’t feel like you’re 100% there yet. Take it one step at a time. Really embrace training opportunities and encourage your colleagues around you to further their skills and confidence. The more you use signs and symbols, the easier it gets. Being Makaton Friendly is such a good way of showing your commitment to supporting your community.

Find out more about Makaton Friendly

Author

Kris Campbell Caldwell

21st April 2023

At school

Essential Early Years
21/04/2023

Essential Early Years

Young boy sitting on floor playing with Makaton Symbol cards

Essential Early Years logoHello from Essential Early Years!

We are a private day nursery for children aged 0-5 with special needs and we are Makaton Friendly! We would love to tell you all about how we have implemented Makaton consistently across our setting.

Young boy playing with Makaton Symbol cardsYoung girl playing with Makaton Symbol cards
>
 

Essential Early Years opened in September 2020 and began with a very small staff team who had all completed their Level 1 Makaton with the management team having completed Level 2. We very quickly realised the impact that Makaton was having on our children’s communication skills and embedded both sign and symbol into our daily routine. From this point we have included Makaton Level 1 training as part of our induction process for new team members.

Cooking ingredients with their corresponding Makaton SymbolsYoung boy sitting on floor playing with Makaton Symbol cards
 

Staff are trained to use Makaton sign and symbol consistently across the setting; through daily routines, song and story times, offering choice and generally just communicating! We use both visual and talking choice boards across nursery to encourage the use of symbol as well as sign. If a child uses the symbols our amazing team will then model the sign alongside the spoken word. We have also implemented a Makaton sign and symbol of the week which is displayed on our main doors to also encourage community participation – we quite often see people in the community stop at the door and practice the sign of the week!

Our managing director has recently become a Makaton for Babies and Families Trainer and will be delivering this training to staff and families to ensure consistency in communication approaches between home and setting. Being able to support and train parents has deepened the impact on our Makaton interventions as children are being supported consistently both at home and in nursery which has allowed their communication, both verbally and non-verbally, to develop at a faster rate.

Young boy sitting at a table playing with Makaton Symbol cards

We have a Makaton information board in our main entrance which contains lots of valuable information about the benefits of Makaton so we can share and celebrate being Makaton Friendly with families, external agencies and anyone else who visits us! At Christmas we used our social media platforms to create our very own Makaton Advent – full of Christmas signs, modelled by our amazing management team! (Full advent available on our story highlights on Instagram! @essentialearlyyearswirral)

In April 2022 we took part in the National Autistic Society’s Super 7 Fundraising Challenge in which we challenged ourselves to learn 7 new signs in a week! We loved this and used lots of opportunities to learn different, meaningful signs! In November 2022 we had our very first OFSTED inspection in which we were graded OUTSTANDING and the inspector commented on our use of Makaton within the report – “Staff use tools such as Makaton signing to provide precise support to the children as they make remarkable progress from being non-verbal to forming short sentences. Parents of children with SEND are in awe of the level of progress their children are making, saying 'the nursery has saved their lives'.” (full report available: Ofsted | Essential Early Years)

A mother signing with her young daughterA young boy signing as he looks out of a window
 

Kind Regards

Lynnette Bonner's signature

Lynnette Bonner
Managing Director

Author

Lynnette Bonner

21st April 2023

At school

Rui’s Makaton Story
21/04/2023

Rui’s Makaton Story

Kaley, Rui, and Nick

KaleyIn honour of Neurodiversity celebration week, I wanted to share with you why this following quote from Ignacio Estrada really resonates with me:

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”

When my son, Rui, was one years old, he was diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay (GDD). GDD is an early onset chronic neurological condition. It’s an umbrella term used when children are significantly delayed in multiple areas of development such as motor skills, speech, cognitive and social and emotional development.

Rui was delayed, and still is in some areas, reaching his developmental milestones. He crawled at 22 months, walked at 26 months, and was able to jump recently at the age of four, but is still preverbal, not having spoken a single word yet or consistently made any symbolic sounds.

When Rui was two, my husband, Nick, and I had some advice to try using Makaton. Makaton is a communication tool which uses signs and symbols that supports the development of essential communication skills such as attention and listening, comprehension, memory, recall and organisation of language and expression. When using Makaton, you always speak while you sign or use symbols to make the link between the sign/symbol and the spoken word.

Putting myself in Rui’s shoes; every day he can’t say how he is feeling, tell me if he’s hungry, if he’s in pain, or if he wants to play. I could also see that other children didn’t want to play with him at times. What did they get out of playing with Rui who didn’t understand their games or was not able to speak back to them. It would break my heart and as his Mom I needed to try everything I could to get him heard, be understood, and feel included. I’d already picked some Makaton up from the CBeebies TV programme ‘Something Special’ and enjoyed learning it from that, but now I had a real reason to implement it at home. We hoped it would hopefully reduce Rui’s frustrations and regular meltdowns while we wait for the speech to come.

Learning Makaton

Kaley, Ryi, and NickTo start with, learning Makaton was a daunting task. I put a lot of pressure on us as parents to get it right. I wanted to learn all the signs in a short space of time, but Rui was so little and unsurprisingly not interested in taking note of what I was trying to teach him yet, so then it began to feel like an impossible task and at times, a waste of time.

Keen to stick with it, we took some of the pressure off and focused on five key functional Makaton signs, and consistently used them for a year. It wasn’t until Rui was three, he began to show an interest in watching my hands and then one day he just signed ‘milk’ back to me. It was amazing! This was my preverbal child telling me something that he wanted without crying or pointing for the very first time. I was elated. He’d worked out he can ask for something and someone understands what he is communicating. He is being heard! Soon after ‘milk’, he learnt to sign ‘more’ and then ‘snack’. We were making progress.

With Rui now showing some interest in Makaton, Nick and I, along with Nanny and Grandad, as well as Rui’s key workers at nursery, signed up to complete a Level 1 and Level 2 Makaton course. It was Tuesday nights for the next 10 weeks, but it would be so important for us as a family and potentially Rui’s future. Empowered with the learnings from the course, we gradually implemented more Makaton signs into our day-to-day activities with Rui, and his Makaton vocabulary has been growing ever since. Around Rui’s 4th birthday, five months ago, Rui signed ‘Mommy’ for the first time. Having never heard him say Mommy, something that I use to long for, it really melted my heart. I love that Makaton has provided us a means to communicate with Rui. It’s helped Rui understand routines, feel understood and ultimately helped him feel included. His temperament has really changed over the last year too. He is much calmer (he can still get upset and we have the very occasional meltdown) but he has shown huge developments in his intellectual understanding. It has really blown us away.

Rui is such a happy, playful, and cheeky boy. He can now use Makaton to play games, and joke around with us. His speech development is always going to be a slow journey, but he’s recently made some symbolic sounds and is attempting new sounds with his mouth, which is progress. He is now also having speech and language therapy.

Because Makaton has brought so much joy into our family life, earlier this year, Nick and I started an Instagram account called ‘Parents_Who_Makaton’ (@parents_who_makaton), so we can share what we’ve learnt with easy to digest, bitesize video clips. If we can help even just one family experiencing a similar situation it would just be so wonderful.

We sadly don’t live in a world where everyone knows Makaton, but it’s great to raise awareness (something I’m very passionate about) and to share stories of other ways some children and adults need to communicate. I still hope Rui will be able to speak one day for his own overall development and wellbeing, but the thought of him never finding his spoken voice doesn’t worry me as much anymore, because I know there there are more and more people and businesses out there willing to be more inclusive, trying to make positive change, and see learning difficulties as learning differences.

So how I relate to the Ignacio Estrada quote is that my child can’t speak the way we speak, so let’s communicate another way. And we do!

Author

Kaley Gent

Operations and Delivery Manager

21st April 2023

At home

Important Membership changes
22/03/2023

Important changes to Makaton membership

Four women signing Good

The Makaton Charity have made the decision to remove Standard membership and going forwards Premium membership will be the only paid membership type we provide. Through extensive user feedback, we have learned that members want access to a wider range of content and not be limited to a small selection of vocabulary and resources. We want to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all our members and providing them with the best possible experience.

We have made this decision based on our commitment to providing high quality products and services. After careful consideration, we have come to the conclusion that the Standard membership does not offer best value for money. We believe that the Premium membership does this more successfully.

Premium membership offers 24/7 digital access to all of the Makaton vocabulary, with 40,000+ symbols, signs and videos to support your everyday needs. You can download your favourite content for easy offline access.

Premium membership includes everyday vocabulary plus Animals, Food and Drink, People (work, leisure and  public services), Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE), Transport and Vehicles, School and Education, and Sex Education.

In addition to vocabulary, we have a wide range of resources available including Games and Activities, Festivals and Celebrations, Inclusive Greetings Cards, Health Communication, Nursery Rhymes and Stories, Sporting Events and much more. We are continuously adding resources on a monthly basis to keep the content as engaging and relevant as possible.

MakaChat is our vibrant online community where members can ask the experts, for advice and guidance. The community allows peer-to-peer support for your everyday communication and learning disability questions.

With Premium membership you can broaden your experience with exclusive Member Events. Meet like-minded people and build on your Makaton knowledge from a diverse array of subject topics.

Premium membership can be accessed for just £9.99 per month, our best value membership product is our Group membership providing 4 logins for only £11.99 per month (£3 per person).

Start your free 7-day trial today

Published
22nd March 2023

News

From Baby Signing to Talking Teenager (Part 1)
13/03/2023

From Baby Signing to Talking Teenager (Part 1)

About us

Dean family Our family Makaton journey probably first started over 20 years ago when I explored signing for babies after my elder son was born. We then delved further as our younger son William arrived 5 years later. William has Down syndrome, autism plus several medical conditions. He has a hearing loss and has been wearing hearing aids since a baby.

Like many parents we learned Makaton to use at home. I recall we started to sign quite early on with William, then stopped as I couldn’t see William signing back and got quite disheartened. Other kids we knew around his age were picking up signs faster and doing better than him but they did not have his complex health issues going on. We watched Mr Tumble and Singing Hands together then I restarted doing more with him having attended Makaton training and feeling empowered and encouraged by parents of older children who recommended to just keep going. William started to sign, but at a slower pace and in his own way. Makaton and signing remain a big part of his life today as his speech development has been slow. We rely on a mixture of speech, signs and written words. Our use of Makaton has switched focus as he’s grown older to be more age related, be around encouraging communication, choices as well as preparing for adulthood.

My family is the one behind Special iApps C.I.C. specialiapps.org as we’ve been developing educational apps for children with a wide range of special educational needs and disabilities since 2011. During the coronavirus pandemic we started working closely with The Makaton Charity and you can read more about this here Special iApps Collaboration, and also what Sarah and Alfie sarahthemakatontutor.com thought of the The Makaton and Special iApps partnership.

If you’d want to introduce Makaton and are looking for tips, then I’d repeat the advice given to me a long time ago.

  • Make it fun, as we all learn more if we enjoy the experience
  • Take it easy, introduce one sign at a time that is meaningful to your family then practice and pace yourself
  • Use it daily, and incorporate throughout your day weaving signs within your routines
  • Keywords, pick out those key words and signs you need for your child you can then build them up to use more together as your child grows and develops
  • Repetition, repetition, repetition, practice, practice and practice
  • Find a signing buddy, as it’s good to share with someone going through the same thing at the same time and these friendships can last a while, even a lifetime!
  • One more thing I would add is that your child and your family are unique. Don’t compare. It’s hard not to as we as parents do, but each child is different. You will get a lot of advice from others (both parents and professionals), some of which may just fit into place, others might not. Never be afraid to try, and if you do stop or pause then take a break but do try again. Always give things a second chance and find your own pace that works for your family.

    At the very start we learned a handful of signs as and when we needed them and learned more as time went on and William progressed. Over the years I’ve met families whose children signed in their early years and then stopped as they started to talk. For us, with William, it’s been the long haul. Signing is still part of our daily lives seventeen years on as we use it when we need to. Makaton isn’t just for babies but for adults too and covers all aspects of life as children grow into teenagers and then into adulthood. There are some fantastic resources available these days, much more than when we first started our journey. I continue to find new things to do with Makaton and find new resources and realise that there was a lot I didn’t know which I wish I did when he was younger and can also see a lot more that is available and that we can use with him now. Learning is lifelong, so we continue our journey…

    Beverley Dean MBE, Founder of Special iApps C.I.C.
    specialiapps.org
    [email protected]

    See also

Author

Beverley Dean MBE

13th March 2023

At home

Supporting English as an Additional Language
01/03/2023

Supporting English as an Additional Language

EAL board
 

EAL boardThe majority of the pupils at a one form entry school in Newbury, Berkshire, have English as an additional language, with families from all over the world, making this a very special and unique educational setting.

Holly was a teacher in year 3 in the Autumn term, with a class of 32 children. While most of the ‘EAL’ pupils did not appear to have a language barrier as such in this particular cohort, there was one pupil who stood out more than the rest, who would slip behind but not reach out for help, who was kind and caring but quiet. For the sake of this blog, she will be referred to as Pupil A.

Resources

We used Makaton to sign ‘good morning’ and ‘good afternoon’ every day in class. Pupil A picked this up very quickly, leading her to be more responsive and confident during the register. Signing just these two concepts daily made a significant difference to Pupil A, who would gradually start to contribute a little more in class, start conversations and make links, building on her comprehension and inference skills.

Makaton symbols were used to support story maps of the text we were using in literacy and I would sign the story to the class, which all of the pupils enjoyed joining in with. Using the symbols with the signs further helped Pupil A to sequence the stories, creating her own story maps and innovating ideas in order to write her own version.

Communication boards

Holly’s teaching assistant and school ELSA, Sian Howard, worked with Pupil A in year 2 as well as year 3. After speaking with Sian, it became clear that since introducing Makaton signs and symbols, Pupil A has made significant progress with reading and writing as well as her making links through the movement of gesture as the connections were being made with her speech and recall.

Since returning from the Christmas holidays Pupil A continues to sign 'good morning ' and 'good afternoon'. It has been noted that her spoken English has become clearer and more confident. Makaton is used for Pupil A as much as possible in the classroom setting, for example, during a Spanish lesson on animals the sign for each animal was demonstrated to Pupil A in both Spanish and English. Pupil A finds Spanish challenging but did her best to follow the new vocabulary. After the lesson Sian went through the signs with her in English, Pupil A joined in with the signing, finding it easy to communicate using both her hands and her speech, and after felt confident enough to tell Sian a story about a cat she stroked.

Author

Holly Cannon-Taylor and Sian Howard

1st March 2023

At school

Ledley Hall awarded Makaton Friendly Silver
01/03/2023

Ledley Hall awarded Makaton Friendly Silver

Pictured left to right: The High Sheriff of Belfast, Councillor John Kyle; Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Michelle Kelly; Makaton Regional Tutor Grant Wetherall; Ledley Hall Committee Member Reggie Morrow; Ledley Hall Chairman Harold Jacobs; and Andy Allen MLA.Belfast’s cross-community youth centre Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club has become the first organisation in Northern Ireland to be accredited with the Makaton Friendly Silver award for outstanding commitment to communication inclusion training.

A special ceremony took place on Friday 17 February to mark the occasion. Guests included Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Michelle Kelly; the High Sheriff of Belfast, Councillor John Kyle; and Andy Allen MLA.

The Makaton Friendly Silver award is bestowed on organisations which have achieved a consistent set of criteria relating to staff training and Makaton accessibility in their public areas. Over a seven-year period Ledley Hall has completed Levels 1 - 4 of the Makaton training programme fulfilling the requirement to earn this prestigious Award.

Ledley Hall has worked with Makaton Tutor Grant Wetherall, of sign language training company SignSimply, to train leaders, parents, volunteers and boys and girls, many of whom have varying degrees of communication challenges.

Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Michelle Kelly said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Ledley Hall to be the first youth club in Northern Ireland to receive this tremendous award. It is truly a credit to East Belfast.”

Michelle Fullerton, Ledley Hall Youth Worker in Charge, said: “Over the last seven years we have made significant investment in our work to be actively inclusive, identifying the need to become trained in Makaton to ensure effective communication and inclusion for all our members. We are now in the fortunate position where all Ledley Hall staff, as well as some of our volunteers and parents, are trained to Level 4 in Makaton.”

Makaton Regional Tutor Grant Wetherall said: “Over the past seven years I have enjoyed working with Ledley Hall to realise their goal of making communication accessible for all. I am delighted that their dedication and hard work has now paid off and they can be recognised as an example to all NI organisations who seek equity of inclusion.”

Find out more about Makaton Friendly

Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club
1st March 2023

Out and about

Spring Taster Sessions
27/02/2023

Spring Taster Sessions

Amica signing chick

I am pretty sure all Makaton tutors love delivering training – seeing participants engaging, practising, collaborating, and having ‘lightbulb moments’ is such a buzz!

In addition to the formal Levels 1 through to 4, lots of us deliver something called a Makaton Taster workshop. This is exactly what it says on the packet; a little ‘taster’ of information about what Makaton is, who uses it, the benefits and aims as well as teaching a handful of signs.

I have really enjoyed working in collaboration with Elklan to deliver some of these online workshops based on Spring. Not only have these Taster Sessions raised awareness of Makaton and got participants started on their Makaton learning journey, but they have also made me feel properly spring like! How lovely for everyone to learn the sign for ‘chick’ (definitely one of my absolute favourites!) and sunshine! Guaranteed to put a smile on your face this Spring.

Tutor and Ambassador Amica Davies

Click here to search for Makaton Training in your area 

Author

Amica Davies

27th February 2023

At work

MakaHike Accessible for All
11/01/2023

MakaHike: Accessible for All

       

Ditchling

Our first MakaHike in 2021 was on Snowdon, last year Ben Nevis and this year one will be on Scafell Pike, but we are really keen to make one accessible for all, both in terms of terrain, challenge and geography.

Come and join us in the South Downs, Ditchling area, on Saturday 1st July 2023 to raise funds for The Makaton Charity. Afterwards there will be a Makaton concert led by Singing Hands to celebrate our achievement and promote the wonderful work of The Makaton Charity. Light refreshments will be available

The main walk will be 5.5 miles on accessible bridleways, suitable for wheelchairs/pushchairs. There is also a 3 miles option. The walk will start around 1pm

The cost of your place will be £17.00 for adults £8 for 2-16yrs and free for U2s, this is paid direct to the event organiser: Richard Fish Outdoor Adventures (RFOA). This entrance fee includes experienced and qualified mountain leaders, all the organisation, first aid cover, public liability insurance and a Makaton T-shirt.

All participants are asked to raise a minimum sponsorship amount of £50.

We anticipate this event will be very popular and numbers will be capped due to the amount of space in the hall for the Singing Hands concert and to ensure the walk is managed effectively. Book early!

Are you ready for the challenge? Email [email protected] for the application form.

Published

11th January 2023

News

From Baby Signing to Talking Teenager (Part 3)
10/01/2023

From Baby Signing to Talking Teenager (Part 3)

William’s signing journey

Dean family As parents of a child who has Down syndrome, we were advised to learn to sign and start signing with William when he was just a few months old. The message was the same from other parents that we met in support groups as well as the professionals involved in William’s early intervention program.

We attended Makaton training, checking out our local library for resources, as well as buying and borrowing resources. Adding resources to his Christmas, Easter and Birthday present lists for families and friends to buy.

At the beginning we started to incorporate signing as a family at home and when out and about. Just a few key signs to start with such as “milk”, “drink”, “mummy” and “William”. I printed Makaton Symbols and put them around the house, so the toilet door had symbols and words for ‘toilet’ and ‘nappy’ (it still does today!). Sometimes this acted as a prompt for me to remember to sign during the day, not just for his benefit to see the symbol and word, but mine as well.

Something Special with Mr Tumble was new to CBeebies. In one episode we saw Singing Hands for the first time. We bought Mr Tumble and Singing Hands DVDs and signed up to local Makaton training. We also had in our collection Makaton Nursery Rhymes by Dave Benson Phillips and added Shabang and other resources as we found them. We would watch DVDs together, and so learned signs largely through songs and nursery rhymes at home as this was a really good way to repeat the actions and remember them. We joined Singing & Signing sessions with other children who had Down syndrome.

William was slow to sign, when he started he would make signs up. Many kids do. I recall we went to a Pantomime arranged by Down syndrome North East when William was just starting to sign himself. At the theatre as we sat down in our row, he started to repeatedly sign Gorilla. We were confused. There was no Gorilla at this pantomime. It hadn’t even started. Then it dawned on us. We were watching Cinderella and William did not know the sign for Cinderella, so he used what he thought best. A sign he did know from what the word sounded like. He was hearing the word endings where ‘Gor-illa’ was like ‘Cinder-ella’. We clapped and cheered and celebrated William’s drive and initiative to communicate to us, as it was one sign that came from nowhere, probably the only sign he had made that day! It’s much easier these days to check what signs are for new words you encounter and check signs that you don’t know or are not sure of as you can easily look them up on your phone. We asked other parents what the correct sign for Cinderella was. We then repeated the right sign to use and repeated it over and over again. We then went a further step, stringing more signs together to support the transition and re-enforcement. ‘Yes’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Good’. William would sign back ‘Gorilla’ ‘Good’ accompanied by a big smile on his face. It turned out to be a little while before Cinderella was not a Gorilla in our house. His speech therapist was amused but told us that he needed to use a sign or say a word correctly more times than he did incorrectly to reinforce, associate and remember the right one.

Another time that springs to mind was when we visited a friend, and William kept signing ‘fountain’. He was obsessed with water and fountains. We were confused as could not see a fountain and explained we were indoors, there was no fountain, putting it down to his obsession. Then from the corner of my eye I realised I was in the wrong, as saw an ornament that was indeed a fountain, battery operated complete with flowing water sitting on the windowsill slightly hidden by the curtain. I quickly learned to watch and wait before correcting William’s signs. He was seeing the world differently to me, so sometimes when I didn’t understand his signs, or they didn’t make sense in context the best thing was to wait and observe him and our surroundings, by looking at what he was gazing at often at his eye-level and where his focus or attention lay. He was starting to sign to communicate and needed positive encouragement, so I needed to learn patience before jumping to conclusions.

Children are like sponges. It wasn’t just me and William learning Makaton but also William’s elder brother Joseph who would sign to his baby brother and me. He is a very good Makaton signer today as has kept up and regularly practices. When they are together, they talk a lot about what they have been doing and use Makaton throughout. It’s important everyone around William knows Makaton. William had a new PA (personal assistant). She attended Makaton training after supporting him for a few months. It was interesting talking afterwards as she had thought William was making quite a few hand gestures but having been on training realised he was talking to her using sign language. It’s made a big difference in them understanding each other.

Looking back now, incorporating signing into our life has empowered William to communicate with his hands. We believe it has reduced frustration and has also developed his communication skills. He doesn’t sign everything perfectly and he doesn’t always sign but when we struggle to understand each other we fall back to signing and we can communicate and understand each other. He has a very large bank of signs today and can remember and sign practically anything you ask when prompted by saying ‘What’s the sign for…?’ I’m often impressed with what he has remembered and the breadth of his knowledge.

We are not at the start of our journey anymore, if you are I would say that at first it can be hard work. You may have a new baby, and this is a life changing experience. All babies are different and if yours has medical conditions then that adds to the load. Supporting a child with sign language may at times seem like a steep learning curve. Remember everyone is learning something new as you and your baby learn together. Everyone is adding something new to their daily routine, if it gets too much step back and take it one step at a time. Taking up signing and using it in your day-to-day life does need commitment, especially when your child isn’t signing back but I’d say stick to it as it can take a long time before you see the rewards. I agree with what others said to me when I was at the beginning of our journey. Be persistent, practice and start off with small manageable steps. There was a long time when we signed to William, but he didn’t sign back. He watched and understood us but did not sign himself as did not have the fine or gross motor skills to do so. I’m really pleased we persisted, believe me there were times when I wondered if it was worth it and times that I did stop and pause, but then we picked it up again. Now, I know the positive benefits Makaton has had for him and how it continues to do so. Makaton still has a place in his life with our new perception as a teenager. It’s helping him transition into adult life, continue developing speech and communication, life skills and independence, enjoy singing and signing and this happens both at home and at school since he's in a Special School 6th Form.

Beverley Dean MBE, Founder of Special iApps C.I.C.
specialiapps.org
[email protected]

See also

Author

Beverley Dean MBE

3rd March 2023

At home

Makaton story time with Ian
10/01/2023

Makaton story time with Ian

I have been tutoring Ian, 53, since February.

Ian has autism and has minimal speech, which can be unclear to those unfamiliar to him. Since February, we have been exploring Makaton symbols with an aim for Ian to be using them as a communication aid to help build his independent communication when out and about.

We introduced the symbols through story spoons for the characters in Room on the Broom. I would read the story and sign each character, to which Ian would then match sign to the story spoon. Over time, Ian added sound effects for the animals as he became more confident with the use of them. Recognising symbols through stories has been effective for Ian and he now recognises a range of them.

Since the video was filmed, we have moved on the exploring how the witch feels at various parts of the story, using the Makaton symbols for each emotion. We have then linked the emotions to how Ian feels. He now accepts that it is good to feel sad, angry and worried as well happy in different situations.

Ian also has a lanyard with emotions and of interests that he uses to request and as conversation starters.

Holly Cannon Taylor

Author
Holly Cannon Taylor
10th January 2023

At work

From Baby Signing to Talking Teenager (Part 2)
10/01/2023

From Baby Signing to Talking Teenager (Part 2)

Baby signing is for any child

William as a babyOur eldest son, Joseph, was born in 1999. It was when he was around 6 months old that I first encountered and learnt about baby signing. I vividly recall being in my kitchen, standing at the counter as I prepared his lunch watching him as he sat in his highchair and talking to him throughout. But something was different. This was the first time I saw him frustrated. As I made lunch, I talked away to him (as usual) but he was getting quite agitated, becoming more and more frustrated which was so unusual for him. Normally he would be happily playing and watching me whilst I prepared our lunch. A number of things were going through my head, “was he starving and just couldn’t wait?”, “was he thirsty?”, “did he want something different to eat?”, “did he want a toy?”, “did he need a nappy change?”, “was he too hot? or too cold?”, “did he have a pain?”, “was he ill?”…

I talked. He got more frustrated. I then started picking things up to show him so I could see his reaction. “Are you thirsty?” as I held his bottle. “Are you hungry?” as I held a banana, then showing him his teddy and toy car it was obvious didn't want either neither... I repeatedly asked, “What do you want?”, and he repeatedly pointed elsewhere making frustrated babbling noises. It was obvious that he wanted something, but I simply did not know what and could not work it out. I couldn’t see quite what he was pointing at and did not understand his babbling. It was frustrating for us both. In the end I gave up, took him out of his highchair, put him in his pushchair and we went for a long walk.

I just didn't understand what he was trying to communicate, it saddened me as I had snapped and said, ‘Just talk to me!’ which was unrealistic expecting him to be able to talk at his age. I mulled it all over in my mind as I pushed his buggy. I had previously read an article on baby signing and decided to explore further when I got home. Research I did and yes it confirmed signing was a fantastic way to communicate early with babies before they developed speech. Joseph didn’t have a learning difficulty; in fact he was the opposite (as we later found out that he was gifted and talented). At the time we did not know this, I was a new mum and simply wanted to try signing with him so that we could communicate. It made sense, so I bought a book, learnt a few basic signs, “eat”, “banana”, “milk”, “drink” and eagerly started. As the months past we incorporated signing into our routine and had fun together. Joseph started to talk, our need to use sign language dwindled so quickly phased out of our lives as his speech was rapidly developing. I gave the signing book to a friend who was intrigued by learning more about baby signing as at the time it was a relatively new concept. Remember this was over 20 years ago.

I didn't think about baby signing until five years later. We knew William our younger son had Down syndrome before he was born. Knowing this allowed us to do a bit of background reading before he arrived. A friend pushed a flyer through my door about a conference organised by our local Down syndrome parent support group. We registered for the event when I was pregnant and attended it when William was just 3 months old. Signing was on the agenda, and it brought back a few memories, so I was quite keen to start again from scratch with both my boys. This time with an older sibling to try things out on was a bonus!

The message was clear. Research showed that children with Down syndrome benefit from a signing environment and that using sign does not delay speech development. Engaging in any form of communication and language will help with brain development. Both professionals and parents we met endorsed this from their experience with their own children. We learned that speech development varies from child to child and as spoken words develop, children start to replace signing with spoken words and transitions from sign to speech. “Couldn't be easier“, I thought at the time, but second time round would turn out to be a very different experience for me as I wasn’t using it to support communication with an able gifted and talented child but with one who had a learning difficulty and complex needs.

William started his early intervention program around 4 months. He was in and out of hospital has had several operations. We started to have input from his Speech Therapist and his Portage worker as well as his Physio once settled at home. William was then diagnosed with a severe hearing impairment, so we met his Teacher of the Deaf who directed us again to Makaton. William got his first pair of hearing aids to wear which we knew from his reaction to sounds worked. He wasn’t hearing much if at all without them. He wore them daily and the message from everyone was the same “Learn to sign and start signing to him now. It’s best if everyone in the family learned to sign. Don’t give up as he will take longer to sign back to you”.

You can read about how William progressed with learning to signing as a baby and as he grew up to be a teenager in Part 3 .

Beverley Dean MBE, Founder of Special iApps C.I.C.
specialiapps.org
[email protected]

See also

Author

Beverley Dean MBE

13th March 2023

At home

Lynda Matthews
09/01/2023

Lynda Matthews

Lynda Matthews

The Makaton Charity would like to express our deep sadness at the passing of Lynda Matthews at the age of 90. Some of you may have known her personally from the early days of Makaton, and it's clear from talking with Margaret and others who worked with her that she played a pivotal role in deploying the Makaton Language Programme. Without her passion, expertise and enthusiasm, today's Charity would not be the success it is.

A tribute from Margaret Walker:

It is with great fondness and respect that I will remember Lynda, as will many Makaton Tutors and work colleagues. She was the very first Makaton Training Officer, being appointed in the early 1980’s, just as interest in the Makaton Language Programme was increasing from all over the UK, and the need to provide relevant training was growing.

These were the pioneering days, when a small group of professionals including Lynda, joined me, not just to provide Makaton training, but to design and formalise the actual courses to suit the differing needs of parents, carers and a wide range of professionals. Lynda worked tirelessly so that we could provide a network of highly trained Makaton Tutors across the UK and many will remember her for the support and encouragement she gave them.

When interest in Makaton came from other countries, it was Lynda who joined me to take up the challenge, in countries as different as Norway, the USA, Kuwait and India.

I will always be grateful to Lynda for the personal loyalty and support that she gave me throughout and the invaluable contribution she made to the Makaton Charity.

Margaret Walker MBE
Founder of Makaton

Published

9th January 2023

News

Conwy Connect
09/01/2023

Conwy Connect

Conwy Connect

Conwy Connect spent a busy few weeks really getting festive with Makaton!

Our Makaton choir consists of members with learning disabilities and their parents / carers. It was established 4 years ago and has gone from strength to strength. Our inspiration comes from the amazing Suzanne and Tracey, 'Singing Hands'.

The Choir was invited to perform at Conwy Culture Winter Sounds event, following which were then asked to perform at an all-inclusive church event for the Archbishop of Wales. The choir performed beautifully.

The Choir was started by Michele Pipe, and over the last few years over zoom and face to face we have watched communication develop and signs become clearer. We are so proud of them all!

 

Non L
9th January 2023

Out and about

Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club
09/01/2023

Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club

Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club logo

Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club is a youth centre based in Inner East Belfast, operating in the community since 1942 we have very strong links and are in the privileged position of delivering youth services to young people aged 5-25 years. The young people choose to come to us and it is this voluntary participation at the heart of youth work practice which makes the interventions we make with our young people and the relationships that we have unique to those with other professionals.

Over the last seven years we have made significant investment in our work to be actively inclusive, identifying the need to become trained in Makaton to ensure effective communication and inclusion of all of our membership. We are now in the fortunate position where all of our staff are trained to level 4 in Makaton as well as some of our volunteer team and parents. We have regular refreshers with our Makaton tutor Grant to keep us up to date.

We have purchased the Makaton Vocabulary CD’s which allow us to produce signage etc for around the centre. We operate sign and symbol of the week which is headed up by our Makaton Champion, we also have signage around the centre in Makaton, our safeguarding materials are displayed in a Makaton and easy read format and our Youth Worker in Charge has completed the Makaton Safeguarding Workshop. We not only use Makaton as a way of communicating with and providing an inclusive environment for Makaton users but we have also used Makaton to help develop the communication of our junior members through the use of songs, rhymes and at one point we had a Makaton choir.

Workshop ManualsOur plans for the incoming year are to work both on our own inclusion projects but also to work with our Makaton Tutor Grant Wetherall to share our knowledge and experience of developing the use of Makaton within the youth centre to others that Grant has recently trained by hosting them at our centre and showcasing the work that we do.

Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club
9th January 2023

Out and about

St Columb’s College
09/01/2023

St. Columb’s College

 

Pupils at St. Columb’s College

Hello, my name is Ana. I am from Spain but I live in Derry, Northern Ireland. My first memories of Makaton come from a video tape that I ordered when my daughter was recuperating from her heart surgery back in 2002. It was a video tape of Makaton Nursery Rhymes with Dave Benson Philips. My daughter was so poorly that I was never offered any formal training. They considered it an “unviable option” as there were little resources and they were only offered to those who were going to benefit most from the training...

Fast forward to June 2021, when despite the pandemic, lock-downs, remote teaching, remote learning, adjusting to the reality of having my daughter living in a residential setting, I qualified as Makaton Tutor. I did the Tutor Training via zoom. I was so lucky not only because my tutors were Zanna Finnerty and Tracy Clark but also because I met some of the most wonderful Makaton tutors: my fellow trainees. I found the whole experience both enriching and terrifying. (I didn’t know what zoom was until my tutor training and discovered that you can actually set the camera on top of the screen... )To this day, I meet regularly with my fellow tutors and we have become close friends. We practise; pick each other brains and we are hoping to meet in person one of these days...

As well as being a mum to a young lady with a rare chromosome disorder and a wonderful adolescent son, I am a full-time Modern Languages teacher in St. Columb’s College Grammar School. I wanted to become a tutor so that I could train the carers in my daughter’s setting, to show parents with children with special needs that we can do whatever we set our minds to, that there is hope; but I also wanted to bring Makaton to a main-stream setting. It is so important that everyone knows Makaton so that they can use it with those who rely on it as their way of communication.

I use Makaton everyday when I am greeting my colleagues and students, in the classroom when I am teaching, with my daughter... She is non-verbal but understands English, Spanish and Makaton and uses a Total Communication approach to get her point across.

I feel privileged that my workplace, St. Columb’s College, has incorporated Makaton Training as part of the Social Education Programme for our Year 13 students (formerly known as Lower Sixth). Every single year 13 student attends a Makaton Taster. Furthermore, as part of their Curriculum Enrichment, they also have the opportunity to do the Makaton Workshop Level 1.

I am so proud that nine of these young men have already achieved their Makaton Level 1; I am currently in the process of training another group of eleven students. These young men embraced Makaton and have learnt so much. They will be applying for part-time jobs, summer schemes, to work in voluntary organisations... They will be able to use what they have learnt in our wider community.

I firmly believe that education is the key. The more people that know Makaton the more inclusive society will become. When I train these young men, as part of the workshop, I talk about my own experience, about my daughter, about how a parent might feel when their child is not included or how a child might feel when he/she does not have the chance to make their voice heard.

Makaton makes it possible for everyone to build a better society. I love the core values of Makaton. I feel it is my duty as an educator and my privilege as a parent of a child with special needs to make sure that I spread the word. Makaton changes lives, not only the lives of those with special needs and/or communication difficulties but of everyone!

Author

Ana María Valadez Peña

9th January 2023

At school

Countdown to Christmas Highlights 2022
08/01/2023

Countdown to Christmas Highlights 2022

Mother and son taking part in Countdown to Christmas 2022

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

8th January 2023

News

MakaHike 2023
11/11/2022

MakaHike 2023

Scafell Pike        

Scafell PikeMakaHike '21 was Snowdon (the highest mountain in Wales); Makahike '22 was Ben Nevis (the highest in Scotland)… introducing MakaHike '23, the highest in England, Scafell Pike.

Standing at 3209ft Scafell Pike's summit is the highest point in England, with beautiful views of the lake district, rolling hills and valleys come and join us supported by a team of qualified mountain leaders on this ‘bucket list’ challenge! We will be climbing Scafell Pike from Wasdale. The journey there and back is 9km.

Come and join us in the Lake District, to the summit of Scafell Pike, on Saturday 22nd April 2023, to raise funds for The Makaton Charity. At the top there will be a Makaton ‘sing and sign’, again led by Suzanne Miell-Ingram from Singing Hands to celebrate our achievement and promote the wonderful work of The Makaton Charity.

Are you ready for the challenge? Cost is £49.00 per person with a minimum fundraising target £150. Email [email protected] for the application form.

Seven MakaHikers on Ben Nevis in 2022
Published

18th October 2022

News

Include Choir receives Queen’s Award
08/11/2022

The Include Choir receives Queen’s Award 

From a crazy idea to a Queen’s Award

The Include Choir signing PeaceWhat if...

…I left my job as a safeguarding lead in the NHS, trained as a Makaton Tutor and set up a charity which combined my speech and language therapy training and creative skills to teach and raise awareness of inclusive communication. That was the thought stuck in my head while on maternity leave in 2016.

It was a daft idea, leaving the security of the NHS to work unpaid in a sector I knew nothing about. But the thought refused to go away; I had seen the lack of support for people with communication disabilities and the devastating impact that has on people’s lives:

  • as a speech and language therapist working with adults with learning disabilities and autism
  • as a safeguarding lead working with vulnerable adults with dementia, aphasia or other communication needs
  • as a daughter and granddaughter when my Dad had a brain tumour and my Grandpa had a stroke

The Include ChoirBut was it sensible to leave a regular income and strike out into uncharted territory, especially with young children?

Of course it wasn’t. But if breaking my neck and back six years earlier has taught me anything, it is that life is for living - and I knew that I would regret it if I didn’t try.

The Include Choir at NHS conference

Fast forward another six years, and Include.org is now a registered charity, based in Surrey, with a small staff team and over 50 volunteers working to provide community activities which promote Makaton signing and another inclusive communication skills. We raise awareness of communication needs in schools and businesses and provide training to help ensure that people with understanding and speaking difficulties get the support they need and deserve.

With the support of our volunteers, we run outdoor inclusive communication sessions, create easy read resources and devise training with our members. We now have not one, but two Include Choirs, which use Makaton signs, symbols, objects and more to make sure our members with communication needs are fully included and empowered.

Our volunteer team includes people with learning disabilities and autism who use or have used Makaton themselves - and without exception, we were all absolutely delighted to discover we’d been chosen to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this year.

Queen's Award for Voluntary Service logoThe Queen’s Award is described as the MBE for volunteer groups and, due to the sad death of Queen Elizabeth II, we are one of very last UK charities to receive it, making it even more special. We look forward to proving ourselves worthy of this honour and reaching even more people with Makaton and inclusive communication in 2023.

If you would like to support include.org in our mission, any donation made between 29th November and 6th December via The Big Give Challenge Website will be doubled! Needed more than words alone can say (thebiggive.org.uk)

For more information about Include.org please email [email protected] or visit www.include.org

Author

Alix L

8th November 2022

Out and about

Grant Wetherall – Tutor for 26 years
07/11/2022

Grant Wetherall – Tutor for 26 Years 

GrantMy quest to become a Regional Tutor for Makaton began in 1994 when I was a student social worker in London investigating an abuse case in a care home. I quickly discovered that all the residents could sign, and I couldn’t. Makaton was such a powerful communication tool for the professionals and residents who could sign. Its use was invaluable as part of the investigation to bring charges against the abusers (Longcare Scandal, Buckinghamshire). I then went on to qualify in 1996 under Margaret Walker MBE (founder of Makaton), and Jean Parratt senior adviser.

Since qualifying in 1996, I have gone on to teach more than 3,000 participants.

Highlights:

  • Setting up the very first Makaton Champion Scheme in Northern Ireland
  • Awarding five Makaton Friendly Awards
  • Cross Community training for West & East Belfast (Ledley Hall Youth Club)
  • Demonstrating the Makaton Programme to the following courts: London High Court, Belfast High Court, Belfast Laganside Court, and Londonderry Crown Court
  • Published articles in Community Care magazine (communicating with disabled people).
  • Training a wide variety of companies, charities and health Trusts. Selections below:
  • London Boroughs of Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Lambeth and Richmond upon Thames
  • In Northern Ireland the following Trusts: Southern Health and Social Care, Northern Health and Social Care, South Eastern Health and Social Care
  • Sure Start, Contact-a-family, Praxis Care, Northern Ireland Police Service (PSNI), Mencap (in London and Northern Ireland), the Scout Association (HQ London), United Response, Bayis Sheli (Orthodox Jewish Community Residential Home in North London)
  • A number of schools including Irish speaking schools in Belfast
  •  Setting up a Peer Tutor in Belfast
  • Finally, and for a bit of fun, teaching/signing a few of the Spice Girls’ songs in Richmond Park, Surrey with Margaret Walker MBE, and Norma Wingfield (senior tutor/advisor) for a disability awareness weekend in 1999. (Holy Park).

A word of encouragement from Stephen Hall CEO of The Makaton Charity:

Grant, firstly, many thanks and congratulations for such sterling service. We couldn’t achieve what we do without the passion, enthusiasm, and hard work that you put in. So, a big thank you.

Grant Wetherall

Makaton Regional (Licensed) Tutor - Established 1996









If you'd like to find out more about training to be a Makaton Tutor please visit our Become a Makaton Tutor page for more information on how to get started on your journey.

Author

Grant Wetherall

7th November 2022

At work

Happy Christmas!
07/11/2022

Happy Christmas

Staff from Makaton South Africa signing Happy Christmas

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas from everyone at The Makaton Charity and our international partners!

Published

10th January 2022

News

Win an Advent calendar
07/11/2022

Win an Advent calendar

Photo of the advent calendar
Competition now closed. The closing date for this competition was 22nd November 2022.
Photo of the Advent calendar

To celebrate the upcoming 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 12pm 22nd November 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: 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

16th November 2022

News

Winter Sale
07/11/2022

Winter Sale

The last day of the sale was 31st December 2022.

We're taking 20% off all downloads in the Makaton shop, and 10% off all other products.*

There's something for everyone. Whether you're looking for products and resources to support you at home or at work, or just want to give your loved ones a gift that will make them smile.

Just use the promotion code WINTER22 when you checkout.

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

Sale ends 31st December 2022.

Shop now
 

*excluding Membership and Tutor resources

Published
1st March 2021

News

The power of Makaton
03/11/2022

The power of Makaton 

Honor Brownie PromiseAt the age of 9, Honor Godfree has just achieved her Brownie Gold Award, the highest attainment in Brownies, and one of the interest badges that she completed for the Skills For My Future theme is her Languages badge. The badge has three tasks for the Brownie to complete: using four or more phrases to be understood; learning about where the language comes from, who uses it, etc.; share your skills.

Honor was very eager to use her Makaton knowledge in this badge, with a clear understanding that Makaton isn’t a language like BSL but rather a language programme with symbols, signs and spoken words. The phrases she chose to share for part 1 of the badge included “my name is Honor”, reminding me that she stopped her hand at the end of the non-dominant hand for H “otherwise it means clean”!

Honor started her Makaton journey when she was just three. After qualifying as a tutor, I had started a Makaton sing and sign group at her mother’s childminding business and Honor was among the first cohort of preschoolers who made funny frog faces, learned colours through the Gruffalo song, and animals through Room on the Broom. Since then, Home From Home has become a Makaton Friendly company, with Makaton embedded in its practice.

For the second part of the badge challenge, Honor talked about the use of symbols around the childminding area, including drawn by hand in large scale on toy storage boxes, to enable the little ones to make choices. She also loves watching how the babies and toddlers start to use their signs to communicate, often before spoken language.

For the past 4 years, Honor has attended a weekly Makaton choir with other children, both preschool and school-age, firstly at a local care home, then during covid on zoom, and now back as a fully intergenerational group in a retirement village. She supports younger children with their signing, and does a really good job of sharing the joys of Makaton with our new friends amongst the older adults.

For the “share your skills” part of the badge, she took the lead in performing We Don’t Talk About Bruno, encouraging all the other children to take part and reminding them of the words/signs as needed, for the village residents, none of whom had ever heard of Encanto, didn’t have a clue what the song was about (!), but who absolutely loved the performance.

Honor’s favourite signed song is You’ll Be In My Heart, and she particularly loves the video by Singing Hands at Great Ormond Street Hospital. As a 26-week preemie, Honor spent the first few months of her life in a children’s hospital and experienced a lot of hospital appointments as a toddler and an emergency operation when she was 5. Family friends from her NICU months have had a very different story and the magical mix of the words of You’ll Be In My Heart with the signing from everyone in the GOSH family, from parents, to consultants, to nurses, to porters, really exemplifies, for Honor, the power of Makaton to connect us all and build relationships through better communication.

Author
Linda B

3rd November 2022

Out and about

Communication Access UK First Anniversary
13/09/2022

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

Trusted Travel Buddies
13/09/2022

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

Head2Head Sensory Theatre (Part 2)
13/09/2022

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
13/09/2022

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

Makaton with Lucinda, Founders Membership
13/09/2022

Makaton with Lucinda, Founders Membership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author

Nikki H

11th November 2020

At home

Makaton News revamp
13/09/2022

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

Pixie's Makaton journey
13/09/2022

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

World Book Day: accessible storytelling
13/09/2022

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

Makaton at Alton Towers
13/09/2022

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

Why I love Makaton Friendly Scheme
13/09/2022

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 [email protected] 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

Makaton Signing for Babies and Families
13/09/2022

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

Wearing a face mask
13/09/2022

Wearing a face mask

Nic (wering a face mask) and Lily

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

 

See also:

Published

13th January 2021

News

Strictly signing 2021
13/09/2022

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

Signing With Singing Hands
13/09/2022

Signing With Singing Hands

Drawing of a young girl signing

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

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

What is Makaton?

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

How does Makaton help?

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

Who are Singing Hands?

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

Why is Makaton good with songs?

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

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

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

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

Watch the Makaton signing videos we created with Singing Hands

Author

Out of the Ark Music

5th February 2021

At work

Jennifer’s Makaton Journey
13/09/2022

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

Your dental visit: a positive experience
13/09/2022

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
13/09/2022

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

Going to Hospital book wins award
13/09/2022

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

HM Queen Elizabeth II
09/09/2022

HM Queen Elizabeth II

Makton symbol for Queen     

It is with real sadness that we read of the passing of our Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. She has been a guiding hand to our nation and an inspiration to all in our community and will be deeply missed. We offer our sincere condolences to the King and all His Family; our thoughts and prayers are with them at this difficult time.

Staement from Buckingham Palace in Makaton symbols

Published

9th September 2022

News

Odie’s Odd Odyssey
01/09/2022

Odie’s Odd Odyssey 

Lotus Lovers and Beatrice  Odie’s Odd Odyssey is Head2Head Sensory Theatre’s latest Makaton-signed, multi-sensory and interactive film, and is available on YouTube for FREE! Just click here to view on YouTube 

Join Odie as part of the ship's crew on their treacherous journey home to Ithaca. Head2Head Sensory Theatre's story is based on Homer’s The Odyssey. Alongside Odie and his friends, you will be entranced by the lotus flowers, escape from Cyclops, enjoy a little bit of luxury, be turned into a pig and much much more!

When you click on the YouTube link for Odie’s Odd Odyssey, you will see the description contains a further link to an accompanying film guide explaining how the multi-sensory and interactive moments work. There are also links to a YouTube playlist, with craft-activities and dance moves to complement the film, and a resource pack which can be found on the Head2Head Sensory Theatre website. The pack suggests a list of bits and bobs to gather together beforehand for a truly multi-sensory and interactive experience. There are things to make too, like a piggy nose, and these are demonstrated by the actors as part of the Odie’s Odd Odyssey YouTube playlist. In addition, the pack contains the storyline and song lyrics (also in widgets), as well as other games and activities

EmilyAnd we are delighted to introduce Emily Monk who is playing the role of Athena.

Emily auditioned for us as part of our professional placement scheme. This is her first paid role! We were also fortunate to have the voice skills of Annabel Inskip and Joss Perring as Muse 1 and Muse 2. Annabel and Joss, along with Archie Smith (in charge of sound during filming), are part of our Work Experience Programme run in conjunction with the Orpheus Centre. You can also see Archie introducing the craft and dance activities on the YouTube Playlist. We even have our patron, the disability campaigner Samantha Renke, voicing a god!

We hope you enjoy watching and joining in with Odie’s Odd Odyssey.  And please remember to hit subscribe on our YouTube channel!

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & TikTok @h2htheatre

www.h2hsensorytheatre.com

Previous blogs from Head2Head Sensory Theatre

Head2Head Sensory Theatre
Head2Head Sensory Theatre (Part 2)

Author

Sara Cole

Artistic Director
Head2Head Sensory Theatre

1st Sptember 2022

At work

MakaHike 2022: Ben Nevis
31/08/2022

MakaHike 2022: Ben Nevis

29 MakaHikers at the summit of Ben Nevis      

Congratulations to our MakaHikers who completed Ben Nevis to raise funds for The Makaton Charity. Our team of intrepid MakaHikers have raised over £9,500 so far!

Thank you to everyone who has donated, all money raised will enable the Makaton Charity to continue our vital work to ensure anyone with learning or communication difficulties has the tools and resources they need to understand and be understood.

It's not too late to support our MakaHikers and any donation, no matter how big or small, will make a difference to the lives of Makaton users and those who support them. Make a donation

29 MakaHikers at the summit of Ben Nevis

Published

12th September 2022

News