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What is it?

Makaton uses signs, symbols and speech to help people communicate. Signs are used with speech, in spoken word order. This helps provide extra clues about what someone is saying. Using signs can help people who have no speech or whose speech is unclear. Using symbols can help people who have limited speech and those who cannot, or prefer not to, sign.

Makaton is extremely flexible as it can be personalised to an individual's needs and used at a level suitable for them. It can be used to:

  • share thoughts, choices and emotions
  • label real objects, pictures, photos and places
  • take part in games and songs
  • listen to, read and tell stories
  • create recipes, menus and shopping lists
  • write letters and messages
  • help people find their way around public buildings.

Today, over 100,000 children and adults use Makaton symbols and signs. Most people start using Makaton as children and then naturally stop using the signs and symbols as they no longer need them. However, some people will need to use Makaton for their whole lives.

What are the aims?

Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people to communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order. With Makaton, children and adults can communicate straight away using signs and symbols. Many people then drop the signs or symbols naturally at their own pace, as they develop speech.

How is it used / delivered/ who is responsible?

Makaton is embedded in school life at Strathmore; all staff use Makaton throughout the day. There is regular training for staff and we keep our knowledge up to date with ‘sign of the week’ which can be seen in our weekly newsletter. If you have any suggestions for 'sign of the week', please share with us via

Who are the people I need to talk to for more information / support?


There is a Trust Makaton trainer. Keep an eye out for training dates if you are interested in a Makaton course or contact Natalie Arciero, our Family Worker 

If you need support with more vocabulary, contact the class teacher.

Can I use it at home?

  • Yes, even if your child is a verbal communicator, Makaton will be helpful to build sentences, teach new vocabulary and help them to communicate in high pressured situations. 
  • The children’s TV programme ‘Something Special’ uses Makaton and is an easy introduction to using Makaton at home.

Further reading / useful links

Singing hands, songs with MAKATON signs. see events page for performances.

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