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Makaton symbol for the letter O

Sign of the Week

26th July - 1st August 2021

Learn a new word every week and be inspired to get signing.

This week's sign is...

The letter O

You can download the symbol and line drawing of the sign for the letter O from the Makaton Library:

 

(You need to be signed in to access the Library. Sign in or create a free account)

For further details see: How do I download the Sign of the Week?

We want to see you signing!

  1. Record a video of yourself signing. Landscape videos are best!
  2. Upload your video to your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
  3. Share your video using the #wetalkmakaton hashtag
 
 

Signs of the Week

Trustees wanted
19/07/2021

Trustees wanted

Three people signing Good

The Makaton Charity is seeking Trustees to help us grow our digital membership and community schemes and to reflect a more diverse set of stakeholders.

We believe growing our membership community and schemes will be vital to achieving our vision and strategy. For individual members we want to offer fantastic personalisation, on-line learning and community space experiences that really benefit beneficiaries, their families, and carers. For group and professional members, we want to provide brilliant products and offers such as training and resources, tailored to their sectors including the NHS/health, education, and social care.

We are therefore seeking up to two more Trustees who can:

  • Bring knowledge and experience of successfully scaling up digitally enabled and subscription-based membership communities and schemes. These should maximise member engagement and retention, as well as providing an income in line with our financial plans. Your experience is likely to be in organisations that have blended true community building with generating a sustainable income well – either Business-to-consumer (B2C), Business-to-business (B2B) or both. Particular experience in user experience considerations and impact assessment will be helpful.
  • Provide advice, guidance, and challenge to the evolution of our strategy, plans and projects. Making appropriate introductions within sectors and with relevant potential digital or other corporate partners would also be helpful.
  • Bring independence of judgement, the capacity to bring a fresh, external but constructive view to decision making, and champion our ambition to support and reflect a more diverse set of members and beneficiaries
  • Play a full role as a charity Trustee, including attending Board meetings and other committee meetings, as needed. General duties and responsibilities of a Trustee are found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-essential-trustee-what-you-need-to-know-cc3
  • Bring passion, interest and enthusiasm for our vision and values - help us ‘think and act big’ and extend our influence and reach!
    What commitment is required?

Trustees are voluntary roles (approved expenses will be paid) with an initial term of three years. You would need the time to:

  • Prepare for and attend c. five 2-hour Board meetings a year (mainly held remotely but one or two per year to be held at our offices in Frimley) including an annual ½ day awayday. However, we are keen not to put any geographical constraints on our Trustees.
  • Prepare for and attend any committee meetings you would be involved with (generally only one which would have between 3-5, 2-hour meetings a year held remotely). In time, to be willing to chair a committee.
  • Provide limited ad hoc support and input as required.

Next steps

Download the Trustee Recruitment Guide

Please send any queries and/or a full CV together with a brief covering letter to Sarah.Parke@makaton.org by 23rd July 2021. We will arrange a discussion with our Chair, Rob Douglas and CEO, Stephen Hall.  Please note that all Trustees must pass an enhanced DBS check. 

Published

16th June 2021

News

Access to healthcare is for all
25/06/2021

Access to healthcare is for all

Nikki H

NikkiHi, I am Nikki, and I am a Paramedic in an NHS Trust in the UK.

Working in pre-hospital emergency care, I meet a variety of service users, many of whom experience communication and/or learning difficulties or disabilities. In medical practice, the first and most important rule of patient care is INFORMED CONSENT.  This means that before any treatment or assessment takes place, the clinician must explain what will happen, verify understanding and seek consent from the service user. With persons who do not have English as a first language, the Ambulance Service have an on-call interpretation line.

What struck me was that in the ambulance service there is no provision for communicating with people with learning and/or communication difficulties – a whole demographic being unable to speak for themselves whilst having full capacity to make their own decisions.

I formalised my Makaton qualifications by completing all 4 levels throughout the summer/autumn of 2020. In discussion with attendees on the various courses, and of course, my amazing tutor and Makaton Ambassador, Nic Pike, it quickly became apparent that this lack of communication provision in pre-hospital care was being experienced across the country.

I wrote directly to the CEO of my Ambulance Service Trust, highlighting this huge gap in our service. I was delighted when he immediately replied to me in full support of my idea and put me in touch with the Equality and Diversity lead for the Trust. I put together a full business proposal for the implementation of Makaton across the Trust and secured funding to realise this dream. 

My trust sponsored me to undertake my Makaton Tutor Training course in May of this year and I am currently awaiting the outcome to find out if I have successfully passed all elements of the course. Once I am successfully qualified as a Tutor, I will be tasked with providing training to all frontline emergency staff to enable them to provide a fully inclusive service to ALL demographics.

The Makaton language program is unlimited and impartial – I have successfully used Makaton signs and symbols to communicate with people who are deaf, elderly persons who are hard of hearing, patients with dementia and patients recovering from Strokes – Makaton can be used in all kinds of environments.

There is one supported accommodation that I go to where the only form of communication used is Makaton. The first time I visited and communicated directly to the service user, the staff were stunned that I could use Makaton – they had become so used to being the “voice” and for the service user becoming frustrated at not being able to communicate their needs to the ambulance staff.

Having an ambulance crew turn up is unnerving as it is, without the added anxiety of not being able to understand or communicate. In addition, there is a dedicated unit in my locality where BSL is used – when I visit, I explain that I can use Makaton, and as Makaton is derived from BSL I am then able to communicate with the BSL users directly. In the ambulance itself, there is a whiteboard where I can draw Makaton symbols to show a “now and next” format for what will happen – used in conjunction with signing and the Healthcare cards I keep on a lanyard, I have found that the service users appear calmer and at ease with the situation due to these simple but effective communication aids.

These are just a few examples of the many times that I have implemented Makaton signs and symbols in the pre-hospital environment – there are so many more! It is such a powerful and versatile communication program.

With communication, dignity and respect being the foundations of pre-hospital care, it seems to me that the utilization of the Makaton communication program in pre-hospital care will enable so many people to speak for themselves where they have previously not had a voice. My Makaton journey has been and continues to be so rewarding. I am excited for myself, for my Trust and for the service users who will benefit from this addition to pre-hospital care!

Author

Nikki H

Paramedic, NHS UK

25th June 2021

At work

Just the way I am
29/06/2021

Just the way I am

Mr Tumble toy on Xander's desk

Xander's desk, with Mr Tumble toy and photo of Singing HandsI was born prematurely with a birth defect effecting my ability to learn to talk and I was also diagnosed with autism delaying my speech further. Makaton was my first language and it still is.

Before the age of 7 the only way I communicated was through photos, symbols, and signing. I had no verbal voice, but I did have a voice. Often it just went unheard.

Some people struggled to hear me as they were so used to using their ears, and with me they needed to listen with their eyes.

I have many childhood memories around communication from walking round a zoo needing the toilet but every time I tried to drag an adult that way they told me to “wait”, that didn’t end so well for me.

Or an earache with no way to tell anyone apart from to bang my head on the wall in the hope someone would look at it. 24 hours later when I got a runny nose I was taken to the doctors and my ear drum had burst, I had no way to express my pain.

Watching the other kids come home from school and get asked what they did that day, I got asked too but because my voice had no sound with it, other kids would shout and their attention to what I was showing them or signing quickly went, I learnt only those who are loudest get heard. Things like this did not encourage me to try.

Makaton symbol for Dog, next to a real dogOr I’d try and line up symbols to show what I needed or wanted, not always very accurately, and people would watch, guess once, and then say “have another go, I’ll be back”, yet they never came. I don’t know if it was time or confusion or frustration that they felt, but I know I felt left, given up on at times like that.

When I was a kid, people would ask what I wanted for a Christmas or birthday and I would sign “time”: they thought I was asking how long till that birthday or Christmas. I wasn’t, I was asking for their time. I needed extra time to communicate and sometimes I didn’t get that. Sometimes people didn’t even notice I had something to say. And I wanted that time back. I wanted to tell them about something, anything. I just wanted that conversation/connection all the other kids got.

But, when people did learn my way of communicating, or even just tried to give it a go and spent the time with me, they started to call me cheeky and clever rather than not calling me anything. They saw me!

When I learnt to argue and negotiate, I felt amazing. I may not have ever won the “ice cream now, dinner later” debate, but it still felt so good to be able to try!

As I aged, and after a few medical procedures, I was able to start vocalising sounds and words, but I still heavily relied on Makaton. My speech was not clear or consistent, but my Makaton was.

With my Makaton I had confidence, without it I got lost in the world.

Even when my speech progressed to a level where some would say I didn’t need symbols or signs, I really did. Nothing made this more clear than college. I started off so well, passing parts of my course but then I was faced with people telling me I would do better in the “real world” if I stopped doing “silly things” with my hands. They would constantly say “use your words”. What they didn’t see was signs and especially symbols helped me plan my day, organise my thoughts. I still needed Makaton. As a result I started to fail and I never finished college.

If I could go back in time and say five things to those who were around me as a kid I would pick the following;

  1. Listen with your eyes not just your ears.
  2. Make time. Our communication will take longer, but it’s still important.
  3. Let me use what helps me, don’t take my communication tools.
  4. Try, just try and learn my communication method, even just a few bits.
  5. Don’t give up on me, all that teaches me is to give up on myself.

Today, as an adult in my 30s, whenever someone says “do you want tea or coffee” I feel my little finger extend and my hand make the C shape: it helps me choose. I don’t drink either, but I still need those feelings and movements in my hands to vocalise that.

My home has symbol check lists for things I may forget. Reminders. Planners and random symbols of the important words or things I might need – like medication, toilet and cider!

Symbol check lists: breakfast, going out, bedtime

I have epilepsy and after a seizure, or when I am anxious or even excited, any strong emotion really, my voice doesn’t do so well on its own, but my Makaton shines. When I let it. So, it is still a massive part of my life and I love it. I just wish others loved it, embraced it, or even tried it: my life would be easier if they did.

Don’t get me wrong, some people do, my friends especially, but out in the community after a seizure, for example, I still feel like I’m in a world where I can’t ask for help or say I am OK, because people wouldn’t understand. It’s not just an anxiety, it’s a fact. I once got approached by the police as someone believed I was on drugs or under the influence of alcohol as I was uncoordinated and couldn’t speak properly. I tried signing as I had no symbols with me, but I was told to lower my hands. It was scary. Of course they apologised once they knew the truth but that didn’t stop me feeling like I’d failed, or feeling scared or frustrated. I don’t like going out on my own as much as I should, even now I avoid it when I can. Awareness is better these days, I shouldn’t have the worries I do, but history stays with us for a while.

When I was an adult, I started working in adult social care, a voluntary work placement to gain living and work skills. I saw adults given drinks, not offered them. I saw adults be given their clothes in the morning with no choice. I saw a menu only staff had input in, and I asked why? I was met with blank faces or people telling me “they can’t chose”. Every day they would wait for breakfast when physically they could have been involved. I didn’t like it. I held bottles of drink for them and let them touch or look or point, I had that time, being a volunteer. And they did! They looked, they pointed, they touched and smiled. They had an opinion.

I remembered all those memories from being a kid and overlooked so strongly. I needed to be part of the solution because unlike those carers, I knew what it was like to not have a voice, and I didn’t want to just sit and watch that go on.

From that day I wanted to work in adult social care so people, individuals, could have a voice, an opinion and a choice.

I went to work for another company and I was put on Makaton training. I sat, I watched, I knew the signs (all be it a bit sloppy and a few bad habits), but I sat there and thought to myself “this is what I want to do. It’s why I’m here. This is my purpose.”

I asked the tutor how I could do this, she explained. Years passed, geography and my own epilepsy meant I couldn’t do it, but then lockdown came and I could! I could try and reach my dream.

I redid all my courses, and I applied. I got in.

I worked so hard each and every day. There was language I didn’t understand because I never learnt it at school, so I worked my way through GCSE revision books learning about pronouns, verbs etc late into the night.

And I got my dream! I am now a Makaton Tutor! I cried for pretty much a whole day when I found out I had passed! I was, and still am a Makaton user but now I am also a Makaton Tutor!

I still can’t quite believe it. For over 30 years, Makaton has been a huge part of my life, and at times I have hidden my need for it because of others. But now, now I can use it to help others.

I want to raise awareness. I want to tell people Makaton saved me, no honestly it did. I could ask for help when I needed it, when I really needed it and having a voice of any kind is the best gift you can give someone. I was lucky and now if I can be part of the solution and help others, that is what I want to do. Everyone deserves a voice and deserves to be heard.

It’s only because of the awesome people around me that I have had the confidence to share my story. A big thank you to “H” for always being there and never giving up. And to “N” for supporting me and for giving me that confidence and push I needed, to both of them for always telling me, I am fine just the way I am.

Author

Zander Green

21st June 2021

At home

How Makaton works

Makaton uses speech with signs (gestures) and symbols (pictures) to help people communicate...

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