A year ago I wrote a blog about our work to embrace Makaton within NUS, and my experiences in relearning Makaton after a 25 year hiatus. With approximately 16% of all learners aged 19-25 in Further Education and the skills sector having a learning difficulty or disability, it is essential for NUS to integrate Makaton into our work for our members. I am thrilled to write today’s article, which shows our progress since then.
We have welcomed new members who represent learners with a learning difficulty or disability to NUS in the last 12 months – we extend a huge welcome to the Seashell Trust, Fortune Centre for Riding Therapy, Henshaws, Oakwood Court College and Aurora Boveridge.
We have trained a further 20 staff and officers in using Makaton. Our events are now all Makaton friendly – all of our staff on our welcome desks at events are Makaton trained and we greet all of our delegates using Makaton. We make sure that we have Makaton symbols to signpost things like our toilets, information points, quiet rooms and prayer rooms. This is to help our delegates make themselves comfortable and meet their needs.
I am really proud of in the last 12 months that we have written our strategy using Makaton. We have created a symbol and signed version of this. I believe that we are one of the first organisations in the country to do this. Watch me signing our strategy
This version of our strategy was developed with the ongoing support of Sarah Laszlo from Derwen College and The Makaton Charity, and I am grateful and appreciative of their guidance, steer, determination and expertise throughout its development. It has been a learning experience for NUS, revealing more about the needs of our members representing learners with learning difficulties and disabilities, and we still have much to do.
We need to get better at making our conferences and democratic events that are particularly for our members who represent learners with learning difficulties or disabilities more accessible, easy to understand, and also, enjoyable, in a warm, inclusive environment. We now have a well established working group to ensure that our policies and activities continue to develop in the sprit and intention of being a Makaton Friendly organisation.
I want to thank my colleagues at NUS who are developing, embracing and driving this work, and our members new and existing for their challenge and support in making us better at embracing Makaton to support learners with a range of needs. We are here for all of our members, and I am looking forward to taking our next steps on our journey to continue to challenge and improve.