What’s the difference between Sign Language and Makaton?

What’s the difference between BSL and Makaton?kids_signing

Makaton is designed to be used to support spoken language, for people with learning or communication difficulties. Makaton is often used alongside speech to help aid children and adults with communication. It is common for people to eventually stop using signs as their speech develops.

British Sign Language (BSL) is a language with its own structure and grammar and uses hand signs, body language, facial expression and lip patterns. It is the language used by the deaf community in the UK and, as with any spoken language, is constantly evolving.

The signs used in Makaton are taken from Sign Language and, as Sign Language differs from country to country, so does Makaton. However, unlike Sign Language which has regional variations and dialects, the signs for Makaton will be the same throughout the country.

Deaf Awareness Week 2016


2 – 8th of May 2016 is Deaf Awareness Week.It’s a week dedicated to promoting inclusion and awareness of Deafness and Deaf culture.

School of Sign Language resources linked to Deaf Awareness

Some websites with additional information and various events

Celebrating 10 Years in Business


We are very proud to say that the School of Sign Language has been in business for 10 years.

The School of Sign Language was established by Debra Reynolds in April 2006 who was motivated by her drive and enthusiasm to break down barriers between Deaf and hearing communities. Following her own personal experiences, being hard of hearing, she was fully aware of the challenges Deaf people face every day.

The School of Sign Language has received numerous awards for their pioneering work and received national attention.

Throughout these 10 years we have worked with many different people including schools, colleges, prisons, businesses, organisations, hospitals, police, fire brigade, hotels, shops, banks, individuals, charities, job centres, football clubs and housing associations. We have also worked with ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC.

Over the past decade we have accomplished many things. Some of our standout moments include;

  • 2007 – Deaf video podcasts
  • 2012 – Primary Sign launched
  • 2008 – Creature Discomforts, voice of Cath the cat
  • 2008 – This Morning appearance
  • 2010 – Sign Language GCSE equivalent
  • 2013 – National radio campaign
  • 2014 – Worked on Emmerdale Farm set


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Entire Class Learn Sign Language for Deaf Student


A whole class in a Bosnian school has learnt Sign Language so that they can communicate with their deaf classmate, six-year-old Zejd Coralic. After noticing that he had started to become isolated, their teacher Sanela Ljumanovic decided to teach her class Sign Language to help Zejd.

The students are all thriving learning the language and Zejd’s mother says, “Zejd looks forward to going to school … now he is happy and motivated.”.

It shows how important communication is and how much a difference Sign Language can make.

What do you want to learn?

Are there any words or topics you’d like to learn the signs for? Our main aim is to help break down communication barriers between Deaf and hearing communities and promote the use of sign language. We are currently in the process of updating our online learning library and would like to hear from you which words/phrases you’d like to learn the most – it could be linked to your work, family or anything else.

Get in touch with us about what you’d like to see and we will do our best to try and accommodate everyone. Alternatively, you can always send us a message/comment on facebook or tweet us.


Working together with REUSE



The School of Sign Language are delighted to be working  with REUSE together, supporting people in work placements.

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Kind words for Debra

Our Managing Director Debra was recently nominated for “POSITIVE ROLE MODEL AWARD” for the National Diversity Awards.

Debra was touched by some of the most heart warming nominations from people  that she has worked with during the past 10 years.

Here is a few of the nominations.

I have known Debra since 2008, when I undertook a voluntary work placement at The School Of Sign Language. She is a thoughtful, supportive person who I feel lucky to know. She’s also a devoted mother, dedicated business woman and a trusted friend. Debra works so hard to raise deaf awareness and has given many people, including myself, the opportunity to learn sign language and gain a valuable understanding of the issues that hearing-impaired people deal with on a daily basis. She is an inspiring role model, promoting equality and diversity with an enthusiastic energy that is admirable.

[Read more…]

Deaf Awareness & BSL Training


Access Ability are looking for organisations or voluntary groups in Lancashire to benefit from FREE Deaf Awareness & BSL training (funded by Lancashire Adult Learning). This FREE training is for adults aged 19 or over. If you can recommend a voluntary group, an organisation or someone who are based in Lancashire that may benefit from this training, please contact us or emma@accessability.org.uk for details.

New Website

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Our website has been updated! We have made changes to make the site easier to navigate, find information and book courses.

If you would like to give us feedback on our changes be sure to get in touch with us and let us know. Any comments will be used to ensure we can provide the best service possible.

Children’s Signed Book Launch Today


Children’s books author Julia Donaldson launches a book today that she created with Deaf children as part of a project in 2012. The book is entitled ‘What The Jackdaw Saw’ and it is about sign language and friendship. There are bright and accessible illustrations (created by Nick Sharratt) which makes the book easy and enjoyable to read.

Julia has hearing loss and is fascinated by sign language.

For more information, visit www.juliadonaldson.co.uk

Happy reading!