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  • Writer's pictureDan Heley

Time to make Weston 'Makaton Friendly'

Communication disability affects millions of people of any age. Up to 14 million people in the UK (20% of the population) will experience communication difficulty at some point in their lives, with more than 10% of children having a long-term communication need.

Ali Pennington who has been a Makaton tutor for 18 months but has supported children with communication difficulties for over 20 years, is passionate about Makaton after witnessing first hand the struggles that can be caused by having difficulty communicating"

Ali said "Communication is not simply about the ability to speak but also the ability to hear and understand what is said to us. The impact of communication difficulties and disabilities is varied; some people may find it hard to ask a question, name an object or ask for help, while others may have speech difficulties that make them difficult to understand."

"Others may have problems processing information and difficulties with reading and writing. Some may use communication devices and require time to create their message.

Communication disabilities leave millions without a voice, denying them equality of access and opportunity"

Ali wants to work towards Weston-super-Mare being a 'Makaton Friendly Town' and wants the community to help be a party of that. There is a free online course which can be found at which raises not only awareness of the impact on a person living with a communication difficulty but also shows different ways of communication and how we can support these within organisations and businesses.

Ali said "I would highly recommend everyone to take the course as an individual, business or organisation. By taking this course you can also get accredited and then able to use the Communication Friendly logo to display in shop/cafe windows which is such a great idea!"

"Thousands of people use the Makaton to communicate, this is a language programme combining speech, signs and symbols to aid communication. I have been working on the Makaton Friendly project for a year and so far we have 6 Makaton Friendly establishments and 4 awaiting their Makaton Friendly status award from The Makaton Charity, we need 40 to sign up altogether for us to get 'Makaton Friendly Town' status, so we are definitely on our way to achieving this!"

Ali will be putting on a free to attend event in the new year specific for businesses and organisations providing advice on how to be more communication friendly and teaching some signed greetings and everyday phrases they can use.

For more details you can contact Ali on



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