We all use natural gesture and body language when we are communicating and interacting with others. Gesture and common everyday signs are used alongside verbal communication everyday – waving goodbye, thumbs up to mean good etc.

There are several formal signing systems that can be used alongside spoken words to help children develop their own communication. These signs along with speech can help a child understand what is said and help a child express what he/she wants to say.

British Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. It has its own grammar, word order and structure. The word order of BSL is very different from the word order used in spoken English used by hearing people.BSL has regional variations.

Signed English is when EVERY word is signed, in the correct English order.

Signed Supported English is when people talk in normal English whilst signing the most important words for clarification.  

Makaton is a vocabulary based signing system. There is no grammatical structure as in English or BSL. It is used with speech, the most important keys words are spoken and signed and the word order is the same as English. It is a standardised system and the same signs are used to mean the same thing throughout the country.

Signalong is another vocabulary based signing system. As with Makaton there is no grammatical structure. It is also used with speech, and the most important keys words are spoken and signed. The word order is the same as English and it too is a standardised system where the same signs are used to mean the same thing throughout the country.

Paget Gorman Signed Speech uses its own signs to represent the structure of English. Signs are always accompanied by speech, using normal patterns of English and children are encouraged to speak as they sign. The system is an important educational tool; it is not necessarily intended to be used as a means of communication throughout life.

Baby Sign uses the natural gestures and signs to facilitate early communication.
Speech and Language Therapists have knowledge of various signing systems and how they can be used to help communication. Many therapists are registered tutors in a particular signing system and can advise how to use sign to develop communication.

Last updated: January 29th, 2018