The Makaton Vocabulary was developed in the 1970’s and became, and has remained, one of most pervasive and influential pedagogical approaches for children with severe learning difficulties. This article looks at attitudes towards Makaton and compares findings from two studies, carried out in a sample of special schools in the south west of England during 1986 and 1995. Overall, the results suggest that attitudes towards the use of Makaton signs have become more positive. Makaton signs are now regarded, overall, as supporting and facilitating language development, and earlier concerns about stigmatisation have declined. There is some evidence to suggest that this latter change is influenced by changes in attitudes to British Sign Language. The 1986 study predicted that new technology would have a significant impact on attitudes to language and communication systems such as Makaton, but this prediction was not supported in the 2005 study. The article highlights also how different attitudes towards Makaton can exist within the same school, and how this situation can have a significant impact on the educational experiences and opportunities of children with severe learning difficulties. The article concludes that the apparent educational movements of integration or inclusion produce different attitudes towards Makaton and how it is used. However, although Makaton signing has become seen as a tool to create educational inclusion, the extent to which the system itself has actually changed is a contentious issu
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