Makaton signs are helpful for children and young people with communication needs and learning disabilities. The signs are designed to support spoken language – signs are used with speech, in spoken word order. Using signs can help children who have no speech or whose speech is unclear. This helps provide extra clues about what someone is saying and helps understanding.

This document, which you can download here (PDF) contains key Makaton signs related to Covid-19 which you can use as you talk to people about Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Signing tips:

  • Speak as you sign: Always use the signs alongside simple spoken phrases/sentences.
  • Sign the key words only: As you are talking, only use signs for the most important words. This makes those words easier to understand. Don’t sign every word you say.
  • Keep it simple: try to keep your message short and simple so the person can process and understand what you are saying.
  • Model the sign: you may need to guide your child’s hands to help them to make the sign.
  • Use facial expression and body language: This can give more clues about what you are saying e.g. If you are talking about pain, a grimace or frown will add meaning.
  • Stick to simple emotions: many young people with disabilities may struggle with emotions. To avoid overloading these people we usually just use happy, sad, worried and angry.
  • Use the signs consistently yourself: The person is more likely to understand and perhaps start using a new sign if they see it often.
  • Consider having a ‘sign of the day’: Model the sign, get the person to copy, continue to practice it’s use at every opportunity during the day.


The Makaton Charity have a YouTube channel which can be found here:

The Makaton Charity provides advice and support to families and professionals.