If a name of a keyword signing system (such as Makaton or Signalong) appears next to a sign then that sign is the same or very similar to a sign found in that signing system. If “BSL” (British Sign Language) appears next to the sign, then that sign is the same or very similar to a sign used in at least one dialect of BSL.

Using signs

To use keyword signing accurately and in a way that is useful, you are strongly encouraged to follow a recognised keyword signing course. Signalong and Makaton courses are run widely across the UK and in some other countries.

Makaton and Signalong also publish sign manual and dictionaries. Makaton has an iPad app with access to around 4,000 signs, Signalong’s online dictionary has over 8,000 signs. Signalong provides a system of sign descriptions which will enable you to produce signs very accurately and consistently.

Variations between signs used in BSL and those used in Makaton or Signalong

The signs used in a key word signing system and BSL may be different for a number of reasons including:

  • There may be more than one version of the sign used in BSL for a concept (for example used in different regions), for consistency, one version has been chosen for the signing system.
  • The sign may have been simplified, or it may have been made bigger/clearer to make it easier to use by those with communication difficulties.
  • A different sign may be used to distinguish it from the same or similar sign used to represent a different sign (such as baby versus doll).

Communication symbols used on this site

Symbols used on this site are from Arasaac, Mulberry and Sclera.