Makaton in Turkey

Türkçe

Now I probably should have called this post NO Makaton in Turkey…

Makaton is a language programme that uses signs and symbols to help people communicate which was developed in the UK in the 70s. It has been designed specifically for people with learning disabilities or communication difficulties.  It is not a complex language like British Sign Language, Amercan Sign Language or AUSLAN but has a simple vocabulary (random selection: the alphabet; days of the week; toilet; cake; rain; night; day; cold; mother; father; happy; sad). It varies from stage 1 (easy) – 8 (complex).  I have seen Makaton used in more or less every special needs school that I have worked at in both the UK and Australia (totalling over 50 schools).  Makaton is also now used in the UK in baby and toddler groups as babies can learn to sign before they can speak.

I use Makaton a lot when creating Sensory Theatre productions for special needs schools.  Not only does it give the audience I work with a better chance of understanding a story it is also a great performance technique, the gestures are big and bold thus very dramatic!  Sensory Theatre involves a lot of audience participation and signing is a big part of this as children love to copy actions.  When there aren’t signs for specific words it is easy to make them up as you just need to sign the obvious (e.g the sign for drink is to point your thumb towards your mouth).

Today when I was discussing Makaton at a teacher training workshop I lead at a special needs school in Turkey I was informed that no signing systems are taught at universities and they are strongly discouraged in schools for fear that if children learn to sign then they will not learn to speak.  Not only is Makaton discouraged but so is sign language for deaf people.  The reasoning behind this is that now hearing aids are so advanced there is no need for sign language. Now I don’t know enough about the technology of hearing aids to comment on this but I find it difficult to see how using a language designed for a specific group of people is harmful.  As no one is trained how to use Makaton or sign language in Turkish universities anymore it means that there is no one to teach the children who many benefit.

Speaking specifically about Makaton there are many people with special needs who are non-verbal and who will always be non-verbal.  Therefore not giving them the opportunity to express themselves using signs seems ludicrous.  We have been using Makaton and other signs all week with children in the school we are currently working in and many children that teachers say won’t be able to participate in our work have been able to through the use of signs (e.g instead of singing a song, or telling a story, they sign it).

I was also told that a few special needs schools in Turkey have started to use PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System).  I have seen this system used extremely well previously in many schools.  Children are able to create entire sentences using a picture system (like Makaton it goes from easy to complex). When I asked why the Turkish education system was opposed to signing but not to PECS I was told that if a child needed to express themselves to a stranger they would be able to do so using PECS, but not with signing.  E.g with PECS they could show someone where they lived but with Makaton they would not be understood.  This to me doesn’t make sense on so many levels. People with profound special needs will usually spend time with people who they know or are familiar with, and therefore understand whichever language they communicate in. In the unfortunate circumstance that a person is lost and needs to tell someone where they live it is unlikely that they will have their PECS book at hand.  Surely it is better to be able to use a language system that isn’t well known than have no language at all?

Signing gives individuals the opportunity to communicate and can reduce isolation and frustration.  I would now like to learn more about the hesitation of its use in Turkey and a quick google search has taught me very little (Wikipedia tells me ‘…there is little published information on Turkish Sign Language’).  If anyone has any advice on how I could begin my research on this topic please contact me at amber@tellmeatale.org

For more information on Makaton you can visit this site: www.makaton.org

 

Makaton, Birlesik Krallikta (İngiltere) insanlarin iletisim kurmasina yardimci olmak icin isaret ve semboller kullanarak 70 lerde gelistirilen bir dil programidir.Ozellikle,ogrenme yetersizlikleri ve iletisim zorluklari olan kisiler icin tasarlanmistir.

İngiliz, Amerikan, Avusturya isaret dilleri gibi karmasik olmayip,basit bir kelime dagarcigina
sahiptir(rasgele secim: alfabe, haftaningunleri, tuvalet, pasta, yagmur, gece, gunduz, soguk, anne, baba, mutlu, uzgun) 1.evreden (basit)- 8.evreye(karmasik) kadar degisik evreleri vardir. Hem İngiltere, hem de Avusturalya’da calistigim,toplamda 50nin üzerindeki tum ozel gereksinim okullarinda Makaton’un az ya da cok kullanildigini gordum.Makaton,aynı zamanda İngiltere’de bebek ve yurumeye baslayan cocuk guruplarinda konusma oncesi isaretleri ogrenebilmeleri icin kullanilmaktadir.

Ben, Makaton’u,ozel gereksinim okullarindaki algisal tiyatro produksiyonlarinda pek cok kullanirim. İzleyiciye hikayeyi daha iyi anlama olanagi vermesinin yani sira, ayni zamanda jestlerin gosterisli ve abartili olusu nedeniyle cok dramatik ve buyuk bir performans teknigidir. Algisal tiyatro pek cok izleyicinin katilimina ve cocuklarin hareketlerin taklidini sevmesi nedeniyle bunun buyuk bir kismini isaret diliyle iletmelerine yol acar. Belirli kelimeler icin isaret yoksa apacik olani isaret ederek belirtmeniz cok basittir. (icme isaret etmek icin bas parmagi agza goturmek gibi).

Ozellikle Makaton’dan bahsedecek olursak, konusamayan ve hicbir zaman konusamayacak pek cok kisi buna ozellikle gereksinim duymaktadir.Bu nedenle,onlara isaretler kullanarak kendini ifade etme olanagi vermemek gulunc gorunmektedir. Biz Makaton ve diger isaretleri calistigimiz okullarda cocuklarla tum hafta kullaniyorduk ve ogretmenler bize katilamayacak durumdaki pek cok cocugun isaretler kullanimi sayesinde katilabildigini soylediler. (ornek:sarki soyleme veya hikaye anlatma yerine isaret etme).

Bana Turkiye’deki birkac ozel gereksinim okulunda RDİS sistemin kullanilmaya baslandigi soylendi(Resim Degisim İletisim Sistemi).Bu sistemin onceden pek cok okulda son derece iyi kullanildigini gordum.Cocuklar,cumlelerin tumunu bir resim sistemi kullanarak olusturabiliyorlar.(Makaton gibi basitten karmasiga dogru gidiyor).Turk egitim sisteminin nicin isaretlere karsi olup RDİS e karsi olmadigini sordugumda,bana bir cocuk sayet bir yabanciya kendini ifade etme geregi duyarsa bunu isaretle degil RDİS kullanarak yapabilecegi soylendi.

Ornek olarak RDİS ile birine nerede yasadigini gosterebilir fakat Makaton ile anlasamazlar.Bu bana pek anlamli gelmiyor.Derin ozel gereksinimleri olan kimseler genellikle bildikleri ve tanidiklari kisilerle vakit gecirirler ve bu nedenle iletisim kurduklari icin birbirlerinin dillerini anlarlar.Bir kimsenin kayboldugu ve birisine nerede yasadigini anlatmasini gerektiren sanssiz durumlarda elinde RDİS kitabi olma olasiligi yoktur.

Elbette,hic bir dil olmamasi yerine iyi bilinen bir dil sistemini kullanabilmek daha iyidir.İsaret etmek bireylere iletisim kurma olanagi saglar,soyutlanma ve dus kirikligini azaltir.Ben bunun Turkiye’deki kullanilmasindaki endise konusunda daha fazla bilgi edinmek istiyorum.Yaptigim hizli bir google arastirmasindan cok az sey ogrenebildim (Wikipedia Turkce İsaret Dili ile ilgili yayinlanmis cok az bilgi vardir diyor).Sayet bu konuda arastirmaya nasil baslayabilecegim hususunda onerisi olan varsa,lutfen benimle baglanti kursun. amber@tellmeatale.org
Daha fazla bilgi icin: www.makaton.org

3 thoughts on “Makaton in Turkey

  1. Hi Amber,
    Really interesting article. I just wanted to also make the point that Makaton is always accompanied with speaking unlike BSL. Makaton in England is seen as an accompanyment to speech. I know you know this but I just wanted to emphasis this as it therefore goes against the turkish arguement that children won’t learn to speak because they can sign.
    The use of PECS sounds great but as you say this should be used as well as makaton. PECS are great for children that perhaps can’t sign themselves but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sign to them, who knows what people may be able to understand.
    Sounds like you are having a really interesting time
    Lucy x

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