Key Word Sign Australia is located in the Special Education Centre at the University of Newcastle, NSW. Key Word Sign Australia acts as the co-ordinating body for Key Word Sign activities throughout Australia.
The aims of Key Word Sign Australia are :
- To promote and develop the use of key word signing throughout Australia, for the benefit of people with communication difficulties.
- To support a state network of Key Word Sign Representatives.
- To ensure a high standard of training of Key Word Sign Presenters.
- To up-date and develop new key word signing resources appropriate to Australia.
- To provide for the sale and distribution of Key Word Sign resources across Australia.
- To be a source of information on all maters relating to key word signing in Australia.
Key Word Sign Australia was formerly known as Makaton Australia. The Makaton Vocabulary was developed in England by Margaret Walker in the early 1970's. The Makaton Program was introduced to Australia by Anne Cooney in 1977 and first used at the Stockton Hospital (Newcastle, NSW). In 1984 Margaret Walker visited Australia and helped organise Makaton Australia and Makaton state branches. In 2010, Makaton Australia was renamed Key Word Sign Australia. Key Word Sign Australia continues to support children and adults with communication and language difficulties and continues to provide quality resources to families, carers and professionals.
What is Key Word Sign?
Key word sign is the use of manual signs and natural gesture to support communication. Key word sign is used to encourage and support language development in children and adults with communication difficulties.
Key word signing uses a core vocabulary of specially selected words that comprises concepts and ideas considered to be the most appropriate for children and adults with communication and language difficulties.
Each word (concept) is matched to a hand sign. Key word signing uses Auslan signs. Auslan is the native language of the Australian deaf community (Australian Sign Language).
The main features of Key Word Sign include:
- Use of sign and speech concurrently
- Sign the key words but say the whole sentence
- Use of visual strategies including body language, facial expression and directionality
- The use of symbols where appropriate
- Some use of finger spelling