TRADERS in Devizes are celebrating after finally gaining the status of a Makaton Friendly town.

Mum Lucy Heasman of Broadleas Park, Devizes launched the campaign more than a year ago after using Makaton sign language to help her son Alex, five, who had speech delay.

She urged shops to back the project so the town could gain Makaton Friendly status.

She is delighted this has now been achieved after the Makaton Charity officially declared that Devizes had met its criteria. Mrs Heasman said: “This is just the start for us and we are hoping to get many, many more businesses and organisations on board.

“It is all about enhancing inclusivity and increasing accessibility to all in the town.”

More than 25 local businesses and organisations have signed up to be Makaton Friendly and offer a communication-friendly environment to their service users or customers.

This includes cafes, dentists, shops, nurseries, the fire service, adult day services and churches to name but a few.

Mrs Heasman was helped by regional Makaton tutor Sonia Sansom. She said: “As parents of children who have had difficulty making themselves understood through the spoken word Lucy and I recognised the importance of local organisations and businesses becoming more accessible to people with communication difficulties.

“We have run eight Makaton Taster Sessions attended by over 100 people. At these sessions, participants have leant signs and symbols, had fun putting it into practice and learnt more about the Makaton Language Programme.

Makaton uses signs and symbols to help people to communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order.”

The next taster session is running on Thursday at St James’ Church, Devizes. Email or

Go to the Makaton Friendly Devizes page on Facebook or email