Businesses can acquire Makaton-friendly recognition for striving to make services accessible to people who use the language programme, Makaton charity co-ordinator Sarah Drew explained.
There are more than 2.2m people in the UK with speech, language and communication difficulties, which includes more than 1m Makaton users.
Licensee Noreen Tristram hopes to develop a training programme with Star Pubs & Bars to teach other pub managers the language.
Staff at her pub – the Oaklands in Littleover, Derby – achieved accreditation for the language in order to communicate with one of their regulars, a little boy called Oliver.
“For me, it was about how do we, as a business, communicate better with him as he gets older,” she said.
Learning the programme was easier than expected, but the costs could be off-putting to other pubs, Tristram explained.
She said: “I was quite surprised at how simple a process it was to get the accreditation. It's about how committed people have been, and financially getting the money for the taster session.”
The Oaklands team were not charged to do a taster session with a teacher at Oliver’s school, but the average cost could be around £150 per person for a session.
To join the scheme, staff must attend a workshop with the recommended minimum being two days involving learning a core vocabulary.
The Makaton Charity provides books, DVDs and digital resources to aid learning.
There were three pubs in the UK with the Makaton-friendly status but, after management changes and closures, it is just the Oaklands pub.
However, several hospitality businesses have the accreditation, including Alton Towers’ restaurants and venues.
A spokesperson from Alton Towers explained the decision to obtain the status stemmed from wanting visitors to be “fully engaged and immersed” in their experience.
“We wanted our employees to have the skills and confidence to fully communicate with the young guests and families that use Makaton, so there were no barriers to their exciting experience and time with us,” they said.
“We opened up our Makaton training to all of our employees giving them the opportunity to learn the basics, such as signs and symbols relating to our facilities, hotels and rides. We were overwhelmed with the response.
“The feedback from guests has been tremendous and they continually tell us they love it! To be able to communicate using Makaton means everyone can make their own special memories with ease.”