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Key Word Sign in Australia is supported by a network of people passionate about the use and benefits of Key Word Sign for people with communication difficulties.

The use of Key Word Sign started in Australia in the early 1980’s, under the name Makaton. The benefit of Key Word Sign for children and adults with communication delays or disabilities was quickly recognised and its use spread across the states and territories. Over time voluntary committees were formed in several states.

Key Word Sign Australia (KWSA) was established as a national body in the 1990s. It works with committees and representatives in the states and territories to support the effective use of KWS.

KWSA is a registered business of Scope (Aust) Ltd. Scope is one of the largest not-for-profit disability service providers in Australia, supporting thousands of people with complex intellectual, physical and multiple disabilities. You can find more information about Scope and the services it offers at https://www.scopeaust.org.au/.

Key Word Sign Australia (KWSA) supports, develops and promotes the use of KWS throughout Australia, for the benefit of people with communication difficulties.

We aim to:

  • be a source of accurate and accessible information about Key Word Sign
  • develop and make available resources and products that support the effective use of Key Word Sign
  • ensure a high standard of training in the use of Key Word Sign
  • train, accredit and license Key Word Sign Presenters
  • support and collaborate with the national network of Key Word Sign Committees/Representatives
Karen Bloomberg

Key Word Sign Australia (KWSA) wish to acknowledge and honor Karen Bloomberg, a pioneer and founding member of KWSA. Karen was a Speech Pathologist, and internationally respected leader in the area of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and a long serving member at Scope’s Communication and Inclusion Resource Centre (CIRC). In her distinguished career as a clinician, researcher and disability support advocate, Karen played a major role in pioneering initiatives to support people with complex communication needs to ensure they were provided with a means to communicate and be heard. Karen was inducted into the Lifetime Achievement Honor Roll at the 2017 Victoria Disability Awards and has an AGOSCI/Key Word Sign Australia award named in her honor “The Award for Outstanding Contribution to Unaided AAC in Research, Clinical Practice, Teaching or Mentoring – The Karen Bloomberg Award.”

Karen strongly believed in the benefits of KWS for many people with complex communication needs. She was the driving force in the development of KWS across Australia since the 1980s.

The Key Word Sign community were privileged to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from Karen.

This website is dedicated to the memory of Karen Bloomberg. It was made possible by a National Disability Insurance Scheme Information, Linkages and Capacity Building Grant. 

Denise West & Katie Lyon, Scope

Find a presenter

Key Word Sign presenters have completed an intensive program providing them with the skills and knowledge to deliver training in Key Word Sign (KWS). Professional members are KWS presenters who are accredited by KWSA and licensed to deliver KWS training packages.

KWS professional members can provide KWS training, advice on using KWS, and those presenters who are also speech pathologists may be available for individualised intervention using KWS.

State committees and representatives provide support to KWS presenters in their state and help to coordinate the provision of KWS training.

Click on your state to find out about upcoming KWS workshops, request a workshop for your organisation or family, or to contact your state committee/representative.