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Strictly stars praised for using sign language

Strictly contestants and judges using Makaton signs for Thankyou and Ghost

It's become part of Strictly Come Dancing tradition - thanking the viewers who have voted to save you from the dreaded dance-off.

But this year, you might have noticed those thanks being accompanied by a new gesture.

A hand held up below the mouth, then extended towards the camera.

It looks not unlike blowing a kiss, but it's much more significant than that. It's the Makaton sign for 'thank you.'

And the dancers and judges are being praised for incorporating sign language into the show.

As part of head judge Shirley Ballas' entrance for Halloween week she used the sign for ghost.

One viewer tweeted to say she watched the show back after she thought she saw Shirley signing.

Other celebrities have been using the signs for 'thank you' and love.

It's not the first time it's happened, but Makaton really does seem to be a fixture of Strictly 2019.

Saffron Barker used the love sign when she knew she was safe to dance again next week.

The Makaton charity tweeted: "Thank you for signing again this week @EmmaBarton ... Using Makaton makes a huge difference to children and adults with communication difficulties."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Karen Hauer and Chris Ramsey

Comedian Chris Ramsey replied to a fan who praised him for using Makaton.

He said: "This has made my day! I know so many children use Makaton including some of my friends' children. So so happy she saw it and hopefully I get to do it again next week."

What is Makaton?

Many of us might have first encountered Makaton as the communication technique used by Mr Tumble on the CBeebies show Something Special.

It uses a mixture of symbols, signs and speech, and is designed to tackle the frustration often felt by people who have difficulty communicating.

According to the official Makaton website, more than 100,000 children and adults use the system.

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