16 April 2020
By Elaine Murphy
Lámh is a key sign system used by children and adults with intellectual disability and communication needs in Ireland
It differs from ‘sign language’ which is typically used by people with hearing issues.
Using a key sign system encourages eye contact and attention to movement; skills that are important for supporting speech development
Lámh has opened up free access to Lámh Signs online until the end of May while families and carers are staying home amid the coronavirus pandemic. Over 4,200 people have signed up in the last two weeks.
Lámh is a key sign system used by children and adults with intellectual disability and communication needs in Ireland. Supporting communication between parents, children and siblings, Lámh is used as a stepping stone for children and adults with intellectual disabilities to communicate with the world. Lámh is based on and adapted from Irish Sign Language (ISL) and natural gesture.
While schools are closed and families are staying at home, Lámh would like to support families and carers as much as possible. Lámh are offering free temporary access to over 580 Lámh signs available online including relevant safety Lámh signs for Wash Hands, Space, Clean and so much more. These online resources feature videos of presenters which show the Lámh sign, which can then be copied and practiced alongside any other information a Lámh user may need. Those demonstrating the signs include families who use Lámh themselves.
Working in Cork, Lámh tutor Deirdre Coleman has recently introduced puppets to help teach Lámh signs on their instagram channel, lamhsign. The new puppets, Larry and Loulou have received a great response. With over 5,000 followers, Lámhs instagram page showcases key Lámh signs, songs and activities for Lámh users. Videos of Lámh signers have also been featured on RTE’s HomeSchool Extra show.
Mary Cullen, Manager of Lámh said “Usually Lámh users, families, teachers, SNAs and others start to learn Lámh signs face-to-face where more information and support can be given. But during the coronavirus pandemic, families are at home, routines are changed, school is out, and Lámh courses have been postponed. We hope that Lámhs online resources will give some support to families, carers and Lámh users during this time.”
To get free access to Lámh signs online resources go to www.lamhsigns.org and use the code lovelamh.
About Lámh Ireland
The main objective (of Lámh) is to develop, promote and maintain Lámh as an augmentative system of communication for people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland. Why Use Lámh? Use of Lámh signs can reduce frustration, as the Lámh user is able to use signs to ask for what they want, to answer and to take part in conversation. The Lámh user may be more easily understood when they use signs and this encourages many to try new words and say more. Signing naturally encourages people to slow down a little so there is more time to work out the message. Signing encourages eye contact and attention to movement; skills that are important for supporting speech development.