After receiving several queries about Lamh, the manual language, we asked Mary Cullen, Lamh Development Officer, a few questions.
What is Lámh?
Lámh is the accepted manual sign system used by children and adults with intellectual disability in Ireland. Some people use Lámh as their main way of communicating while others use Lámh together with speech and other methods of communication. There are 500 Lámh signs, based on Irish Sign Language and on natural gesture.
Starting to use Lámh
Lámh is a type of augmentative or alternative communication support. Families should ask their service provider about Lámh – talk to the speech and language therapist or other staff member. A decision as to whether Lámh might be useful will be based on a Lámh assessment, carried out by a speech and language therapist or team.
If Lámh is recommended, a programme of starting to use Lámh begins with a small number of signs. Families will be supported by their service provider and can plan together how and when the signs can be used. The emphasis is on repetition, letting the Lámh user get used to seeing those around him/her signing and eventually encouraging sign use. Following this, the family may decide to attend a Lámh Family Course.
Training in Lámh
Training programmes in Lámh have been developed for families and staff members. Courses are run by service providers. On the Lámh Family Course, a Lámh Tutor (usually a speech therapist or other staff member) delivers Lámh sign training and sections on communication, encouraging sign use and engaging others, over four sessions with a follow-up.
For staff members, Lámh Module One and Module Two Courses have been developed to replace the original five-day basic Lámh course. Module One Course focuses on working in a signing environment and supporting Lámh users and their families. Module Two Course covers the Lámh assessment process, creating a signing environment and implementing Lámh programs.
Over 1,500 families and staff members attended Lámh courses in 2009.
Recently Lámh and Down Syndrome Ireland linked to produce a new nursery rhyme DVD. Lámh-a-Song gives young users the chance to see Lámh signs on the TV screen for the first time, with each of the 15 popular songs on the DVD presented through vivid animation and a rich soundtrack that appeals to younger viewers. Lámh-a-Song is €15 plus €1.50 p and p and is available from the Lámh Development Office.
Another new development is the creation of an additional Lámh trainers’ course, Lámh Module Three: Training for Family Course Trainers. This will facilitate an increase in the amount of individuals who can deliver the Lámh Family Course.
In other areas, Lámh is currently reviewing the Lámh Family Course core vocabulary. A link has been made with the Open Training College and one of the areas being looked at is formal accreditation for Lámh courses.
Lámh is grant-aided by the Health Service Executive, and is endorsed by the Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists and Down Syndrome Ireland. Lámh training is recognised by the Department of Education.
For more information, please see www.lamh.org or contact: Mary Cullen, Lámh Development and Liaison Officer, 059 9139657 or firstname.lastname@example.org