Lámh is the manual sign system used by children and adults with intellectual disability and communication needs in Ireland. Lámh was originally developed in the early 1980s in order to have a unified, standardised, Irish-based approach to signing for those with intellectual disabilities and communication needs. With Lámh, speech is always used with signs and only key words in a sentence are signed.
Lámh currently has 500 signs and has evolved and added signs since its initial development.
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.
Lámh Development Work & Support
The Lámh Development Office provides information for service providers who may be at quite different stages when it comes to their experience of Lámh. Some services may have Lámh Tutors on their staff team, while others may not have much experience of Lámh use at all.
Lámh trains the Lámh Tutors. Lámh Tutors are speech and language therapists, teachers, nurses and other staff members who work in services and run Lámh training as part of their regular working role.
Different Lámh Courses are available to suit different training needs - here is a range of Lámh courses that have been developed for families and other communication partners. Those attending are drawing on experiences of supporting people with communication needs and can use the Lámh signs and skills they have learned immediately following the course. Learning to use Lámh is about how to encourage and support the child or adult with communication needs.
Lámh participates in research and evaluation appropriate to LÁMH training.
Lámh maintains the Lámh Signs online resource for those who have completed the Lámh Training Courses.
Lámh produces posters, apps, the Lámh-a-Song DVD - which can be purchased online.
Governance, Funding & Outreach
In 1999 Lámh was established as a company limited by guarantee. The company name is Communication Augmentation Sign System Ltd., operating under the original name Lámh. The first Lámh Development Office opened in 2003 with a Development Officer post in place.
Lámh is governed by a voluntary Board of Directors, governing the Lámh Development Office, which is operated by the Lámh Project Manager Mary Cullen (acting) and supported by part time Admin Worker Caroline O'Shea.
The core work of Lámh is grant-aided by the HSE.
Lámh has signed up for the Governance Code and is registered and compliant with the Charities Regulator.
Lámh is endorsed by Down Syndrome Ireland and the Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists.
The Department of Education rolls out a number of Lámh training courses each year for teachers, and since 2018, AIM Better Start has been rolling out courses for pre-school workers who are supporting Lámh users. Families, teachers, SNAs, pre-school workers and many others learn Lámh signs each year, so that they can support Lámh users to communicate and to be included in schools.
The aims of Lámh
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. Subsidiary objectives include:
- Co-ordinating dissemination of information regarding LÁMH;
- Maintaining standards for LÁMH and co-ordinating and monitoring implementation of existing LÁMH training packages;
- Oversee development of new training packages and materials and monitoring the copyright and guidelines around use of training packages and materials;
- Developing policies and procedures regarding LÁMH training;