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 586 signs - new signs for technology, sports and other general signs were added in 2019.
Why Use Lámh?
- Using 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.
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. There are 220 Lámh Tutors working in services around Ireland.
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. 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
Lámh is governed by a voluntary Board of Directors, governing the Lámh Development Office. The Lámh Team is made up of full and part time roles including Manager Mary Cullen, Development Officer, Administrator Caroline O'Shea, Lámh Adult Project Lead Christine Delany and is supported by a social media team, Caroline Maxwell and Deirdre Coleman (Instagram). From time to time Project Teams work with Lámh, including a Schools Team Aisling Becton and Caroline Nolan.
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
Lámh develops, promotes and maintains 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;