By caroline | June 4, 2008
Irish Sign Language (ISL) and Lamh (the Irish word for ‘hand’) are both manual languages with distinct similarities and differences.
ISL, the language of the Deaf community in Ireland, is constantly evolving and has its own syntax and idiosyncrasies.
Lamh, a signing system for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and communication needs in Ireland, is based on ISL, with adaptations.
The key differences:
- Lamh uses signs with speech – not the case with ISL
- some signs are more representative in Lamh than in ISL
- Lamh uses simple hand shapes if possible, instead of finger-spelling in ISL
- natural gesture is chosen with Lamh wherever possible
- Lamh has a smaller number of signs (about 500 in all)
In professional terms, Lamh is recognized as a standardized, Irish-based approach to augmentative communication in special education.
ISL is not a formally-recognised language but is used by about 2,590 individuals in Ireland, mainly inside the signing deaf community.
As an alternative to Lamh, PECS (the Picture Exchange Communication System) works well for non-verbal children and is available as an app. Simply visit www.graceapp.com to get more details of this app for the iPhone and iPad, or to ask its creator (Lisa Domican) about the product.