Irish Sign Language (ISL) and Lamh (the Irish word for ‘hand’) are both manual languages with distinct similarities and differences.
ISL is used by about 1,077 individuals in Ireland, mainly the signing deaf community, and is not a formally-recognised language.
Lamh, a signing system for children and adults with intellectual disability and communication needs, is based on ISL, with tweaks.
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, not finger-spelling in ISL
- natural gesture is chosen with Lamh as possible
- Lamh has a smaller number of signs (about 500 in all)
In professional terms, Lamh is seen as a standardized, Irish-based option for augmentative communication in special education.
An alternative to Lamh, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) works for non-verbal children and is available as an app. Visit graceapp.com for details regarding the iPhone and iPad, or to ask its creator (Lisa Domican) about the product.