UL video series: The signing system giving those with intellectual disabilities a helping 'Lámh'

The context

You may have seen glimpses of a hybrid Irish Sign language pop-up on Instagram, however the fringe communication system Lámh, used by people with intellectual disabilities, is becoming more mainstream.

The manual sign system for people with intellectual disabilities, is derived from Irish Sign Language (ISL) some signs are similar and some are adapted.

Lámh - which means ‘hand’ as Gaeilge - was developed in the 80’s, as ISL would prove too difficult for someone who has an intellectual disability.

Nicole Duggan started the viral #RileysChallenge for her five–year-old son Riley who has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Riley uses Lámh to communicate with the world around him. In February this year the Glanmire mum asked her 30,000-strong band of followers to join in, posting videos of Lámh signs on her @My_Boy_Blue Instagram story to teach everyone a little bit about Lámh.

Mary Cullen, Manager of the Lámh Organisation said that “news about Lámh is so good to have out there, and then there are ways people can pop-on to our website to see the sign for ‘hello’ maybe and then there are other resources there if people are more interested.”

Mary said, “It’s wonderful for a Lámh user to meet somebody in their community who even can sign a few signs. Even a ‘hello’ is so wonderful for a Lámh user to have somebody in their community who is going to sign ‘hello’ to them or sign ‘thank you.’”

The video

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