THE FIRST ONLINE site to support parents of deaf and hard of hearing children to learn Irish Sign Language (ISL) has been launched.
Called ISL Everywhere, it is the only online resource developed specifically to support parents and families in learning ISL and to help them expand their young child’s vocabulary.
It is a free website is designed to be accessed from smart phones or any other internet-enabled devices, so parents can access words needed for daily routines at home or on the go.
Irish Sign Language is the language for the Deaf community in Ireland. Over 100 babies in Ireland are identified as being deaf each year and Sharing the Journey, a voluntary support organisation for parents of deaf and hard of hearing children, recognised the need for a resource for parents.
They saw that this resource needs to be accessible and easy to use, so they designed the online site in collaboration with the Irish Deaf Society and the Centre for Deaf Studies, Trinity College Dublin.
ISL Everywhere was developed by participants of Digital Skills Academy’s WebElevate Programme, which develops the talents of graduate jobseekers for employment in the digital technology and media sectors.
The mobile website http://sharingthejourney.ie/mobile/ includes:
- Over 1,000 signs and phrases, focusing on the everyday vocabulary of a young child’s life
- A word association feature
- Vocabulary needed for daily routines (eg bedtime and bath-time, doctor’s appointment)
- Bedtime stories
- Printable resource materials
- Rainy day activities
Teresa McDonnell, co-founder of Sharing the Journey said that they had countless requests from parents of young children to help them learn ISL.
For most families their deaf baby is the first deaf person that they have ever met. Learning ISL can be challenging not only for parents, but for siblings and relatives as well.
This will expand opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing children to communicate and become more involved with the world around them.
Paul Dunne, CEO of Digital Skills Academy said they are extremely proud of the work WebElevate participants have achieved in developing ISL Everywhere for Sharing the Journey, which will lead to direct employment for a number of participants in developing iPhone and Android app versions of ISL Everywhere.
Professor Lorraine Leeson, director of the Centre for Deaf Studies at Trinity College Dublin, described this as “a significant first step in supporting parents to support their children’s sign language development, which in turn has positive consequences for family engagement, positive identify formation and cognitive development”.
John Mangan, CEO of the Irish Deaf Society said:
Irish Sign Language is a unique language, native to Ireland and is not just about the movements of the hands but also involves body movement, facial expressions and using the space around you to convey what you are saying. ISL Everywhere is an excellent resource and I look forward to seeing it grow from strength to strength.
ISL Everywhere is one of over fifteen projects developed through the WebElevate Programme.